Utah Backcountry Discovery Route

AZBDR routeThere is just nothing else quite like Utah and this 871-mile route will take riders to some unforgettable places. Beginning in Mexican Hat, UT and ending in Garden City, UT the route includes iconic places including Valley of the Gods, Moab, the Abajo and La Sal mountains, Onion Creek, 9 Mile Canyon and the Wasatch Mountains. Utah is unpredictable with mud that is impassable when wet and storms that can wash out roads at anytime. Deep sand challenges riders in places, and a few expert-only options provide excitement for those that seek adrenaline. 

Best time of year: May/June and September/October. Extremely hot conditions and the monsoon season occur in July and August making it a difficult time of year to ride the UTBDR.


Additional Route Resources

In addition to the Interactive UTBDR Map on the right, SheADV.com hosts an interactive BDR Map that shows current weather conditions, estimated snow levels, and forest fires for all BDR's.

For ride reports, route updates, and to join or organize BDR rides, please visit the UTBDR thread on www.ADVrider.com and the Americas thread on www.advrider.com

Traffic Cams on the UTBDR help you see snow levels along the route.


Route Updates

July 11, 2017 - La Sal Loop Road Closed.

Nov 6, 2015 - LaSal Store/Gas stop reopens.

3 Step Hideaway


UTBDR Discovery Points

While riding the UTBDR, we recommend visiting some (or all) of these not-to-be-missed places, selected for their natural beauty, high photo opp value, historical significance, or pure pleasure of discovery! (These waypoints are included in the UTBDR GPS tracks available for a free download on this page).  Send us your photos from these discovery points to share with the BDR community. 

(Listing South to North) 

Arizona Border 36.998436 -110.175493 on the route.
Monument Valley 36.982606 -110.112171 side trip.
San Juan River Bridge 37.150917 -109.867611 on the route.
Mexican Hat - Food, Gas, Lodging 37.14882 -109.85987 on the route.
Swinging Steak Restaurant 37.148986 -109.859196 on the route.
Mexican Hat Rock 37.17364 -109.848722 on the route.
Goosenecks State Park Viewpoint 37.174467 -109.927294 side trip.
Valley of the Gods Scenic Route 37.316369 -109.927294 on the route.
Moki Dugway Switchbacks 37.276747 -109.935851 on the route.
Muley Point Viewpoint 37.233163 -109.993362 side trip.
The Twist 37.379595 -109.741889 on the route.
Sand Island Petroglyph Panel 37.261968 -109.618692 side trip.
Wolfman Petroglyph Panel 37.274391 -109.646355 hike.
Butler Wash Ruins 37.524215 -109.632624 hike.
Blanding - Food, Gas, Lodging 37.62541 -109.47802 on the route.
Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum 37.631393 -109.489667 side trip.
Bears Ears Pass 37.629611 -109.86763 side trip.
Natural Bridges National Monument 37.609087 -109.977009 side trip.
The Notch in Elk Ridge 37.821408 -109.504224 on the route.
Gooseberry Guard Station Meadow 37.822855 -109.771249 on the route.
Abajo Mountains Views 37.821408 -109.504224 on the route.
Monticello - Food, Gas, Lodging 37.87264 -109.34293 side trip.
Newspaper Rock Petroglyph Panel 37.988398 -109.518223 on the route.
Needles Outpost (on UTBDR Lockhart Route) 38.174084 -109.741872 on the route.
Hurrah Pass (on UTBDR Lockhart Route) 38.482109 -109.625221 on the route.
La Sal Store (on UTBDR La Sal Route) 38.312542 -109.250054 on the route.
La Sal Pass (on UTBDR La Sal Route) 38.419004 -109.251677 on the route.
Moab - Food, Gas, Lodging 38.572706 -109.550272 on the route.
Arches National Park 38.61637 -109.62031 side trip.
Castle Valley Overlook 38.543339 -109.31046 on the route.
Hideout Canyon Viewpoint 38.688683 -109.170693 on the route.
The Narrows of Onion Creek 38.698396 -109.276538 on the route.
Fisher Towers Viewpoint and Campground 38.724919 -109.308901 side trip.
Dewey Historic Bridge 38.81085 -109.303214 on the route.
Yellow Cat Mine Buildings 38.838236 -109.365709 on the route.
Sego Canyon Ghost Town 39.033661 -109.702895 on the route.
Sego Canyon Rock Art Site 39.018857 -109.710064 on the route.
Thompson - Gas 38.96407 -109.72297 side trip.
Green River - Food, Gas, Lodging 38.995057 -110.165024 on the route.
Smith Cabin 39.031158 -110.399443 on the route.
Cleveland-LLoyd Dinosaur Quarry 39.32259 -110.68753 side trip.
Nine Mile Canyon Petroglyphs at Pig Head Rock 39.800432 -110.34235 on the route.
Reservation Ridge Views at Indian Head 39.877 -110.902306 on the route.
Soldier Summit Gas 39.928678 -111.079331 side trip.
Fruitland - Gas and Food 40.2124 -110.83976 on the route.
Current Creek Reservoir 40.349754 -111.061465 on the route.
Bald Mountain Pass 40.686252 -110.906414 on the route.
Evanston WY - Gas, Food, Lodging 41.26337 -110.95813 on the route.
Monte Cristo Range 41.66693 -111.431867 on the route.
Temple Peak Summit  41.825801 -111.534017 side trip.
Bear Lake Overlook 41.921254 -111.457255 on the route.
Bear Lake Shoreline Access 41.943788 -111.386818 on the route.
Garden City - Gas, Food, Lodging 41.94789 -111.39335 on the route.
Idaho Border 42.000629 -111.408727 on the route.




