The small town of Blanding, Utah made the national news today. Here's a link to the story on National Public Radio site, www.npr.org. 17 people were arrested for removing and selling Native American artifacts found on federal and Indian lands. One suspect, Dr. James Redd, committed suicide the day after the arrests. Blanding locals were not happy about the way the arrests were made, when dozens of armed FBI officials wearing body armor stormed in and handcuffed suspects as old as 73 years of age.
Blanding is near Hovenweep National Monument in the far southeast corner of Utah. The area is rich in Native American artifacts and history. According to Bruce Adams a Blanding local quoted in the NPR story, artifacts can be found on every farmer's field and trail in the area. Removing them from public lands however, is against the law.
If you'd like to visit the Blanding area and see the rich culture and history found there, consider these three camping options. In the town of Blanding there are two RV campgrounds, the Blue Mountain Trading Post RV Park, and the Blanding Gofer Camp Park. These campgrounds are in town right off US Highway 191 and very close to the Edge of the Cedars State Park and Museum - a musuem protecting and displaying pre-Columbian Pueblo Indian ruins and artifacts. Better yet, consider making the drive down to Hovenweep National Monument and staying at the excellent national park style campground in the monument.
Here's a detailed write-up of the Hovenweep campground from my Moon Utah Camping Guidebook
Hovenweep National Monument
Hovenweep National Monument is one of the best kept secrets of the Four Corners Region. Hovenweep is a Ute/Pauite word meaning "deserted valley." What's so impressive about this particular deserted valley is the structures left behind by its ancient inhabitants. Towers, multi-room pueblos, and small cliff-dwellings leave a record of a culture that thrived in this canyon as little as 700 years ago. While the monument is a substantial drive from just about anywhere, it offers a more intimate view of ancient ruins than you'll find in the more heavily visited Mesa Verde National Park. Hikes of varying length access six different groups of ruins. The Hovenweep Campground is a short distance from the main Little Ruin Canyon and enjoys views to the east of the Sleeping Ute Mountains across the border in Colorado. Juniper and pinyon pine trees grow between well-designed and maintained sites. The parking aprons are gravel. Like the park in general the campground appears to get little use because it is so far out of the way. The campground features a small amphitheater overlooking a shallow ravine. The eight-mile round-trip Holy Ruins trail leaves directly from the campground. The trail leads to a complex of ruins that stradles the Utah-Colorado border.
There are 31 sites for tents and RVs up to 36 feet in length. Semi-covered picnic tables, flush toilets, drinking water, and a dish-cleaning station, aluminum and plastic recycling, garbage service and fire grills are provided. Leashed pets are permitted.
Reservations are not accepted. Fees are $10. Open year-round.
From Blanding drive 15 miles south on Hwy 191 and turn east (left) on Rte. 262. Follow Rte. 262 for nine miles. Continue straight towards Hatch Trading Post. Follow the road as it bends south, following signs to Hovenweep National Monument. Nine miles after Hatch Trading Post turn north (left) again and continue to the park entrance.
N 37 22.999' W 109 04.254'
Hovenweep National Monument, 970/562-4282, www.nps.gov/hove/planyourvisit/things2do.htm