Utah’s Bicentennial Highway (SR 95) is located in the southeast section of Utah. This is the shortest route from northern Utah and Colorado to Lake Powell where Bullfrog Basin and Hite Outpost are located. Wahweap Marina at Page Arizona is nearly 100 miles farther from Salt Lake City. The highway runs through the northern section of Glen Canyon and over Cedar Mesa where Bears Ears, Natural Bridges National Monument, and countless archaeological and dinosaur sites are located. The highway forms part of the Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway.
The highway runs 122 miles from the SR-24 junction in Hanksville to the junction of U.S. Route 191 four miles south of the Blanding.
It crosses Cottonwood Wash just west of the US-191 junction; follows and crosses White Canyon; and crosses the Colorado River and the northeast end of Lake Powell at Hite Crossing Bridge, near the confluence of the Dirty Devil River, which it crosses just two miles later.
Hanksville to Hite Overlook
Hanksville Utah– Hanksville was first settled in 1882 and called “Grave’s Valley” after a member of the Powell expeditions, and renamed Hanksville in 1885 for Mormon pioneer leader Ebenezer Hanks. Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch often came to Hanksville for supplies while hiding out in the nearby canyons. The area is still rich in dinosaur fossils which are frequently uncovered at the Hanksville-Burpee Quarry. Seven miles from Hanksville, the Mars Desert Research Station is a testing area to explore similarities in the terrain between Earth and the Red Planet. Crew and equipment simulation tests occur during the winter months. Be sue to check out Hollow Mountain, a convenience store carved into a mountain right at the junction. This is a regular restroom stop on my tours. If your hungry order the Duke Burger at Stans Burger Shak located on the south end of town at the Silver Eagle Convenience store. Take home a piece of Coprolite (petrified dino dung)) from the Rockin Riddle Rock Shop on the west end of town.
Bull Creek Pass National Back Country Byway – Located 20 miles south of Hanksville. Bull Creek Pass is a self-guided auto tour through the Henry Mountains. There are hiking trails along the road. The lower parts of the pass are open all year. The loop is 68 miles long from UT 95 to UT 276 in Bullfrog Basin. The view from the route includes colorful canyons, steep cliffs, vast badlands, and rugged alpine mountains. The pass could take anywhere from 6-8 hours, depending on how often and for how long you stop. Make sure you are aware of previous and upcoming weather conditions, portions of this byway may require a 4-wheel drive vehicle.
Ticaboo – Located 12 miles from Bullfrog Marina on Hwy 276 and 60 miles from Hanksville. Ticaboo is an unincorporated town with a lodge, restaurant, full-service adventure outfitter (Lake Powell Adventures), rentals, guided services, RV park, and vacation rentals. Ticaboo is quickly becoming a popular basecamp for all land and water recreation in the North Lake Powell region. If you’re still hungry after that big ole Duke Burger in Hanksville, I recommend Smoki’s BBQ Smokehouse at Ticaboo Lodge (close in winter)
Burr Trail – Originally developed as a cattle trail by stockman John Atlantic Burr, the Burr Trail Scenic Backway passes through three iconic parks starting at Boulder Utah to the north located on Highway 12 to Bullfrog Basin and Ticaboo Utah to the south on Highway 276.
Bullfrog Marina – Bullfrog Marina is the second largest marina on Lake Powell. It is located 70 miles from Hanksville, 95 lake miles from Glen Canyon Dam and 87 miles from Salt Lake City. It is also located across from Hall’s Crossing Marina.
North Wash – Known collectively as the Irish Slot Canyons, Shillelagh, Blarney and Leprechaun canyons are accessible about 33 miles south of Hanksville in the North Wash, which runs parallel to Highway 95. Sandthrax is a fourth Irish Slot Canyon that is lesser known and much more difficult to explore. The North Wash starts out as a sandy creek bed near the Henry Mountains and runs south all the way to Lake Powell where it ends as a 1,200-feet deep gorge.
Leprechaun Canyon – From the bottom, Leprechaun Canyon adjacent to Hwy 95 is a family friendly slot canyon that all can enjoy from toddlers to grandparents. The walk to the entrance is a short distance from the highway, the canyon walls begin to rise above you almost immediately. Best place to park is at the Sandthrax campsite south of the canyon trail.
