Utah Field Guide: Bluff

In prehistoric times, the area around Bluff was home to two distinct desert cultures, the Basket Makers and the Cliff Dwellers, also generally known as the Anasazi culture.

Spanish explorers in the 1700’s traversed this area, but no white settlers called the Bluff valley home until the late 1800’s. Around 1879 the now famous “hole in the Rock” expedition of mormon pioneers set out to establish a community on the San Juan River.

A total of 236 individuals formed the mission. Leaders of the mission opted to try a “short cut” by way of Escalante that would take them through unexplored country. The biggest obstacle was the Colorado River. Scouts discovered, a narrow slit in the west wall of Glen Canyon which later became called the Hole in the Rock”.

The expedition spent a month and a half blasting a road through the very narrow crack to allow for the passage of wagons and ended their six month journey by founding Historic Bluff City.

Today, Bluff is an active center for artists, oil exploration, farming and ranching. Within this area of national parks, prehistoric sites, diverse cultures, wild canyons and river recreation, tourism has become a strong component in the local economy. For more info on towns, animals or anything we’ve featured, check out our Utah Field Guide on our Outdoors Page at KSLTV.com

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