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ATV Adventures: A ride in Bullfrog Valley, aka dinosaur country

By Lynn Blamires - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Nov 18, 2021

Lynn Blamires, Special to the Standard-Examiner

Negotiating Shootaring Canyon in dinosaur country.

Capt. Ray Golden, who organized the Third Annual Ticaboo Fall Rally, called this trail “A Taste of Ticaboo.” However, Dr. Josh Lively went along to help us understand what this area would have looked like when dinosaurs walked here.

Dr. Lively is a doctor of paleontology at the Prehistoric Museum in Price. I labeled my GPS track “The Ticaboo Dino Drive.” The name doesn’t matter — the experience with someone who knew what they were talking about was a treat.

We lined up at the south end of the Ticaboo parking area and waited for the leader to move. When he did, our adventure began.

Making our way south, we soon dropped down into a shallow canyon and followed Hansen Creek north. Off to our right was Ant Knoll. I remember thinking that I was glad it wasn’t an ant hill.

That turned into Shitamaring Creek (such names — my mom would send me to my room) as we passed the mouth of Lost Creek Wash. Dr. Lively explained that this canyon used to be a vast desert.

Lynn Blamires, Special to the Standard-Examiner

In the beauty of red rock country.

Climbing out of the canyon, we passed the Shootaring Uranium Mine and dropped into Shootaring Canyon. This is a fun canyon to negotiate with challenging steps.

Dr. Lively explained that as we climbed out of that canyon we entered what used to be a seaway, then a swamp, another seaway and then what he called Mancosa Shale.

Stopping in this area, we scoured the ground finding fossils called “Devil’s Toenails.” Well, that is what they looked like. Dr. Lively told us that they were a bi-valve oyster and that the Mancosa Shale was under water at one time.

We soon crossed Bull Frog Creek and made a sharp 180-degree turn followed by another. They called this the Eggnog. Passing Butt Canyon, I thought how my elementary school buddies and I would have had fun with that name.

Shortly after passing Butt Canyon, we turned south on a portion of the Burr Trail and stopped in an alcove dotted with semi-giant boulders. Dr. Lively had a couple of tables set up with a variety of fossils on display.

He had one of the sharp blades from the claw of a Utahraptor, a skeleton of an alligator embedded in a plaque, a spike from the tale of a stegosaurus as well as one of the plates that lined his back, and he had a section of vertebra from a very large dinosaur. He said that it was a casting because the real one would be too heavy to lift. He also explained that the Morrison Formation contains a lot of evidence of ancient life including coprolite, dinosaur bones and petrified wood.

One of the riders went behind a rock hoping to find some seclusion after a day of hydrating. To his surprise, there was a port-a-potty hidden in the rocks with no signs indicating that it was there. He was excited about spreading the news, but the reactions he got soon settled him down.

Backtracking, we made our way around Big Thompson Mesa to the edge of an overlook into Capital Reef National Park. Halls Creek makes its way through this canyon into Lake Powell. We were at the head of a pack trail that goes down into the canyon. It didn’t look very inviting to me, but the view of this canyon was worth the trip.

The contrast in colors was remarkable. Across the canyon, the walls were made of rugged slate grey outcroppings while the walls on our side were rich in reds, oranges and browns, but no less rugged. Large red monoliths marched down the canyon floor toward Lake Powell.

On the road again, we finished our loop around the mesa and rejoined the Burr Trail. This part of trail passes through the Glen Canyon Recreation Area and is paved.

Approaching State Road 276 that passes in front of the Ticaboo Resort, we took off on a dirt trail back to the resort, finishing a ride of about 66 miles. For me, it is more fun to ride a trail than it is to drive on paved road.

As I reviewed the pictures I took on the trail, there was picturesque scenery at nearly every turn. We were dropping down into canyons and driving around huge monuments in some of the most amazing country I have ever seen.

When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and enjoy your own ride in dinosaur country.

Contact Lynn R. Blamires at quadmanone@gmail.com.

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