Utah’s Bicentennial Highway
& Trail of the Ancients
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 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)
- 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)
- Hogwarts Canyon – Popular canyoneering spot in the North Wash.
- 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.