Businesses Servicing the Route (Lodging, Restaurants, Gas Stations)

For your convenience, these businesses are also marked on the UTBDR GPS tracks available for a free download on this page.

San Juan Inn (Mexiccan Hat, UT): US 163 & San Juan River, Mexican Hat, UT 84531. Tel. (800) 447-2022.

Mexican Hat Lodge,  (Mexican Hat, UT)100 Main Hwy 163, Mexican Hat, Utah 84531. Tel. (435) 683-2222.

Valley of the Gods Bed & Breakfast (Mexican Hat, UT)Valley of the Gods Road, Mexican Hat, UT 84531.

Swinging Steak Restaurant (Mexican Hat, UT), 100 Main Hwy 163, Mexican Hat, UT 84531. Tel. (435) 683-2222.

Gateway Inn (Blanding, UT): 88 E Center St, Blanding, UT 84511. Tel. 435-678-2278.

Cliff Palace (Blanding, UT): 132 S. Main St. Blanding UT 84511. Tel. (435) 678-2700.

Homestead Steak House (Blanding, UT): 121 E Center St, Blanding, UT 84511. Tel. (435) 678-3456.

Wayside Motor Inn (Monticello, UT): 197 E Center St, Monticello, UT 84535. Tel. (435) 587-2261.

Monticello Inn (Monticello, UT): 164 East Central Street, Monticello, UT 84535. Tel. (435) 587-2274.

PJ’s Restaurant (Monticello, UT):216 E Center St, Monticello, UT 84535 Tel. (435) 587-2335.

Best Western Plus Greenwell Inn (Moab, UT): 105 S Main St, Moab, UT 84532. Tel. (435) 259-6151.

Moab Red Stone Inn (Moab, UT): 535 S Main St, Moab, UT 84532. Tel. (435) 259-3500.

Moab Brewery (Moab, UT): 686 S Main St, Moab, UT 84532. Tel. (435) 259-6333.

Pasta Jay’s. (Moab, UT): 4 S Main St, Moab, UT 84532. Tel. (435) 259-2900.

Comfort Inn (Green River, UT): 1975 E Main St, Green River, UT 84525. Tel. (435) 564-3300

National 9 – Wellington Inn (Wellington, UT): 50 S 700 E, Wellington, UT 84542. Tel. (435) 637-7980.

Los Jilbertos Mexican Restaurant (Wellington, UT): 15 W Main St, Wellington, UT 84542. Tel. (435) 637-1997.

Currant Creek Campground (Heber City, UT): FR 145, Heber City, UT 84032. Tel. (877) 444-6777.

Daniels Summit Lodge (Heber City, UT): 17000 US-40, Heber City, UT 84032. Tel. (800) 519-9969.

Best Western Dunmar Inn (Evanston, WY): 1601 Harrison Dr, Evanston, WY 82930. Tel. (307) 789-3770.

Holiday Inn Express Evanston (Evanston, WY): 1965 Harrison Dr, Evanston, WY 82930. Tel. (307) 789-7999.

