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Southern Utah on an ATV

Southern Utah on an ATV

Posted in: Outdoor adventures on September 27, 2019.

Gotta Go Fast

When you think about Southern Utah, you think about the national parks. And the remarkable scenery. And hiking, biking, climbing, and rafting through that scenery. Like most people, we at the Lodge at Red River Ranch love doing all of those things. But sometimes we also like to go a little bit faster, see a little more in a day. Which is why off-road trails are so awesome. Here are some tips on which trails are the most awesome-est. So bring (or rent) your ATVs, UTVs, dirt bikes, or Jeeps and explore Southern Utah in a whole new way!

Note: All of these trails are accessed via Utah Highway 24. Partly because that’s the most beautiful place in the world, but also because that’s where we’re from, so it’s the area we know the best.

The smooth sandy terrain of Planets of the Past trail

Just like Mars. Photo by Patrick Hendry via unsplash.com

Planets of the Past

This is Mars! Or the closest any of us will likely ever get to it. The terrain of this trail is so similar to the Red Planet that there is a research center out there to test equipment destined for Mars. It’s also one of the filming locations of the Disney film John Carter. (More info on that here, if you’re a movie location junkie.) Anyway, you can bring your off-highway vehicle of choice, wander out past the town of Hankesville, and rover across Mars yourself. The trail is located on the North River Road just off Highway 24. More details can be found at this trail guide here.

Petroglyphs on a white sandstone wall

The Holy Ghost Panel in Horseshoe Canyon. Photo by PDTillman via Wikimedia Commons.

Horseshoe Canyon

This is, of course, a great trail to ride. It’s 27-miles of easy terrain and great views. But what makes it even cooler is the massive, archeological site at the end of the trail. You can park your ATV, and hike into Horseshoe Canyon proper. Where you will find massive panels of petroglyphs left behind from the ancient Native Americans who used to live there. The main access for the trail is off Highway 24, on the same road that leads to Goblin Valley State Park.

Looking at the lodge from up on Velvet Ridge

We can see our house from up here. Photo by Red River Ranch.

Velvet Ridge

We love this trail. It’s located between the towns of Bicknell and Torrey, on the way into Capitol Reef National Park. The ride will take you into the Hell’s Hole rock formation (an awesome place to play hide-and-seek, by the way) and up onto the iconic red cliffs of Highway 24. And the views from up there are amazing! (Plus, as a bonus, you get to look down and see us, the Lodge at Red River Ranch, from up on those cliffs.) Here’s a link to a handy trail guide for Velvet Ridge.

A large monolithic sandstone formation in the empty desert

Factory Butte. Photo by Greg Rakozy via unsplash.com

Moonscapes and Goblins

This trail is runs from the Cathedral Valley geological formation known as Factory Butte to Goblin Valley State Park. (This trail guide contains a map for the turn off.) The trail itself is 30 miles, but if you want to do a loop, you can take Highway 24 back to the starting point, which adds 10 miles. The terrains is a bit rocky and you’ll have to ford the Muddy River. But we think it’s worth it. Along the way, be sure to stop by the Skyline View Overlook. Seriously, don’t miss it. And you can also check out Little Wild Horse Canyon on your way into Goblin Valley.

Note: If you need help renting an ATV or UTV, we know a guy! Check out our friends at Fremont River Guides to get yourself outfitted.

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