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Bull Bottom

Bull Bottom is a slickrock ride on Navajo Sandstone along the Green River. The riding isn't particularly strenuous and you can select your ride distance to match your time and leg power. On the tech scale, this would rank as a fairly easy ride. Riding season would be April through November.

Looking north at the Green River from where the DT enters the slickrock area. Photos and checkout ride by Bruce on May 3, 2011.

Bull Bottom is in the middle of nowhere, 25 south of Green River via graded dirt road. It's a few miles north of June's Bottom, another slickrock ride. There are no signs to guide you there. There's no water, no campgrounds, and nothing else to do in the area. To be worth doing, a remote ride like this must be something special. Bull Bottom qualifies. It's a very fun and scenic ride.

View east on the DT heading into the area. The domes are Entrada sandstone.

Come well-prepared. Know how to find Airport Road in Green River, and where to turn off onto the San Rafael Desert dirt road. And there are no trail signs. So be sure you can find the doubletrack that takes you to the ride. You need either a GPS unit, or a driving map combined with watching the auto odometer and keeping an eye out for landmarks.

The La Sal Mountains peek over the Navajo sandstone cliffs above the Green River.

There are three possible entry points to the slickrock. After 20 miles driving south on gravel road, cross the new bridge over the San Rafael River. Note that spot! 1.7 miles later, you'll pass a DT on the left. That's the return from the northern loop. Keep going. At 3.7 miles past the bridge, there's a DT on the left heading up over a small rise. It's marked by a "Designated Route" carsonite post. That's the official starting spot!

Looking south, as the Green River forms a dark slash. A slot canyon enters at the photo's right. The southern half of the slickrock navigates along the slot canyon's edge.

You can also enter the slickrock from the south end. Go 5.6 miles past the San Rafael River bridge. You'll dip into a wash. If you hoof it 0.15 miles down that wash, you'll find slickrock curving north to your left.

The bottom part of the Entrada in this area is banded mudstone and red dirt. The top is the more-typical sandstone as seen in the Moab area. The riding surface here is rolling Navajo.

There are several different ways to ride the slickrock. Most riders do a loop. You can do a smaller loop from the central (official) entry point, heading either north or south as you reach the rock. Or you can do the whole length of rock south-to-north. 

The rock has the cross-hatching of wind-blown dunes. In pits between mounds of rock, primrose blooms.

What I suggest is a "T" ride. After riding in on the DT, you'll go out-and-back in each direction. This ride is about 17 miles, of which 15 miles is slickrock. (It turns back before you hit the dirt area of the northern loop. See below.) 

Pick your lines. Tackle the challenges, or roll around them on easy sandstone. Lots of riding room. Stay off the dirt.

The T Ride (17 miles):
Start at the official doubletrack and ride 1.4 miles until you reach the little ridge separating the northern from the southern slickrock. (The DT proceeds a little ways to a viewpoint overlooking the Green River.) 

A rock-pile marks somebody's favorite riding line, as the Superfly 100 takes a break.

At the ridge, pick a direction. I suggest going north first. Drop north off the dirt DT onto Navajo sandstone. Now aim generally northeast. You'll make a lot of little turns as you dodge sand spots and rock outcrops.

Approaching the cliffs over the Green River.

The route isn't marked (as of May 2011). Several riders have piled up navigation cairns here and there. But there are multiple routes, and the cairns are too far apart to be of any help to you. If you're not a natural navigator, follow my GPS track on your display, zoomed-in to about 300 ft. Glance at it now and then to correct your general aim.

Paintbrush provides a splash of color.

The slickrock is mostly smooth and non-threatening. You'll get practice picking lines -- not only immediate lines, but also looking 1/4 mile ahead to select general routes.

View northwest. The Entrada Bluff will be on our left until the end of the northern half of the slickrock area.

After a mile or so, look for a small knoll along the edge of the river. You'll be arriving at the cliffs over the Green River just south of that knoll. (The trail will turn west away from the river before the knoll -- you won't go between the knoll and the river!)

Closing in on the cliffs above the river. The Book Cliffs, north of Green River, are in the distance.

Enjoy the views for a minute, then turn away from the river. Go left (west) about 90 degrees and begin climbing. As you get close to the dirty bottom layer of the Entrada bluffs, look for a good south-bound riding line on your left.  Return back to the beginning.

(For the northern loop ride, keep heading west uphill, then turn right to go around the small canyon. See below.)

Looking down at the river. The red canoe has three people in it.

When you're back at the starting point, do the southern singletrack heading south. This slickrock area is much narrower, and the riding line is a little more demanding as it tracks the edge of a side-canyon. You'll head west around three ravines. When you reach the fourth ravine, it's time to turn back (or head up the wash to reach the road).

Looking south from a river viewpoint.