Big G on 40 Gas Station Cafe (Evanston, WY): 45000 W Highway 40, Fruitland, UT 84027. Tel. (435) 548-2636

R&R Restaurant (Evanston, WY): 123 10th St, Evanston, WY 82930. Tel. (307) 444-7778.

Bon Rico (Evanston, WY): 925 Front St, Evanston, WY 82930. Tel. (307) 789-1753. 

Ideal Beach Resort at Bear Lake (Garden City, UT): 2176 S. Bear Lake Blvd. Garden City, UT 84028. Tel. (435) 946-3364.

The Lodge Motel (Garden City, UT): 10 S Bear Lake Blvd, Garden City, UT 84028. Tel. (844) 946-5253. 

Conestoga Ranch Glamping Resort (Garden CIty, UT): 427 N. Paradise Parkway, Garden City, Utah 84028. Tel. (385) 626-7395. 

Tamarisk Restaurant (Green River, UT): 1710 E Main St, Green River, UT 84525. Tel. (435) 564-8109.

Merlin’s Restaurant (Garden City, UT): 149 N Bear Lake Blvd, Garden City, UT 84028. Tel. (435) 946-8499.

Firehouse Pizzeria (Gaarden City, UT): 50 S. Bear Lake Blvd, Garden City, UT 84028, Tel. (435) 946-2600.


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Backcountry Discovery Routes

Backcountry Discovery Routes Headquarters

Big G on 40 (Fruitland, UT)

45000 W Highway 40, Fruitland, Utah 84027
Tel. (435) 548-2636
Mon-Sun: 6:00 am - 10:00 pm
Big G on 40 includes: gas/fuel station, cafe, groceries. Hours of operation: Fuel 24 hours, DEF on tap, Cafe 6am-8pm, Store hours: 7 days a week 6am-10pm.
 

Idaho Border (UTBDR)

This is the official northern end of the UTBDR.

Garden City - Gas, Food, Lodging (UTBDR)

Garden City is the northernmost town on the UTBDR. They have all the services you'll need and access to a large popular lake. Lodgingwise there are many options from hotels and resorts to camping and glamping.

Bear Lake Shoreline Access (UTBDR)

Bear Lake has several beach access points in the town of Garden City.

Bear Lake Overlook (UTBDR)

An overlook on Highway 89 with views down to Bear Lake and beyond.

Temple Peak Summit (UTBDR)

One of many rugged side roads in the Monte Cristo Range. This rough track leads to a summit called Temple Peak which has excellent views.

Monte Cristo Range (UTBDR)

The Monte Cristo Mountain Range runs north-south for over 30 miles between Highway 39 and Highway 89. Look for views as the UTBDR meanders along these mountains.

Evanston WY - Gas, Food, Lodging (UTBDR)

The UTBDR enters Wyoming for a short distance. Stop in Evanston for fuel and any other items you need. They have a Walmart, many restaurants, and hotels too. 

Bald Mountain Pass (UTBDR)

Bald Mountain Pass is at about 10,700 feet in the Uinta Mountains. There are views from the pass and you'll find several campgrounds on small mountain lakes nearby.

Current Creek Reservoir (UTBDR)

A large lake and campground north of Fruitland.

Fruitland - Gas and Food (UTBDR)

The Big G in Fruitland on Highway 40 has gas and a cafe.

Soldier Summit Gas (UTBDR)

If your gas range is short, there is 24 hour gas at Soldier Summit (an 8.5 mile side trip).

Reservation Ridge Views at Indian Head (UTBDR)

Distant views are not uncommon on the route along Reservation Ridge, but Indian Head is one of the best spots.

Nine Mile Canyon Petroglyphs at Pig Head Rock (UTBDR)

Nine Mile Canyon has many rock art sites, but most are beyond the turn to Argyle Canyon. The Pig Head Rock petroglyphs are the closest ones just a little past the turn.

Cleveland-LLoyd Dinosaur Quarry (UTBDR)

A visitor center and self guided walk at one of the best dinosaur fossil sites in the world. It's a 6 mile out-and-back ride each way to visit this BLM property (435-636-3600).

Smith Cabin (UTBDR)

Some old buildings along the route west of Green River.

Green River - Food, Gas, Lodging (UTBDR)

Green River has all you'll need to rest and recharge. Ray's Tavern is a friendly place for a meal. Lot of lodging options in town. 

Thompson - Gas (UTBDR)

There is a gas station in tiny Thompson along Interstate 70 if you have a shorter fuel range and are faced with the long segment between Moab and Green River.

