Utah Backcountry Discovery Route

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There 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.

The UTBDR film is available for streaming or download.

UTBDR LODGING

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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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Blanding - Food, Gas, Lodging (UTBDR)

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

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Mexican Hat - Food, Gas, Lodging (UTBDR)

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

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Winterton Suites Duchesne - Food, Gas, Lodging (UTBDR)

12 townhomes in Duchense, UT.  Each townhome is fully furnished with 3 bedrooms/ 3 bathrooms. They provide daily housekeeping services, wifi, and other amenities to make your townhomes feels like “home away from home”.  Each townhome has its own washer and dryer, as well.  Guests can book for as little as 1 night or 120+ nights.

You can make your reservations through their website or by calling.

Reservation phone line is (435)823-2100.

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UTBDR FOOD

Campfire Grill Restaurant (Garden City, UT) (UTBDR)

427 N. Paradise Parkway, Garden City, UT 84028
Open: May 18 – Sept 30, 2018
Serves: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Phone: 844-464-5267

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Big G on 40 (Fruitland, UT) (UTBDR)

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.

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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.

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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. 

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Fruitland - Gas and Food (UTBDR)

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

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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Blanding - Food, Gas, Lodging (UTBDR)

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

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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.

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Mexican Hat - Food, Gas, Lodging (UTBDR)

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

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UTBDR FUEL

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.

Visit Website »

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. 

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Fruitland - Gas and Food (UTBDR)

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

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Soldier Summit Gas (UTBDR)

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

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. 

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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.

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.

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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.

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Blanding - Food, Gas, Lodging (UTBDR)

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

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Mexican Hat - Food, Gas, Lodging (UTBDR)

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

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UTBDR DISCOVERY POINTS

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.

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Bear Lake Shoreline Access (UTBDR)

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

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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Fruitland - Gas and Food (UTBDR)

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

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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. 

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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.

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Sego Canyon Ghost Town (UTBDR)

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

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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.

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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.

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Fisher Towers Viewpoint 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Newspaper Rock Petroglyph Panel (UTBDR)

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

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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.

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Abajo Mountains Views (UTBDR)

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

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Gooseberry Guard Station Meadow (UTBDR)

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Blanding - Food, Gas, Lodging (UTBDR)

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

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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.

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Wolfman Petroglyph Panel (UTBDR)

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Mexican Hat Rock (UTBDR)

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

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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.

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Mexican Hat - Food, Gas, Lodging (UTBDR)

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

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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.

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Arizona Border (UTBDR)

This is the official starting point of the UTBDR.

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.

Gadgets
  • Map holder / map case
  • GPS unit
  • GPS mount
  • Compass
  • Cell phone
  • Phone charger
  • Plug adapter: auto to BMW plug
  • Camera
  • Spot II
  • Notebook
  • Pencil/pen
Clothing
  • Rain shell
  • Riding socks (2)
  • Zip pants/shorts
  • Short sleeve (base layer shirt)
  • Swim suit
  • Flip flops/sandals
  • Riding jersey / long-sleeve (base layer shirt)
  • Fleece jacket
  • Underwear
  • Wool beanie
  • Ball cap
  • Socks
Motorcycle
  • Engine oil
  • Clip-style master link
  • Fuses
  • Chain lube
  • Spare inner-tubes
Riding
  • Helmet
  • Boots
  • Goggles
  • Gloves (2 sets)
  • Protective gear (pressure suit, Leatt brace, knee braces)
  • Jacket
  • Pants
  • Balaclava or neck gaitor
  • Water bladder or bottle
  • Hydration pack
  • Ear plugs
Personal
  • Toiletries
  • Soap
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush & Floss
  • Towel (MSR Pack Towel)
  • Razor
  • Toilet paper
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Pain reliever
  • Allergy meds
  • Wet Wipes
  • Sun Glasses
  • Passport if going into Canada
  • Money (credit cards & cash)
Camping Gear
  • Sleeping bag
  • Pillow
  • Roll pad
  • Tent
  • Dry bags (2) for tent, sleeping pad & sleeping bag
  • Water storage (Dromedary Bag)
  • Folding hand saw
  • Water filter
  • Eating utensils
  • Lighter / waterproof matches
  • Can opener
  • Pots & pans
  • Coffee brewing device
  • Coffee cup
  • Headlamp (2)
  • Kitchen set & spices
  • Stove
  • Stove fuel bottle
  • Folding camp chair
Books & Maps
Tools & Misc
  • Tool roll / tool set
  • Tire levers
  • Tire patch kit
  • Air pump
  • Tire gauge
  • Quicksteel
  • Leatherman tool
  • Swiss Army knife
  • Large inflation CO2 (for tubeless tires)
  • First Aid kit
  • Zip ties
  • Duct tape
  • Wire
  • LocTite
  • WD-40
  • Tow strap
Food
  • Energy bars
  • Coffee
  • Oatmeal
  • Other ingredients based on meal plan

