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ATV Adventures: Experience Anasazi country at the San Juan ATV Safari

By Lynn Blamires - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Apr 13, 2023
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Squeezing between the rocks on the Hook & Ladder Trail, one of the popular trails on the San Juan ATV Safari.
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Riding a section of the Hook & Ladder Trail.
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Rugged Country on the Bridger Jack Trail, one of the trails offered at the San Juan ATV Safari.
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Lynn Blamires

The variety of land features that make up Utah's amazing backcountry is what draws people from all over the world to see and experience it. It is also why there are more than 23 ATV/UTV jamborees with new ones being announced every year. Each one of these OHV events highlights a different and unique geographical section of the state.

The San Juan ATV Safari covers some of the most diverse terrain Utah has to offer. These include the Blue Mountains, a wide variety of Anasazi ruins, deep rock canyons, arches, interesting pioneer history and fascinating mysteries of the desert.

The dates are set for the 21st San Juan ATV Safari to be Sept. 13-16. Monticello is the host city this year, but the closing banquet will be in Blanding. Some trails leave right from town and others require trailering.

Fees for this event are $135 per rider whether you are a driver or a passenger. These fees include a night ride on the day of registration to a point where all riders meet for a dinner on the trail plus three full days of guided rides. Also included are the dinner served on the night ride, an ending banquet, a chance to win some great prizes, and a jamboree sweatshirt.

Registration is open and limited to the first 350 machines. Information on the itinerary and details on each of 18 different trail rides is found at https://www.sanjuanatvsafari.com. Because you can only ride three of the 18 trails offered, you will find yourself looking forward to next year's jamboree to ride three more.

I have ridden some of these amazing trails so I understand what makes this jamboree so exciting. Here are some of the trails from which you can choose.

Bridger Jack

This ride requires about an hour to reach the trailhead, but on the way there will be a stop at Newspaper Rock. This is one of the most famous petroglyphs in Utah. The ride is through red rock country with spectacular canyon views, fascinating archeological sites and beautiful arches. The ride is 38 miles long.

Hook & Ladder

The Hook & Ladder trail is a maze of trails with great views of the La Sal Mountains and the backside of Wilson Arch. There are technical spots on the trails and assistance with difficult terrain will be provided as needed. This is one of the most popular trails in San Juan County. Time to the trailhead is about an hour and the ride is 40 miles long.

The Falls Missile

The Falls Missile Trail received its name because of the waterfalls on lower Indian Creek and a spent booster rocket that was launched from Green River, Utah, that crashed to the earth not far from the falls. The trail travels past the old booster rocket and traverses slick rock, sandy terrain and multiple stream crossings. Time to the trailhead is 80 minutes and the ride is 20 miles long.

Arch Canyon

This trail will take you from South Cottonwood Canyon up and over Comb Ridge and through Arch Canyon where you will have several stream crossings. The Arch Canyon Trail is amazing with scenic views around every turn and has numerous archaeological sites, including the Jailhouse ruins high up on the cliff face. At the far end of the trail stands the massive Cathedral Arch. Five hundred yards further is its twin, Angel Arch. Time to the trailhead is 20 minutes and the ride is 32 miles.

River House Ruin

This trail was part of the Hole in The Rock Trail. Along this ride you will see the remains of the historic Barton Trading Post, San Juan Hill, Navajo Spring, native rock art and the magnificent River House Ruin. The time to the trailhead is 40 minutes and the ride is 15 miles long.

John's Canyon

The trail begins near Gooseneck State Park and travels along a bench overlooking the San Juan River. Entering historic John's Canyon, you will see petroglyphs and archaeological sites along the way. Look for a small Kokopelli petroglyph figurine etched on a bolder as you approach John's Canyon. It is 45 minutes to the trailhead and the ride is 30 miles long.

These are only six of the trails offered. When you register, take time to browse the gallery. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down, and I was very interested in the River House Ruin pictures I saw in the gallery.

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


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