Sego Canyon Rock Art Site (UTBDR)

Extensive rock art panels along the road near Sego. Stop and take a picture of these vibrant anthropomorphic pictographs painted on rock walls by Native Americans nearly a thousand years ago.

Sego Canyon Ghost Town (UTBDR)

A must short side trip to the ghost town of Sego.

Yellow Cat Mine Buildings (UTBDR)

Abandoned buildings near the Yellow Cat Mine. Other mining structures can be found in this area that attracted uranium miners in the late 1800's.

Dewey Historic Bridge (UTBDR)

Site of the former Dewey Bridge which burned in 2008. Before that it was the longest suspension bridge in Utah. Dewey Bridge Campground is adjacent to this historic marker.

Fisher Towers Viewpoinit and Campground (UTBDR)

There is a picnic area and campground at the scenic Fisher Towers Trailhead. Lower Onion Creek Campground is just across Highway 128 from the Fisher Towers Road, and Upper Onion Creek Campground is on the left less than a mile back toward Moab.

The Narrows of Onion Creek (UTBDR)

A fun section of the UTBDR that criss-crosses Onion Creek many times and goes through a narrow section of the canyon.

Hideout Canyon Viewpoint (UTBDR)

A section of the UTBDR with clifftop views of Fisher Valley and much more.

Castle Valley Overlook (UTBDR)

An overlook with views of Castle Valley near Moab.

Arches National Park (UTBDR)

Arches is a popular national park just outside of Moab. If you haven't been there before, it might be worth riding into the park to see some of the famous rock arches.

Moab - Food, Gas, Lodging (UTBDR)

Moab is one of the larger town along the UTBDR. They have many restaurants, gas staions, and hotels in town. They also have a visitor center where you can get information about more attractions in the area.

La Sal Pass (on UTBDR La Sal Route)

If you choose to ride up over La Sal Pass you'll be rewarded for your efforts with views of the region and the La Sal Peaks.

La Sal Store (on UTBDR La Sal Route)

La Sal is a one store town with gas and provisions.

Hurrah Pass (on UTBDR Lockhart Route)

If you have completed the Lockhart Basin route then you can say "Harrah" when you get to this point. This pass marks the northern end of this expert section near Moab.

Needles Outpost (on UTBDR Lockhart Route)

If you ride the expert only Lockhart Basin route, you'll need to fuel up with expensive (but worth every penny) gas at this off-the-beaten-path store.

Newspaper Rock Petroglyph Panel (UTBDR)

Newspaper Rock is a rock art panel with petroglyphs from several generations of Anasazi artists.

Monticello - Food, Gas, Lodging (UTBDR)

Depending on your gas situation, you might have to stop off in Monticello. They have restaurants and lodging options in town too. The town is a 5.5 mile side trip from the UTBDR.

Abajo Mountains Views (UTBDR)

As you round the Abajo Mountains (a.k.a. The Blues) there are many viewpoints.

Gooseberry Guard Station Meadow (UTBDR)

A short driveway leads to the Gooseberry Station and a beautiful meadow surrounded by aspens.

The Notch in Elk Ridge (UTBDR)

The Notch is a narrow spot on Elk Ridge between the heads of two separate canyons that run away to the east and west.

Natural Bridges National Monument (UTBDR)

Natural Bridges National Monument has a paved loop road with overlooks for each of the three rare natural bridges. Short hiking trail lead to each of the bridges if you want to see them up close. There is a nice campground and visitor center at the national monument. The monument is a distant side trip destination.

Bears Ears Pass (UTBDR)

This is the pass between the "ears" of the Bears Ears rock towers located near the southern end of Elk Ridge. The recently established Bears Ears National Monuent is named for these towers which are visible from miles around. It is a 5+ mile side trip one-way.

Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum (UTBDR)

This museum in Blanding has a large collection of artifacts from Anasazi ruins on Cedar Mesa and other sites around Utah and the Four Corners Region.

Blanding - Food, Gas, Lodging (UTBDR)

You'll need to fuel up in Blanding. There are several good restaurants and affordable hotel options in town.

Butler Wash Ruins (UTBDR)

One of the easier to see Anasazi Ruins. This significant site is located in a large rock alcove in northern Butler Wash and is visible from an overlook at the end of a short hike.

Wolfman Petroglyph Panel (UTBDR)

The Wolfman Panel is located near the southern end of Butler Wash and requires a short hike to find. 

