There are innumerable reasons to cherish Bears Ears National Monument, whether it’s the breathtaking canyons that wedge themselves into the Colorado River basin to the north, the striking red rock formations of Valley of the Gods to the south, the silent remains of ancient peoples that frequented Grand Gulch, and the evocatively named ruins like House of Fire and Moon House that crisscross all of Cedar Mesa. But nothing moves me more than Comb Ridge, the sawtooth-shaped monocline that runs 30 miles from the Abajo Mountains to the San Juan River.
Whether on the ridge itself, or in every canyon that persistently cuts into it, the cultural record of the ancient ones can be seen everywhere. And nothing is more spellbinding than the Procession Panel rock writings and ancient Monarch Cave structures found inside side-by-side drainages coming out of the Comb.
But the Comb is much more than magnificent cultural artifacts and striking topography. When you sit on top of the ridge, you understand why the native tribes consider Bears Ears such a spiritual place. With sweeping views of Sleeping Ute and the San Juan Mountains before you, the Abajos to your left, and Monument Valley, Valley of the Gods, and the Bears Ears formation behind, you comprehend the blinding beauty that surrounds you, that centers you. That the artist who crafted the Procession Panel a hundred yards below, a thousand years before, sat where you are now sitting and savored the same moment that’s rocking your world today.
How fortunate we are that our protected public lands are open to each of us to fashion our own awestruck moments. Thank goodness for the foresight of our own ancestors to give our presidents a tool called the Antiquities Act that makes these memories and experiences possible. And thank goodness our presidents have not shirked from using it for the benefit of all Americans and the land itself. Don’t let a misguided Republican Congress take this tool away from us.