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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

What time of year can I do the UTBDR?

The UTBDR is best from August-October depending on early snow storms and weather.  The route can be done in May and June, but snowpack in the high mtns may keep you from doing the entire route as mapped.

Are BDR routes suitable for a 4x4 vehicle?

For the most part all of BDR routes are doable by 4×4’s with adequate tires and clearance. The roads are all public roads and do require a street legal vehicle.  One thing to keep in mind – the routes conditions can change dramatically due to rain and flash floods which cause the roads to become difficult or impassable.

The UTBDR probably will be the most challenging route in a 4×4 if you take the expert sections. Lockhart Basin is the hardest section of all the BDR’s.

I’m researching UT and having trouble finding campgrounds that are after Current Creek that are open in mid September.

Yes, pass Current Creek the campgrounds do close early because of the high elevation.  Once you get over to hwy 150 you might find a few campgrounds open if you go left (west) towards Kamas.  They are at lower elevations and will be a lot warmer. The reason the others close early, the hwy 150 is closed during the winter months.  Once you get over Bald Mtn Pass and turn onto the dirt road FS 032, you will find all kinds of great camping spots, but no campgrounds.  Once you get to Evanston Wyo, you won’t find any campsites until you are up on Curtis Creek Road.  There are plenty of campsites, but no campgrounds.  We’ve camped at both of these areas and never felt uncomfortable, but that’s a personal decision.

What is the UTBDR?

The Utah Backcountry Discovery Route (UTBDR) is mostly off-road route from Arizona to Idaho.  The South to North route winds through the red soils of southern Utah to the northern high mountains to the north. The route includes dirt, gravel, and pavement surfaces and may include rocks, ruts, sand, mud and snow depending on time of year and conditions. The route can be completed in 5-7 days depending on pace, and is also accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles, as the entire route is at least double-track.

How far between gas stops?

The longest gap between gas stations is approximately 165 miles from Wellington to Evanston, Wyo. This is if you stop at Soldier Summit for gas, if not the distance is 239 miles.

Can I build a camp fire?

In most cases camp fires are allowed, but check with local Ranger Stations to determine if campfires are allowed before you build one. Forest fires are a threat during parts of the year and the rules that manage this risk must be followed. Be sure to fully extinguish fires so they are DEAD-OUT. Use water to ensure a fire is fully extinguished and the ground is left cool and wet.

Is there water on the route?

There are very few natural water sources along this route and depending on the snow pack most are not running. You can find potable water in the towns along the way.  It is suggested that plenty of water is carried for personal and cooking use.  Take twice as much as you think you will need, because you will need it.  Here is a video on water filtration filmed in the Oregon Backcountry: http://youtu.be/vqOFZAoZdTU

Do I have to camp?

No, you can complete the UTBDR using motels and restaurants fairly easily.

Where do I camp?

There are many campgrounds and suitable dry camping locations along the route. The Butler Motorcycle Map for the UTBDR has a tent icon showing campgrounds on the route and many near the route. The UTBDR Butler Map is available at www.touratech-usa.com or www.butlermaps.com.