Sand Island Petroglyph Panel (UTBDR)

On the rock walls along the banks of the San Juan River you can find one of the larger Anasazi rock art panels. It requires a short side trip.

The Twist (UTBDR)

The Twist is a bend in Snow Flats Road which follows the original Mormon Pioneer Trail. This historic route ascends Cedar Mesa from Comb Wash.

Muley Point Viewpoint (UTBDR)

Muley Point is an overlook at the edge of Cedar Mesa that has views of the San Juan River with Monument Valley in the distance. It is five mile side trip but worth it for the views.

Moki Dugway Switchbacks (UTBDR)

From afar it is hard to spot this road that switchbacks up the southern rock face of Cedar Mesa. The Moki Dugway is a feat of engineering that was originally built in 1958 by a mining company.

Valley of the Gods Scenic Route (UTBDR)

The UTBDR follows the Valley of the Gods Road. The rock towers along the road are unique in their appearance and their names.

Goosenecks State Park Viewpoint (UTBDR)

The Goosenecks are a tight series of twists in the San Juan River channel. This is a popular spot for professional photographers to set up and shoot sunsets over the river bends. It is a 3.5 mile trip out to the viewpoint.

Mexican Hat Rock (UTBDR)

Look for Mexican Hat Rock as you ride the highway north of Mexican Hat.

Swinging Steak Restaurant in Mexican Hat (UTBDR)

This restaurant has live music in the evenings and delicious food all the time. Swing by to see and eat a steak that has been swinging through an open fire.

Mexican Hat - Food, Gas, Lodging (UTBDR)

A small town with a gas station, mini-mart, a couple restaurants, and several lodging options.

San Juan River Bridge (UTBDR)

The bridge offers views up and down the San Juan River in Mexican Hat.

Monument Valley (UTBDR)

A scenic area on Navajo tribal lands. Several companies offer tours of the valley. If you want to see Monument Valley before or after the UTBDR, plan ahead.

Arizona Border (UTBDR)

This is the official starting point of the UTBDR.

Big G on 40 (Fruitland, UT)

45000 W Highway 40, Fruitland, Utah 84027
Tel. (435) 548-2636
Mon-Sun: 6:00 am - 10:00 pm
Big G on 40 includes: gas/fuel station, cafe, groceries. Hours of operation: Fuel 24 hours, DEF on tap, Cafe 6am-8pm, Store hours: 7 days a week 6am-10pm.
 

Idaho Border (UTBDR)

This is the official northern end of the UTBDR.

Garden City - Gas, Food, Lodging (UTBDR)

Garden City is the northernmost town on the UTBDR. They have all the services you'll need and access to a large popular lake. Lodgingwise there are many options from hotels and resorts to camping and glamping.

Bear Lake Shoreline Access (UTBDR)

Bear Lake has several beach access points in the town of Garden City.

Bear Lake Overlook (UTBDR)

An overlook on Highway 89 with views down to Bear Lake and beyond.

Temple Peak Summit (UTBDR)

One of many rugged side roads in the Monte Cristo Range. This rough track leads to a summit called Temple Peak which has excellent views.

Monte Cristo Range (UTBDR)

The Monte Cristo Mountain Range runs north-south for over 30 miles between Highway 39 and Highway 89. Look for views as the UTBDR meanders along these mountains.

Evanston WY - Gas, Food, Lodging (UTBDR)

The UTBDR enters Wyoming for a short distance. Stop in Evanston for fuel and any other items you need. They have a Walmart, many restaurants, and hotels too. 

Bald Mountain Pass (UTBDR)

Bald Mountain Pass is at about 10,700 feet in the Uinta Mountains. There are views from the pass and you'll find several campgrounds on small mountain lakes nearby.

Current Creek Reservoir (UTBDR)

A large lake and campground north of Fruitland.

Fruitland - Gas and Food (UTBDR)

The Big G in Fruitland on Highway 40 has gas and a cafe.

Soldier Summit Gas (UTBDR)

If your gas range is short, there is 24 hour gas at Soldier Summit (an 8.5 mile side trip).

Reservation Ridge Views at Indian Head (UTBDR)

Distant views are not uncommon on the route along Reservation Ridge, but Indian Head is one of the best spots.

Nine Mile Canyon Petroglyphs at Pig Head Rock (UTBDR)

Nine Mile Canyon has many rock art sites, but most are beyond the turn to Argyle Canyon. The Pig Head Rock petroglyphs are the closest ones just a little past the turn.

