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June's Bottom

June's Bottom is a slickrock riding area in the San Rafael desert south of the town of Green River. There are many possible riding combinations, depending on your appetite for adventure. The simplest ride is around 12 miles following a simple loop while sampling the slickrock along the route. For those who are game for a little exploration, I describe mountain bike routes of around 15 miles that explore the slickrock and visit the Green River both from the cliffs above and from the sand along its bank.  

Looking north from the cliffs above the Green River. Photos and ride description November 15, 2011 by Bruce.

June's Bottom is located about seven miles south of Bull Bottom, another area of slickrock along the Green River. This biking area is very remote. Come prepared. On the day of my ride, I passed no vehicles going either way, and the dirt areas showed no tire tracks since the rain 4 days previously. 

This is the trailhead. Although you can't see it, there's a faint doubletrack just behind the log barrier. It will get more obvious, and more heavily traveled, after about 1/4 mile.

There are three components to June's Bottom. You can combine them (or skip them) for many nice ride combinations:
1. The main loop. This 11.3 mile loop reaches the slickrock area at its north end.
2. The slickrock. Primo waves of Navajo sandstone. Lots of it.
3. The Bottom. At the northeast corner of the loop, you can navigate down to the river itself.

Sure doesn't look like much from here! Have faith. There is rock to be ridden here.

The Loop:
The eastern limb of the loop is easier, and is quick for an out-and-back. Note that the "Classic" ride described below uses the western limb for both directions. You can easily alter the ride plan to go in and back out using the eastern half of the loop. When doing the full loop ride, I suggest a clockwise route. The counter-clockwise return on the ATV track has some short but ugly loose steeps. Both sides of the loop have some sand areas, but you should be able to cruise right through.

Handlebar view as we follow the doubletrack north. You can see a glimmer of the slickrock, with the Book Cliffs in the distance.

The Slickrock:
The slickrock is undulating waves of continuous Navajo sandstone. Most of it is pretty smooth. It slopes gently outward from the red-rock hill to the cliffs above the Green River. It's half a mile wide and several miles long. While my ride description uses only the open rock between the western side of the loop and the descent to the river, there's more continuous slickrock to the west along Three Canyon.

As we leave the dirt layer of the lower Entrada, we hit Navajo sandstone. Note the rock marker. At this point, we can follow the ATV route along the dirt's edge, or head left to navigate the sandstone wilderness.

The Bottom:
From the loop, you can descend two miles to the river itself. There's a large rock pile at the jump-off point. But you're heading northeast on faith. You may or may not see an occasional rock cairn. Once you get into the right area, you'll see ATV tracks in dirt between sandstone mounds, and occasional cairns. Now it's fairly easy to follow the descent down levels of sandstone until you arrive at the cottonwoods of the river bottom. The descent is upper-intermediate technical. The return has some granny-gear grunts with ledges.

When riding the "sampler" loop route (described below), we head gently downhill toward the Green River, then turn 90 degrees right to traverse a couple of sandstone miles toward the descending trail.

Select your ride based on your sense of adventure. This is definitely NOT a white-paint-spot "ride exactly here" type of trail. You can go anywhere. Whether intentionally or not. A GPS track really helps. But I found everything without a GPS track. (My ride was 30 miles, but my map shows only the "bare bones" routes after crunching the data to eliminate some fun exploration.)

The ATV route along the edge of the Entrada allows occasional glimpses into the gorge. The mountains on the skyline are the La Sals.

Ride 1: East-side Out-and-Back to River.
Take the eastern side of the loop, visit the main cliff-top viewpoint on the way north, then descend to the Green River. Pedal back the way you came.

Pass the usual trailhead and park 0.2 miles further east at the road intersection. Start by heading directly east in the same direction as the road you came in on. Fork left after 1/4 mile. 

For this photo, I've gone about 200 feet off the eastern side of the main loop to find my own viewpoint. 

At mile 5.6, fork R on the DT to the viewpoint (0.2 miles each way). At mile 5.7, turn northeast and ride the slickrock until you pick up the trail down to the river. The river bank is mile 8.7. Backtrack to your car to complete the ride with 17.5 miles.

Rubber Ducky Rock. So named on November 15, 2011. On the eastern end of the loop, this would be on your way back from the East-side Out-and-Back, or from a clockwise loop.