Southern Loop (8.5 miles):
The southern loop is pretty straight-forward. Head south on the main gravel road until you hit the wash. Walk 0.15 miles down the wash, and start riding north when you hit slickrock. As you reach the DT, turn left and ride 1.4 miles to the road.

For the Big Loop (14.3 miles), so the first portion of the Southern Loop as above. But don't turn onto the DT. Just keep heading northeast and enter the Northern Loop.

Keep to the south of the small knoll after you reach the river. If you go around it on the river side, the trail will disappear in steep sandstone.

Northern Loop (8.6 miles):
The northern loop is more complicated, and may tax your route-finding skills. Start out on the T ride as above. When you turn west and climb away from the river, ride almost to the base of the bluff. Veer R and go around the ravine. 

Cross a little dirt ridge. A little bit later, the route becomes nothing but brush and dirt for about 0.1 mile. Watch your GPS track here, or just stay along the skirts of the bluff until you reach slickrock again.

We've reached the dirty area, where the slickrock edge is too steep and broken to ride. Hike or grind it. There's no real trail yet.

After 5.5 miles, you'll note that you've gone past the big Entrada bluff that lay to your left. As you head west into a broad wash, look for a giant rock pile. Find a convenient spot, and clamber 30-40 feet up the right edge of the wash. On the top, you'll find a DT. To return to the main road, go left.

Geodes abound in the rock at the base of the Entrada.

Getting there:  From US-6, get eastbound on I-70. Three miles from the on-ramp, exit at the first Green River off-ramp. Go left under the freeway and continue into Green River. At Airport Road 1.4 miles from the off-ramp stop sign, turn right (just look for the "Airport" sign). The road will veer left along the railroad tracks. Stay along the tracks until another Airport sign turns you right at mile 1.9, across the tracks. Go under I-70 and drive the paved road about 2 miles. At the "San Rafael Desert / Horseshoe Bend" sign 4.2 miles from the off-ramp, turn left onto graded gravel road. Stay on the main gravel road for 20 miles, then cross the new bridge over the San Rafael River. Note that spot! 1.7 miles later, you'll pass a DT on the left N38 44.113 W110 08.007. That's the return from the northern loop. Keep going. At 3.7 miles past the bridge, there's a marked (but unsigned) DT on the left heading up over a small rise N38 42.653 W110 08.776. That's the official starting spot! To get to the southern end of the slickrock, drive another 1.9 miles south until the road drops through a wash N38 41.061 W110 09.296.
Riding notes, T-ride (mileage will vary!):
0.0   East on DT from road
        N38 42.653 W110 08.776
1.4   Pass slickrock on south (right)
        N38 42.687 W110 07.714
1.5   R out to viewpoint and back
        North (R) on return
1.8   R off dirt onto slickrock, head NE
        N38 42.760 W110 07.567
3.6   Arrive at cliffs over Green River
        Turn left and uphill (before knoll!)
        N38 43.655 W110 06.844
3.8   Veer left and south for return trip
5.8   Up to dirt and across DT
         N38 42.703 W110 07.657
         Head directly south
6.3    Route curves R, follow edge
6.9    Apex of side-canyon N38 42.850 W110 08.085
7.9    Apex 2nd side-canyon N38 42.504 W110 08.707
9.4    Apex 3rd side-canyon N38 41.740 W110 08.874
10.6  Wash, double-back N38 41.044 W110 09.048
15.4   L on DT at original T fork
16.8   Back at car
Riding notes, Northern Loop (mileage will vary!):
0.0   East on DT from road
        N38 42.653 W110 08.776
1.4   Pass slickrock on south (right)
        N38 42.687 W110 07.714
1.5   R out to viewpoint and back
        North (R) on return
1.8   R off dirt onto slickrock, head NE
        N38 42.760 W110 07.567
3.6   Arrive at cliffs over Green River
        Turn left and uphill (before knoll!)
        N38 43.655 W110 06.844
3.9    R around slot canyon
4.2    Straight across dirt ridge
         N38 43.739 W110 07.114
4.4    Ugly dirt section, follow skirts of bluff
         N38 43.851 W110 07.006
4.5    Back at slickrock
5.0    Trail veers west (L) N38 44.180 W110 06.747
5.5    Watch for large rockpile
         Find way up R side of wash
         N38 44.512 W110 06.905
         L on DT
6.7    L on road N38 44.113 W110 08.007
8.6    Back at car
Riding resources:
Single-page, printable riding guide
GPS track file (right-click and select "Save Target as..."):
     GPX tracks of area   T-Ride course   North Loop   South Loop
Maps for printing: 
     Roads from Green River   Satellite view    High-Res Topo
Lodging, camping, shops:
     Links to Moab area resources
     Links to Price area resources

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