Why do I need paper maps when I have GPS tracks?

Always bring a complete set of maps for the area you plan to ride. They have good information about roads, water sources, and are an indispensable resource when the GPS doesn’t work, or is giving questionable advice. Unplanned events can occur and having paper/synthetic maps of the area can be a life saver. National Forest maps are available at the US Forest Service website and local Ranger Stations. UTBDR Butler Motorcycle Maps are available at www.touratech-usa.com or www.butlermaps.com.

What GPS should I use?

Any GPS unit capable of displaying 10 track logs with a minimum of 500 points each is suitable for use on the UTBDR. Garmin models that work best for this application are: Zumo 665/660, Montana, GPSMap 60, 62, 76, 78 and 276. Other GPS manufacturers may have units that will work. Check the technical specs to determine suitability.

Where can I find the GPS tracks for the UTBDR?

The tracks for the route can be downloaded free of charge at https://ridebdr.com/download-tracks/ .

What is the ideal bike to use?

Any bike that has a license plate, can run knobby tires and is set-up to carry the gear you plan to bring, and has the fuel range to make the distance between gas stops. Most adventure or dual sport motorcycles will be suitable for the trip.  Choose the bike that you are the most comfortable riding in desert and mountain terrain.

How difficult is the route?

The UTBDR route is designed to be ridden on adventure and dual-sport motorcycles, as well as driven in 4×4 vehicles. There are no single-track style trails on this route. Many of the roads are in remote areas and reach high elevation areas where road maintenance is minimal or non-existent. You can expect to cover sections of road with deep ruts, loose rocks, sand and other challenges. There are also sections that have deep sand for extended periods of time. Road conditions change from week to week based on the recent weather.  When you see signs that read, “Roads maybe impassable when wet”, use caution, roads become very slick and can be impassable. You may also encounter sections that have trees or branches over the road. There are alternate “easier” routes around a few of the most challenging sections. Depending on time of year and weather, there may be a few small shallow water crossings, but none worth worrying about. Flash floods are frequent during summer storms.  Don’t cross flooded washes. Wait until water subsides.

What tires should I use for the UTBDR?

DOT approved knobby tires are strongly recommended. Our team members used either Continental TKC 80, Mefo Super Explorer or Dunlop 606 tires when we rode the route.

Is Lockhart Basin really “Expert Only”?

Lockhart Basin is a very difficult alternate section to the UTBDR.  It’s labeled “Expert Only” to make riders aware of the risks when taking this route.  An average rider can ride this route, but is NOT advised to do so alone.  Bikes should be fully protected with good aftermarket protection like, skidplates, exhaust guards, hand guards, brake resivour guards, etc.  These can be found at www.touratech-usa.com or other retailers.  Lockhart is seldom traveled by others, so be prepared for breakdowns or overnight stay.  The mileage from the Needles Outpost to Moab is not far, but will take the majority of the day.  Carry as much water as you can carry, there are no water sources along this route.  We recommend this section be done with a group of riders.

How long does it take to run the UTBDR?

Most people average 150 miles a day on a backcountry motorcycle trip. Plan on doing this route in 5-7 days depending on how fast you want to travel and how early you want to roll out of camp.

Are there any gates on the route?

Yes, there are several gates on the route. Most all remain open unless BLM or NFS has closed them due to snow closure.

Is there cell phone coverage on the route?

Much of this route is remote and out of reach for cell phone towers. There will be long sections with no coverage. Your best bet to talk or text is in the towns or on top of mountains. You will be surprised where you get coverage and where you don’t. A satellite communication device is a good idea in the backcountry.

What weather concerns should I have?

Nevada has fast moving thunder storms during the summer months.  These storms usually build in the mountains in the early afternoon and usually contain lightning, hail stones and heavy downpours. These storms can contain heavy winds with blinding dust storms.

Can the Route be done North to South?

Yes the route can be done North to South.

What is the highest elevation on the UTBDR?