Sandthrax Campsite – Free BLM campground with fire rings and nothing more than a place to park. Sand and rocks with very little shade, but nice if you have the right camping gear. This is a popular area for canyoneers as it is accessible in the early spring and late fall. This campsite is located within the Bureau of Land Management Richfield District.
Hog Springs Picnic Area – The site consists of a suspended bridge, shade structures, picnic tables, grills, restroom, sidewalks, and interpretive kiosks. It is designated for day use.
Moki Queen Pictograph – The Moki Queen is a pictograph (painted figure) on the back wall of a sandstone alcove in North Wash, between Hite Crossing and Hanksville. Located along Highway 95 near Hog Spring Rest Area. Park at the rest area and walk down the highway until you see the alcove on the right. Don’t you think the animal next to the Queen looks like a plump hot dog? (Click on the photo button below to see for yourself)
Hite Overlook – The location is named after Cass Hite, a gold prospector and explorer of the Colorado River in the Glen Canyon area in the late 1800s. Great view of Glen Canyon.
Hite Outpost to 191 Junction
Hite Outpost – Hite Outpost is a remote Ranger District located at the top of Lake Powell, adjacent to the confluence of the Colorado and Dirty Devil Rivers. Service include; ranger station, RV park, campground, convenience store, fuel, outfitter store, recreation rentals, and guided services. This is a good place to get information, maps, and directions to hiking trails and back roads. I heard rumor that the outpost will be offering Jet Ski tours up the Colorado River through Canyon beginning this Spring. Count me in!
Mille Crag Bend – A large horseshoe bend in the Cataract Canyon section of the Colorado River. Available access via dirt road. North Lake Powell’s version of Horseshoe Bend.
Blue Notch – Graded County road from Highway 95, over Blue Notch Pass, almost to the shore of Lake Powell. Slightly more difficult trails will take you to the shore.
Jacobs Chair – At a certain perspective, this butte looks like an chair. Measuring 270 feet high, it was first reportedly ascended 1976. Starting in White Canyon, across Highway 95 from the Piute Pass Trail, visitors to this trail will enjoy beautiful views of red rock landscape with mesas, cliffs, and canyons.
Fry Canyon – Fry Canyon was a uranium boom town during the 1950s, and the Fry Canyon Lodge opened in 1955 but has since closed. The tiny hamlet, now a ghost town, is 19 miles west-southwest of Woodenshoe Butte, and 8 miles west-northwest of Natural Bridges National Monument. Canyoneers know that the Fry Canyon area is also great for exploring slot canyons.
Natural Bridges National Monument – View three majestic natural bridges from an overlook, or take the trails and experience their grandeur from below. Declared a National Monument in 1908, the bridges are named “Kachina,” “Owachomo” and “Sipapu” in honor of the Native Americans who once made this place their home. On March 6th, 2007 Natural Bridges National Monument became the first International Dark Sky Park.
Bears Ears– The monument is named Bears Ears for a pair of buttes that rise more than 2,000 feet above Utah state routes 95 and 261. Bears Ears National Monument is home to outstanding cultural, recreational and natural resources. The area is famous for its rock art sites, pueblo homes, rock climbing areas, San Juan river running, outstanding views for photography, camping areas, and designated routes.
Mule Canyon Trailhead – Ancestral puebloan ruin located on Cedar Mesa in Southeastern Utah. Well preserved Pueblo surface ruins found at this site are over 700 years old. The ruin complex includes above-ground and underground dwellings. (restrooms)
Butler Wash Ruins Trailhead– Butler Wash Ruin is a cliff dwelling that was built and occupied by the Ancestral Puebloans in about 1200 AD. Parts of the site has been stabilized and reconstructed, but most of it remains as it was found in the 1800s. This ruin is located in a side canyon of Butler Wash, on the east side of Comb Ridge.
Highway 261 to Bluff Utah (red route on map)
Muley Point– Muley Point is a remote cliff and scenic overlook near the top of the Moki Dugay. The overlook provides viewers with a panorama of the Goosenecks of the San Juan River, northern Arizona, and Monument Valley is visible in the distance.
