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Camping at Sand Island Recreation Area

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Location and Access

Sand Island Recreation Area is located just west of Bluff, Utah, alongside the San Juan River. It is a popular spot for both camping and recreational activities, especially for those looking to explore the Bears Ears National Monument. Access to Sand Island Recreation Area can typically be reached by vehicle via local roads exiting from Highway 191 or Highway 163.

Camping Facilities

The Recreation Area offers a campground suitable for both RVs and tents. Facilities here include:

  • Campsite options with picnic tables, fire rings, and grill facilities.
  • Drinking water available seasonally.
  • Vault toilets, but no hookups for RVs, no dump station, and no showers.

Visitors should be aware that the campground operates on a first-come, first-served basis, and during peak seasons, it may fill up early in the day.


Visitors to Sand Island can enjoy a variety of activities:

  • Petroglyph viewing: The area is famous for its extensive collection of ancient petroglyphs, carved into the sandstone walls by Ancestral Puebloan people.
  • River access: The San Juan River is accessible for boating and fishing. Sand Island is also a common launching point for river rafting trips.
  • Rock climbing: Opportunities for climbing are available in the surrounding areas of Bears Ears National Monument.
  • Hiking: Explore the monument's vast network of trails, featuring diverse landscapes and rich cultural history.

Reservations and Fees

As of the current knowledge cutoff:

  • Camping fees: There is a fee per night for camping at Sand Island. Fees are subject to change, so it's always wise to check the latest information.
  • Reservations: The campsites at Sand Island are generally first-come, first-served, and cannot be reserved in advance.
  • Bears Ears National Monument Access: There may be fees or permits required for certain activities within Bears Ears National Monument.

Rules and Regulations

  • Fire Regulations: Open fires may be restricted during dry periods due to wildfire risk. Always follow local guidelines.
  • Pets: Pets are usually allowed but must be kept on a leash.
  • Wildlife: As with any natural area, do not disturb wildlife and observe from a safe distance.
  • Cultural Resources: It is against the law to deface or take cultural artifacts, including petroglyphs and ruins.


  • Water: Be sure to bring plenty of water, especially during the hotter months, as temperatures can be high, and shade is limited.
  • Leave No Trace: Practice Leave No Trace principles to preserve the natural and cultural resources of the area.
  • Weather Awareness: Check weather forecasts and be prepared for changing conditions, including flash floods if near the river.

Contact Information

For the most current information, visitors should contact:

  • Bureau of Land Management Monticello Field Office, which typically manages the area.
  • Bears Ears National Monument Visitor Center for specific questions regarding trails, cultural sites, and overall monument regulations.

Remember, conditions and regulations can change, so it is always best to check for the most up-to-date information before planning your trip.

Location of Sand Island Recreation Area
Other Campgrounds in Bears Ears National Monument
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