The highest elevations are reached in section 5 where Bald Mtn Pass reaches 10,700 feet. The route starts near 5000 ft and travels to over 10,000 ft six times along the route.

What about the clay?

There are several sections where the road is a clay surface.  When wet these sections become very slick and virtually impassable.  When you encounter wet clay roads, a higher gear selection is recommended to keep your rear wheel from sliding.  Slow and steady will get you through, but in some cases travel will come to a halt due to slick conditions.

How bad is the sand really?

This is a tough question to answer because conditions are constantly changing.  If the weather or temps have been cool, the sand will be firmer and significantly easier to ride.  If it’s been hot for some time, the sand becomes very soft and deep.  So the bottom line is, learn to ride in  deep sand before you come which will make your ride more enjoyable.

Can the Route be done North to South?

Yes the route can be done North to South.  However, it was laid out South to North so a few of the sections are harder going North to South.  For example, leaving Moab going over LaSal Pass is difficult going North to South. You may take the alternate route around LaSal pass. Lockhart Basin is also more difficult going North to South.

Which BDR is the easiest? Which one would you recommend for a rider that hasn’t done a long trip on dirt before. I have just taken an intro level training course and I ride a 1200GSA?

We get this question all the time. Here are some key things to consider as you put together your plan.

All of the BDR routes include intermediate to advanced terrain. If a person is on a large bike twin-cylinder bike like an R1200GS Adventure or Yamaha Super Tenere, the routes can be very difficult. If a person’s skills are not advanced level, they may consider taking a smaller bike or choosing the easier options when possible. A BDR is something a person should build up to and it shouldn’t be their first overnight trip on their ADV bike.

Although, WA and CO are less difficult than UT and AZ,  they all contain difficult sections. We suggest looking at the Butler Map and take the optional easier routes to avoid the difficult sections. Even taking this approach there may be difficult stretches depending on changes in road conditions, weather, construction and the unknown. This is part of what makes it an adventure. Regardless of its description on the map or in the film, no section of a BDR should be underestimated.

Do some shorter overnight trips as practice and ride increasingly difficult terrain to build up your skills and confidence. Also remember that riding with a fully-loaded bike should be practiced prior to tackling a BDR. Lastly, always ride with a group so that you have a team to help overcome any obstacles whether it’s terrain, mechanicals, navigation, medical emergency, etc…

In summary, take baby steps and work up to doing a BDR. Don’t make it your first adventure motorcycle outing on a full-sized twin-cyclinder bike.

What medical supplies should I carry on a BDR trip?

This advice comes from Rob Watt, BDR Board and Expeditions Member, and Wilderness EMT.

We carry items for wound management, breaks, basic meds and dental.  You can buy a good first aid kit at one of the outdoor stores online or Touratech-USA.  Get one that is an Extended Day Backpacker or 3-4 person kit.  These kits usually have the basics for a motorcycle trip.

They usually don’t have a SAM splint, so pick one of those up along with a couple ace bandages.  One other thing that we do for every multi-day trip, is to gather important information about each rider: allergies, medications, medical issues, emergency contacts, etc.

Then we put that on a master sheet for each person, so if something does happen we have that information handy incase that person can’t speak.  Another good practice is to do a little research of where medical facilities are along your planned route.  Is there a “flight for life” in the area? Where are the hospitals, Medical clinics, etc?

Here is a list of some items that you should have in your medical kit:

  • Bandages: Assorted sizes for small cuts, blisters, etc.
  • 4-inch closure strips or butterfly closures: For closing large wounds. 4-inch strips are more effective than butterfly.
  • 4 inch by 4 inch sterile dressing pads (5 to 10): To apply pressure to a wound and stop bleeding
  • Non-adherent sterile dressing (2 inch by 2 inch): Use these or Second Skin to cover blisters, burns or lacerations.
  • Gauze roll: Holds dressing in place.
  • Small roll of 1-inch adhesive tape: Holds dressings in place.
  • Multi-use tool or knife: Should include knife, scissors. A scalpel and blade are also useful for first aid.
  • Forceps or tweezers: For removing splinters, ticks, and removing debris from wounds.
  • Scissors: Trauma scissors, which have a blunt end to protect the patient, can be used for cutting away clothing from injury, cutting medical tape, etc.
  • Thermometer: Digital is generally more accurate, but batteries do wear out.
  • Malleable splint: Lightweight foam-covered aluminum, such as a SAM splint.
  • Irrigation syringe (35 cc): Used to flush and clean wounds.
  • Suction syringe (65 cc): Used to clear mouth of fluids when giving CPR.
  • Safety pins: Can help remove splinters, fasten arm sling, or make a whole in a plastic bag for improvised wound irrigation.
  • Cotton-tip swabs: For removing  foreign objects from eye, or applying antibiotic ointment.
  • Resealable plastic bags: Many uses, including icing a swollen joint or creating wound irrigation device.
  • ACE, Coban, or other rubberized bandage: Can be used as outer wrap on splints, wound dressings or support for joint injuries. Be careful not to wrap too tightly.
  • Antiseptic towlettes: For cleaning small wounds.
  • Cleansing pads with lidocaine: For cleaning. Includes a topical anesthetic for abrasions, stings, etc.
  • Topical antibiotic ointment: For application to wounds. Simple Vaseline can also be used in dressing a wound.
  • Moleskin: Prevents blisters. Cut and apply a section to your foot as soon as you discover a “hot spot.” Duct tape also works for this purpose.
  • Povidone Iodine USP 10 percent, 1 oz.: For preventing infection. Bottled PVD iodine 10 percent solution should be diluted to a ratio of 1 percent or less for flushing wounds.
  • Aloe vera gel: Found in packets or small bottles for relief of minor burns.
  • Pain relievers, including aspirin and Ibuprofen: Provides relief for minor aches and pains, reduces fever, helps reduce inflammation of sprains and other injuries.
  • Antihistamines: For relief of pollen allergies, or to reduce reaction to bites and stings.
  • Immodium 2 mg capsules or tablets: For relief of diarrhea from intestinal infections.
  • Pepto Bismol or antiacid tablets: For relief from general diarrhea, abdominal upset.
  • After Bite or hydrocortisone cream USP 1 percent: Relieves skin irritation from bites, poison oak, stings, or allergic reactions.
  • Latex or nitrile gloves: Protects against blood-borne diseases and infection.
  • CPR microshield mask: A compact flexible barrier with a one-way valve for rescue breathing, which protects user from blood, vomit or saliva.
  • Oral rehydration salts: Packet of electrolyte salts and glucose for treatment of dehydration, heat exhaustion, or loss of fluids from vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Space bag/blanket: Lightweight emergency shelter. For treating hypothermia victims.
  • Paper and pencil: For recording medical data such as body temperature, pulse, time and date of symptoms, injuries, medicines administered, etc. Most repackaged kits include accident report forms.
  • Wilderness First Aid booklet: Many prepackaged first aid kits contain one. An excellent pocket guide is the Wilderness Medical Handbook

Rating the Routes by Difficulty

We get a lot of requests to provide difficulty ratings. The difficulty of a route can change from day to day depending on weather, changes in the road conditions and road damage caused by a variety of forces including wind, storms, flooding, snow, logging, forest fires and more. The difficulty experienced by an individual also depends on their off-road skills, level of fitness, bike size and amount of weight carried on the bike. For these reasons we can’t provide a rating system like a ski resort. We can help you a bit by ranking the existing BDR’s from most difficult to least difficult. Here is the list: CA, AZ, UT, CO, NV, WA, NM, ID, MA. So CABDR South is the most difficult especially if you ride the expert sections and Mid Atlantic BDR is the easiest in general terms. Although MABDR is the easiest there are still a few challenging rocky sections and the several water crossings that can get very difficult if the water is high. Also mud can be very challenging if it rains heavily. We hope this helps you in your planning. Be sure to also review the FAQ’s for each route prior to planning your trip.

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