Ride 2: Simple Loop.
Ride clockwise. When you hit the slickrock area at mile 3.6, follow the course of the ATV loop. But you can venture downhill a little onto the slickrock. Just follow the general loop shape, returning uphill to the ATV path as you reach the east side. The ride will be around 11.5 miles, depending on how much zigzagging you do on the sandstone.

Just about anywhere along the loop, you can take a trip out onto the waves of sandstone for some cruising.

Ride 3: Loop with River Visit.
Start clockwise on the loop as above. As you near the eastern end of the red dirt, be sure to angle up and find the doubletrack path along the edge of the rock. Find the big rock pile at around mile 4.7 (see photo -- if you turn south on the ATV track, you missed it). Head northeast down the rock and find the trail to the river.

View north from the formal viewpoint (marked with a waypoint in the GPX area file), reached by a short doubletrack from the eastern side of the loop.

After reaching the river, head back uphill. But as you hit the flatter areas of sandstone, veer south. Aim for the edge of the red dirt in the distance. Once you intersect the loop trail, continue south and complete the loop. The ride will be 15.0 miles.

View south as the Green cuts down past the Navajo sandstone into the Kayenta.

Ride 4: Classic June's.
Start on the western side of the loop, as though you're going to ride clockwise. As you reach slickrock at mile 3.6, hug the side of the mountain to stay on the ATV path. At mile 4.7, find the rock marker (see photo) and start the descent directly northeast.

This rockpile on the main loop marks a logical spot to start the descent toward June's Bottom on the Green River, which is about a mile away. From this point, start angling downhill to the northeast.

Find the ATV path down to the river, marked by cairns. At mile 6.7, you're at the river. Begin climbing back out. About a mile into the return climb, just as the slickrock begins to flatten a little, turn to the west. Make your own path across the rock. Angle a little north (right) to reach the cliffs above the river.

About half-way into the descent, it becomes more technical. There are steeper areas with ledges, with stretches of smooth cruising between.

After you're forced away from the river, continue another 1/2 mile or so west. When you see the edge of the red hill (where you came in) directly to the south of you, around mile 9.5,  turn 90 degrees uphill. Find the spot where the ATV path entered the sandstone, and head back home. You'll have to contend with a few short steep spots in the dirt. The ride will be 13.7 miles.

Last bit of descent. We'll follow this break in the rock line westbound.

Ride 5: Sampler Loop with Slickrock to River.
This ride is more fun, but it requires a good sense of direction and of position. Unless you're riding with a GPS display. Then you're golden. Start the ride on the eastern doubletrack as above. But when you reach slickrock at mile 3.6, turn left (north) and head as far as you can toward the river.

June's Bottom. It's a sand pit, but I was able to ride 1/3 mile north to explore. To visit the river, turn to the right and bushwhack. There's no real trail here.

Find a spot to turn eastward, continuing to angle as close to the river as the stone will allow. You'll reach cliff edge over the river about mile 4.7. Continue on this course until you blunder across the descending path to the river. It will be marked with cairns, with occasional track across spots of dirt between waves of rock. About mile 7.2, you'll reach the river.

Navajo sandstone cliffs across the Green River.

Head back uphill. But as you reach smoother flatter sandstone, angle off to the left, aiming for the edge of the mountain. (I'm talking about the red Entrada sandstone hill that was to your right as you traversed the sandstone.) After a couple of miles, find the ATV path on the red dirt at the edge of the sandstone, somewhere around mile 9.4. Continue south to complete the loop. The ride will be around 15.5 miles.

The sandstone area is a wonderland of frozen waves of sandstone. Great riding that goes on and on.

Bottom Line:
This ride is worth heading into the San Rafael desert. It's a fabulously fun area. The downside is the 30 miles of dirt road required to reach it. The road is fairly smooth and high-speed, but it will take you about an hour from Green River. (About the same time as it would take to reach Moab.) June's Bottom is remote and only occasionally visited by humans. Don't ride this route alone.

I'm heading westbound along the edge of the Green River, as on the Classic June's ride below. Awesome stuff. This is Alcove Bend. You can barely make out the entry to the slot canyon. The Bull Bottom trail is on the white rock above the cliffs to the right of the inlet.