Moki Dugway – The Moki Dugway is literally carved from the cliff face and talus slope on the edge of Cedar Mesa. The route connects Utah Highway 95 with US Highway 163 by crossing Cedar Mesa and plunging down the dugway at an 11% grade, revealing sweeping views of Valley of the Gods, stripes of color in the rocks of the San Juan River Canyon known as the Navajo Tapestry, and distant Monument Valley. Allow 1 hour travel time for the entire length of Utah Highway 261. This is a tummy turner for folks fearful of roads with exposure. I took a tour bus down this road in the ’90s! (I wasn’t the driver)
Valley of the Gods – Valley of the Gods is a scenic backcountry area is southeastern Utah, near Mexican Hat with similar features as nearby Monument Valley. Valley of the Gods is toured via a 17-mile, unpaved loop. The east entrance is accessed off US-163 approximately 15 miles west of Bluff. The west entrance is accessed off US-261.
Goosenecks State Park – On the edge of a deep canyon above the sinuous river meander known as a gooseneck. The San Juan River twists and turns through the meander, flowing a distance of over six miles while advancing one and half miles west on its way to Lake Powell. One of my favorite state parks. My groups like this viewpoint more than Horseshoe Bend!
Sand Island Petroglyph Panel – The Sand Island Petroglyph Panel is one of the finest examples of easily accessible Anasazi rock art. Located just outside of Bluff Utah it’s over 100 yards of rock art that spans everything from archaic to modern times. The sheer amount of art along with the time range it represents tells us that this area must have held some special significance.
San Juan River– The San Juan River originates along the slopes of the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado. The river flows through northwest New Mexico and southeast Utah before joining the Colorado River at Lake Powell. This is a shallow flat water river that is bathtub warm during the summer months. The river-way is filled with the region’s archeology, geology, and wildlife.
Bluff UT – Nominated as one of Budget Travel Magazine’s coolest small towns, Bluff is nestled between dramatic sandstone bluffs and the San Juan River on the Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway in southeastern Utah. Bluff is a gateway to many of the region’s archaeological sites and ruins. It’s my basecamp for exploring Cedar Mesa and Monument Valley. Places to Stay Stay at Desert Rose Resort & Cabins for modern comfort and conveniences while exploring the back country. Places to eat There are a number of great places to eat in Bluff but these three are my favorites. Dukes Bistro at the Desert Rose (I like the Chick Pea Tacos), Twin Rocks Cafe under the Navajo Twins (the Sheepherder Sandwich on Ash Bread is my favorite), Comb Ridge Bistro & Expresso Bar located across the highway from the Desert Rose. Outdoor Recreation Bluff is a good starting point for Cedar Mesa, San Juan River, Canyonlands, Bears Ears and other adventures. Wild Expeditions offers everything you need for adventure in the Four Corners region.
Navajo Twins – Named for mythical hero twins of Navajo legend stand two rock pillars known as the Navajo Twins. Located on the northwest corner of Bluff Utah high above the Twin Rocks Trading Post & Cafe.
Trail of the Ancients
The Trail of the Ancients is a National Scenic Byway located in the states of Colorado and Utah. The route highlights the archaeological and cultural history of southwestern Native American peoples, and traverses the widely diverse geological landscape of the Four Corners region. It was the first National Scenic Byway that was designated solely for its archaeological sites. The entire route is approximately 480 miles.
I spend a lot of time exploring this region, which has become my favorite section of the Grand Circle. Many of my tour guests often return wanting to see more of this historic trail.
Type point of interest in search field
San Juan River
Sand Island Petroglyph Panel
Bull Creek Pass National Back Country Byway
Navajo Twins, Bluff, UT 84512, USA
Butler Wash Ruins Trailhead
Butler Wash Ruins Trailhead Utah
Mule Canyon Ruins
Mule Canyon Trailhead Utah
North Wash North Wash, UT Lake Powell, UT 84533
Leprechaun Canyon Sandthrax Campsite north of UT-95 Lake Powell, UT 84533
Sandthrax Campsite North Wash, UT UT-95 Lake Powell, UT 84533
Moki Queen Pictograph
Moki Queen Pictograph, Lake Powell, UT 84533
Hog Springs Picnic Area
Hog Springs Picnic Area 6 UT-95 Lake Powell, UT 84533
Hogwarts Canyon Lake Powell, UT 84533
Mille Crag Bend
Mille Crag Bend, Utah, USA
Hite Overlook UT-95 Lake Powell, UT 84533
Hite Outpost 1 Hite Marina Hite, UT 84533
Blue Notch Blue Notch Rd Lake Powell, UT 84533
Fry Canyon, UT, USA
Jacobs Chair, Utah 84533, USA
Bears Ears East
Bears Ears East, Utah, USA
Natural Bridges National Monument
Natural Bridges National Monument Lake Powell, UT 84533