Cleveland-LLoyd Dinosaur Quarry (UTBDR)

A visitor center and self guided walk at one of the best dinosaur fossil sites in the world. It's a 6 mile out-and-back ride each way to visit this BLM property (435-636-3600).

Smith Cabin (UTBDR)

Some old buildings along the route west of Green River.

Green River - Food, Gas, Lodging (UTBDR)

Green River has all you'll need to rest and recharge. Ray's Tavern is a friendly place for a meal. Lot of lodging options in town. 

Thompson - Gas (UTBDR)

There is a gas station in tiny Thompson along Interstate 70 if you have a shorter fuel range and are faced with the long segment between Moab and Green River.

Sego Canyon Rock Art Site (UTBDR)

Extensive rock art panels along the road near Sego. Stop and take a picture of these vibrant anthropomorphic pictographs painted on rock walls by Native Americans nearly a thousand years ago.

Sego Canyon Ghost Town (UTBDR)

A must short side trip to the ghost town of Sego.

Yellow Cat Mine Buildings (UTBDR)

Abandoned buildings near the Yellow Cat Mine. Other mining structures can be found in this area that attracted uranium miners in the late 1800's.

Dewey Historic Bridge (UTBDR)

Site of the former Dewey Bridge which burned in 2008. Before that it was the longest suspension bridge in Utah. Dewey Bridge Campground is adjacent to this historic marker.

Fisher Towers Viewpoinit and Campground (UTBDR)

There is a picnic area and campground at the scenic Fisher Towers Trailhead. Lower Onion Creek Campground is just across Highway 128 from the Fisher Towers Road, and Upper Onion Creek Campground is on the left less than a mile back toward Moab.

The Narrows of Onion Creek (UTBDR)

A fun section of the UTBDR that criss-crosses Onion Creek many times and goes through a narrow section of the canyon.

Hideout Canyon Viewpoint (UTBDR)

A section of the UTBDR with clifftop views of Fisher Valley and much more.

Castle Valley Overlook (UTBDR)

An overlook with views of Castle Valley near Moab.

Arches National Park (UTBDR)

Arches is a popular national park just outside of Moab. If you haven't been there before, it might be worth riding into the park to see some of the famous rock arches.

Moab - Food, Gas, Lodging (UTBDR)

Moab is one of the larger town along the UTBDR. They have many restaurants, gas staions, and hotels in town. They also have a visitor center where you can get information about more attractions in the area.

La Sal Pass (on UTBDR La Sal Route)

If you choose to ride up over La Sal Pass you'll be rewarded for your efforts with views of the region and the La Sal Peaks.

La Sal Store (on UTBDR La Sal Route)

La Sal is a one store town with gas and provisions.

Hurrah Pass (on UTBDR Lockhart Route)

If you have completed the Lockhart Basin route then you can say "Harrah" when you get to this point. This pass marks the northern end of this expert section near Moab.

Needles Outpost (on UTBDR Lockhart Route)

If you ride the expert only Lockhart Basin route, you'll need to fuel up with expensive (but worth every penny) gas at this off-the-beaten-path store.

Newspaper Rock Petroglyph Panel (UTBDR)

Newspaper Rock is a rock art panel with petroglyphs from several generations of Anasazi artists.

Monticello - Food, Gas, Lodging (UTBDR)

Depending on your gas situation, you might have to stop off in Monticello. They have restaurants and lodging options in town too. The town is a 5.5 mile side trip from the UTBDR.

Abajo Mountains Views (UTBDR)

As you round the Abajo Mountains (a.k.a. The Blues) there are many viewpoints.

Gooseberry Guard Station Meadow (UTBDR)

A short driveway leads to the Gooseberry Station and a beautiful meadow surrounded by aspens.

The Notch in Elk Ridge (UTBDR)

The Notch is a narrow spot on Elk Ridge between the heads of two separate canyons that run away to the east and west.

Natural Bridges National Monument (UTBDR)

Natural Bridges National Monument has a paved loop road with overlooks for each of the three rare natural bridges. Short hiking trail lead to each of the bridges if you want to see them up close. There is a nice campground and visitor center at the national monument. The monument is a distant side trip destination.

Bears Ears Pass (UTBDR)

This is the pass between the "ears" of the Bears Ears rock towers located near the southern end of Elk Ridge. The recently established Bears Ears National Monuent is named for these towers which are visible from miles around. It is a 5+ mile side trip one-way.

Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum (UTBDR)

This museum in Blanding has a large collection of artifacts from Anasazi ruins on Cedar Mesa and other sites around Utah and the Four Corners Region.

Blanding - Food, Gas, Lodging (UTBDR)

You'll need to fuel up in Blanding. There are several good restaurants and affordable hotel options in town.

Butler Wash Ruins (UTBDR)

One of the easier to see Anasazi Ruins. This significant site is located in a large rock alcove in northern Butler Wash and is visible from an overlook at the end of a short hike.

Wolfman Petroglyph Panel (UTBDR)

The Wolfman Panel is located near the southern end of Butler Wash and requires a short hike to find. 

Sand Island Petroglyph Panel (UTBDR)

On the rock walls along the banks of the San Juan River you can find one of the larger Anasazi rock art panels. It requires a short side trip.

The Twist (UTBDR)

The Twist is a bend in Snow Flats Road which follows the original Mormon Pioneer Trail. This historic route ascends Cedar Mesa from Comb Wash.

Muley Point Viewpoint (UTBDR)

Muley Point is an overlook at the edge of Cedar Mesa that has views of the San Juan River with Monument Valley in the distance. It is five mile side trip but worth it for the views.

Moki Dugway Switchbacks (UTBDR)

From afar it is hard to spot this road that switchbacks up the southern rock face of Cedar Mesa. The Moki Dugway is a feat of engineering that was originally built in 1958 by a mining company.

Valley of the Gods Scenic Route (UTBDR)

The UTBDR follows the Valley of the Gods Road. The rock towers along the road are unique in their appearance and their names.

Goosenecks State Park Viewpoint (UTBDR)

The Goosenecks are a tight series of twists in the San Juan River channel. This is a popular spot for professional photographers to set up and shoot sunsets over the river bends. It is a 3.5 mile trip out to the viewpoint.

Mexican Hat Rock (UTBDR)

Look for Mexican Hat Rock as you ride the highway north of Mexican Hat.

Swinging Steak Restaurant in Mexican Hat (UTBDR)

This restaurant has live music in the evenings and delicious food all the time. Swing by to see and eat a steak that has been swinging through an open fire.

Mexican Hat - Food, Gas, Lodging (UTBDR)

A small town with a gas station, mini-mart, a couple restaurants, and several lodging options.

San Juan River Bridge (UTBDR)

The bridge offers views up and down the San Juan River in Mexican Hat.

Monument Valley (UTBDR)

A scenic area on Navajo tribal lands. Several companies offer tours of the valley. If you want to see Monument Valley before or after the UTBDR, plan ahead.

Arizona Border (UTBDR)

This is the official starting point of the UTBDR.

AZ border to Mexican Hat

Sec 1 Mexican Hat to Monticello

Begin your epic ride in the idyllic setting of Mexican Hat. Fuel, food and lodging are available here, but we advise booking your room ahead due to the limited number of beds at this popular destination. The route officially starts just east of the town in the famed Valley of the Gods, site of legendary western movies and iconic sandstone towers-a dazzling display of pastel hues painted by the rising sun will surely motivate you to get up and out early. Once you rejoin the pavement, a brief ride up the Moki Dugway ushers you east onto Snow Flat Road and eventually north up Butler wash. Fuel up in Blanding to prepare for the Abajo Mountains stretch. WARNING! Stay tuned to the weather forecast and be prepared to spend the night if conditions sour-the road over the Abajos may become impassable in the rain and mud. HIGHLIGHTS: Valley of the Gods towers; swtichbacks up Moki Dugway; Native American artifacts in Butler Wash; views from the Abajo Mountains

Sec 2 Monticello to Dewey Bridge

Fill your tank to the brim in Monticello before heading out on a nice paved ride over Harts Draw Road. At the intersection of Highway 211, you’ll have a choice to make. For novice riders, the decision should be to go east towards the La Sal Mountains-the scenery is similar to the Abajos with spectacular views in every direction. Turning left here will eventually take you to Lockhart Basin, an experts-only trail and a 70-mile trip from Indian creek to Moab. WARNING! Do not attempt this section if you are not comfortable in advanced off-road situations (refer to video for more info). Both fuel and supplies are available at the Needles Outpost, a short distance from the turn-off to Lockhart Basin Road. Rudimentary camping is available along both routes, as well as along Onion Creek further north of Moab. Make sure to replenish fuel and supplies in Moab. HIGHLIGHTS: Newspaper Rock; Canyonlands National Park; Colorado River views; Hurrah pass; Onion Creek; historic Dewey Bridge

