Bears Ears National Monument, Utah
- Where: Southeastern Utah
- What: Twin buttes with deep significance for Native American cultures, surrounded by 1.35 million acres of stunning spires, canyons, mesas and mountains
- When: Established December 2016
- Why: Named for their resemblance to ursine ears, Utah's Bears Ears Buttes are the anchors of a vivid landscape that has hosted native people for hundreds of generations. It's dotted with ancient artifacts, rock art, cliff dwellings and ceremonial sites, and remains sacred to many Native American cultures, including the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Navajo Nation, Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah Ouray, Hopi Nation and Zuni Tribe. A tropical sea covered the area 300 million years ago, leaving a wealth of fossils such as dinosaurs, giant amphibians and mammal-like reptiles. There's an array of modern wildlife, too, from tiger salamanders, tree frogs and night snakes to badgers, bald eagles, bobcats and ringtails. The area is renowned for its starry skies and tranquil silence, and has flirted with federal protection since at least 1936, when Interior Secretary Harold L. Ickes proposed a monument designation. Eighty years later, thanks largely to Native American advocacy, President Obama heeded that advice.
- Update: In late 2017, President Trump announced plans to shrink the monument, which has been opposed by several state and federal Republican leaders. Native American tribes who consider the land sacred say they'll sue to prevent the monument's size reduction.