Riding notes, Sampler Loop with slickrock and river:
(Navigation challenge, suggest use track file)
0.0   From log fence, northeast on DT
        N38 39.244 W110 08.551
1.8   Fork L N38 40.670 W110 07.798
3.6   As DT hits slickrock, turn L and head north
        N38 41.898 W110 07.331
        Unmarked, make your own route
4.1   Turn to east
        N38 42.226 W110 07.381
4.4   Angle a bit north to approach gorge
        Approx N38 42.221 W110 06.972
4.7   Approach edge of cliffs above river, east-northeast
        N38 42.276 W110 06.896
5.2   Traverse straight east
        Approx N38 42.432 W110 06.498
5.6   Intercept cairns and path down to river
        N38 42.327 W110 06.094
        Begin descent on ATV track, checkpoints:
        N38 42.347 W110 05.913
        N38 42.491 W110 05.908
        N38 42.547 W110 05.584
7.2   Bottom of rock  N38 42.762 W110 05.939
        R and head to river N38 42.822 W110 05.957
        Backtrack and climb uphill
8.6   Angle south away from downhill path
        around N38 42.329 W110 06.089
        Aim for edge of hill, cross rock toward DT
9.3   Meet DT around N38 41.942 W110 06.284
        Continue south on DT
9.6   L on DT toward viewpoint
        N38 41.822 W110 06.191
9.8   At viewpoint N38 41.857 W110 06.019
        Backtrack to ATV track
10.0 L to continue south on DT
10.2 Viewpoint to L
        N38 41.651 W110 06.333
10.4 Potential viewpoint on L
        N38 41.507 W110 06.366
10.7 L across rock to last viewpoint
        N38 41.192 W110 06.252
14.7 Fork R N38 39.291 W110 08.006
15.3 Straight N38 39.313 W110 08.297
15.5 Back at TH
Classic June's Bottom:
0.0   From log fence, northeast on DT
        N38 39.244 W110 08.551
1.8   Fork L N38 40.670 W110 07.798
3.6   As DT hits slickrock, keep straight 
        N38 41.898 W110 07.331
        Follow DT or cairns along edge of dirt
4.7   Big marker pile! L northeast on rock
        N38 42.167 W110 06.325
        Descend fall line NE
5.0   Pick up cairns and ATV track
        Approx N38 42.327 W110 06.094
        Track turns east
5.2   Track turns north
         Approx N38 42.341 W110 05.918
5.4   Turns east again
        Approx  N38 42.496 W110 05.908
5.7   Veer north again
6.0   Trail turns west N38 42.733 W110 05.490
6.5   At bottom, L to river  N38 42.762 W110 05.939
6.7   At river, turn around N38 42.822 W110 05.957
8.0-8.2  Leave return path to head west
        Sample N38 42.298 W110 06.169
        Angle toward river
8.6   Along cliff edge N38 42.434 W110 06.512
8.9   Angle away from river
9.6   L, south, uphill toward edge of mountain
        N38 42.213 W110 07.399
10.1 Find DT where dirt meets slickrock
        N38 41.898 W110 07.331
        R on DT and climb out
13.7 Back at parking
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. Zero your odometer. Stay on the main gravel road for 20 miles, then cross the new bridge over the San Rafael River. Note that spot! At 7.3 miles past the river, 26.9 miles since leaving the paved Airport Road, keep left at the road fork to stay southbound. 1.2 miles later, turn left off the main road on a smaller dirt road. Drive 1 mile on that dirt road. When you see a short log fence on the top of the rise with nothing around it, that's the trail. Find a spot to park. The trail begins by going around the log barrier and finding the faint doubletrack heading north.

An alternate parking spot is near the next road fork 0.2 miles downhill. The left fork is the route to the counterclockwise loop. If you ride counterclockwise, head due east on the doubletrack, then fork left again in 0.2 miles.

Riding resources:
Single-page riding guides:
     Classic June's   June's Sampler Loop
GPS track file (right-click and select "Save Target as..."):
     GPX tracks of entire area 
     Simple Loop   Loop with side trip down to river
     Classic June's    Sampler Loop with slickrock plus river
Maps for printing: 
     Satellite view as above (but higher res) 
     Roads from Green River 
Lodging, camping, shops:
     Links to Moab area resources
     Links to Price area resources

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