Sec 2 EXPERT ONLY Lockhart Basin

Sec 2 Winter Around LaSal Mtns ALT

Sec 3 Dewey Bridge to Wellington

As you heave the historic Dewey Bridge behind, the riding moves onto the flatter areas of Utah. Don’t be put off by the flat terrain. Old mining camps and abandoned uranium mines offer plenty to look at. The route will eventually pull you north of I-70 into the Book Cliffs, a 200-mile sedimentary rock outcropping. Get off your bike to check out the ghost town of Sego before dropping down into the town of Green River. Options are limited, but fuel for you and your bike are available here. Ray’s Diner downtown is a popular stop for travelers passing through. Just outside of town, the route heads north along Cottonwood Wash offering pleasant views of the San Rafael Swell to the west. Expect to make up some time along the Green River cut-off, which will take you west along the Cedar Mountain Recreation Area via a graded gravel road. If you do not plan on camping, consider riding a short distance to price, which has more food and lodging options than Wellington. HIGHLIGHTS: Yellowcat Mine; Book Cliffs; Sego ghost town; Sego cemetery; Ray’s Diner

Sec 4 Wellington to Currant Creek Hwy 40

Upon leaving Wellington, an old paved road ushers you to the mouth of Nine Mile Canyon, a beautiful 70-mile stretch of backcountry byway. While the canyon encompasses all types of archaeological sites, it is also home to the world’s largest concentration of Native American rock art, which dates back 8,000 years. Halfway through the canyon, turn onto Argyle Canyon and up to Highway 191, where you’ll cross onto Reservation Ridge. From here, the road rises to 9,000 feet offering gorgeous views that seem to stretch forever. WARNING! It is 240 miles from Wellington to Evanston. If your fuel range is less than that, take a quick detour to Soldier Summit for fuel. Continuing north, Timber Canyon offers a charming ride under a canopy of thick cottonwood trees along the Strawberry River. For those looking to camp, there are several campsites here, but please respect private property rights in this area! Section 4 officially ends at Highway 40 and Currant Creek Road. HIGHLIGHTS: Nine Mile Canyon; Reservation Ridge; Timber Canyon; Uinta National Forest

Sec 4 out to Gas

Sec 5 Currant Creek to Evanston

You’ll get high into Utah’s northern mountains on this stretch. After crossing Highway 35, follow a primitive road surrounded by evergreen and aspen trees. The road eventually tops out on a high alpine meadow with rewarding panoramas of the Uinta Wilderness. There is reasonable camping here though better sites can be found along the alpine lakes further ahead. For advanced riders, there are alternate trails up to the lakes—while challenging and rocky, they’re worth the trip if you and your machine are up to it. If you’re not, jump the highway and keep an eye out for signs labeled ‘Washington Lakes Trail’. The pavement of Highway 150 is unavoidable in the next section but it has been rated G2 and G3 by Butler Maps, and offers fun riding nonetheless. Turn onto Whitney Road to rejoin the dirt. The final section brings you to Evanston, Wyoming where you can fill up on fuel and food. HIGHLIGHTS: High meadows; alpine lakes; G2 pavements; miles of aspen-lined roads

Sec 5 up to Camping

Sec 5 Expert Whitney Bypass

Sec 6 Evanston to Garden City

Aside from staying in Wyoming and stitching together roads in the vast gas and oil fields, there is no way to avoid the paved section from Woodruff to Monte Cristo Ridge. Hang in there—once you arrive at Monte Cristo Ridge, the route winds through dense pine forests and offers a number of expansive vistas to the west and east. There are myriads of great camping sites the entire length of the road on the way to Garden City. At the end of the route, you will be rewarded with a view worth of the epic adventure you just experienced across the state of Utah. Head into Garden City for a cold pint or a cup of raspberry ice cream, the town’s specialty. HIGHLIGHTS: Outstanding views; tall pines; Bear Lake; raspberry ice cream

Garden City to ID border

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UTBDR FAQ

Below are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about the Utah Backcountry Discovery Route.  

UTBDR Packing List

(This packing list serves as an example and is not intended to be a complete list for your backcountry riding needs. Feel free to customize this list to work for you.)

UTBDR Discovery Points

UTBDR Restaurants

UTBDR Gas Stations

UTBDR Lodging