What national monuments are located in Utah?


Tuesday marks the 90th anniversary of the Cedar Breaks National Monument in Brian Head, Utah.

“Happy 90th Birthday Cedar Breaks National Monument!” the Cedar Breaks National Park Service wrote on its Facebook page. “Cedar Breaks was named a national monument on August 22, 1933 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

This separated the area from the surrounding Dixie National Forest, which is governed by the Forest Service. Thank you to all who visit the monument and your support of public lands!”

What’s the difference between a national park and a national monument?

What determines whether a landmark or area of land gets designated as a national park or as a national monument? According to the National Park Service, it comes down to amount of land and allotted funding.

  • A “national park contains a variety of resources and encompasses large land or water areas to help provide adequate protection of the resources.”
  • “A national monument is intended to preserve at least one nationally significant resource. It is usually smaller than a national park and lacks its diversity of attractions.”

Here is a list of all eight national monuments established in Utah.


The House on Fire ruins are pictured in the Shash Jaa Unit of Bears Ears National Monument in San Juan County on Friday, April 9, 2021.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

1. Bears Ears National Monument

Location: San Juan County, Utah.

Former President Barack Obama established the region of Bears Ears as a national monument on Dec. 28, 2016.

Preserving the area was an effort “to protect the the ancestral homeland of Tribal Nations that all refer to the area by the same name — Hoon’Naqvut (Hopi), Shash Jaa’ (Navajo), Kwiyagatu Nukavachi (Ute), and Ansh An Lashokdiwe (Zuni): Bears Ears,” per a White House statement.

The land designated as a monument has been a source of contention between the Democratic and Republican parties since its designation, and the amount designated as federal land is still being debated.

The monument is Utah’s most recently designated national monument and “is named for a couple of buttes that rise attentively from the horizon,” UT.com reported.


Cedar Breaks National Monument’s colorful carved amphitheater of stone sits high on the plateau above Cedar City, Utah.

2. Cedar Breaks National Monument

Location: Iron County, Utah.

Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt designated the region as a national monument on Aug. 22, 1933.

The orange hues and deep canyons in Cedar Breaks National Monument make it a memorable natural sight to see. Located just outside of Cedar City, not too far from the I-15 freeway, it’s a less crowded and more accessible stop for visitors hoping to see the spectacular Utah rocks.

“Most people outside of kind of this corner of the state don’t know much about Cedar Breaks,” Gov. Spencer Cox said, per Cedar City News. “This is an opportunity to come and see things that are absolutely spectacular, less crowded, easy access, and, into a couple of years, we’re gonna have this incredible visitor center to welcome people.”


Earl Douglass discovered the quarry in what is now Dinosaur National Monument.

University of Utah, Marriott Li

3. Dinosaur National Monument

Location: Uintah County.

Former President Woodrow Wilson designated the area as a national monument on Oct. 4, 1915.

After multiple dinosaur fossil discoveries by paleontologist Earl Douglass and connections to the Smithsonian helped preserve the 85,000 hectares that make up the monument, per Earth Magazine.

The monument in Uintah County is home to “some of the best-preserved skeletons ever found,” according to Utah.com. Children and adults have the opportunity to learn more and explore an area that has a high concentration of dinosaur fossils.


A section of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is pictured on Friday, May 14, 2021.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

4. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Location: Kane County, Utah and Garfield County, Utah.

President Clinton designated the 1.7 million acres of federal land in Southern Utah as a national monument on Sept. 18, 1996.

Forbes named the monument as the best of all of America’s national monuments.

“The Escalante Grand Staircase region is still a hidden gem,” says Linz DeSeno, director of operations at the Yonder Escalante glamping resort on the edge of the monument told Forbes. “We don’t nearly have the tourism numbers as national parks see. There is no waiting in traffic or lines getting into the monument or making reservations for hikes. You truly feel the remoteness here in all the best ways.”


Hovenweep Castle is one of the best remaining structures where ancestors of today’s Pueblo Indigenous Tribes lived more than 700 years ago.

Elizabeth Arave, Deseret News

5. Hovenweep National Monument

Location: San Juan County, Utah.

Former President Warren G. Harding designated the region as a national monument on Mar. 2, 1923.

Ancestral Puebloans settled in the area now monument in San Juan County, likely passing through as long ago as 10,000 years ago, according to Utah.com. Visitors to the area can admire structures built between A.D. 1200 and 1300, per National Park Service.


The Sipapu Bridge is one of the natural bridges that make up the Natural Bridges National Monument.

Mike Coronella, Deseret News

6. Natural Bridges National Monument

Location: San Juan County, Utah.

Former President Theodore Roosevelt designated the area as a national monument in 1904 and became the first established National Park Service area in Utah.

The natural bridges are “among the longest natural bridges in the world,” and it “is a massive hole punched through a gooseneck ini Armstrong Canyon,” per Utah.com. Visitors can admire the spectacular wonder along the nine-mile Bridge View Drive loop.


A flash flood in 2013 wiped out part of a trail to Rainbow Bridge National Monument. A temporary dock is currently being used to get visitors to the site. The National Park Service is looking to redesign the trail.

John Hollenhorst, Deseret News

7. Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Location: San Juan County, Utah.

Former President William Howard Taft designated the region as a national monument on May 30, 1910.

Rainbow Bridge is regarded as “the world’s highest natural bridge, its span is reported to be 234 feet,” Yahoo News reported. When establishing the monument, Taft admired the “extraordinary natural bridge, having an arch which is in form and appearance much like a rainbow, and which is of great scientific interest as an example of eccentric stream erosion,” per the National Park Service.


A motorists drives past the Timpanogos Cave National Monument sign in American Fork Canyon on Tuesday, July 21, 2020. Visits to all national parks in Utah this summer are drastically down with the exception of Timpanogos Cave.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

8. Timpanogos Cave National Monument

Location: Utah County, Utah.

Former President Warren G. Harding established Timpanogos Cave as a national monument on Oct. 14, 1922.

To get to the cave, visitors have to take a steep, winding 1.5 mile hike. It is paved, but very steep. The park mission is to “preserve the outstanding cave formations, geological processes, and historical values of the Timpanogos Cave System and associated features for the recreational and educational enjoyment, scientific value, and inspiration of this and future generations,” per the National Park Service


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