2016 Jp Dirt ‘N Drive Part 2: Onward To MoabPosted in Jp Dirt N Drive: 2016 on May 23, 2016
In Part 1 of the 2016 Jp Dirt ’N Drive presented by Jeep adventure, we told you of our fantastic meet-up and registration day with more than 70 Jeeps, their owners, and their family and friends at Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall in Las Vegas. We hit the trail early the next morning and drove through pine-dotted mountains and then across a landscape of open range, multi-colored sandstone cliffs, and sand dunes. We shared some great wheeling, and at the end of the day, overnighted at Ruby’s Inn, a historic lodge near the brim of Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. That night we all shared food, beverage, and camaraderie before hitting the hay to get ready for the next day on the trail.
The following morning nearly 100 rigs were on the road and driving away from Ruby’s before the sun was on our side of the horizon, but the predawn start was worth it to see the widening glow spreading across the land as we stopped for a fuel top-off, coffee, and donuts in Escalante, Utah. Another few minutes up Highway 12 and we were slowing into Boulder Town, keeping our eyes peeled for the Burr Trail turnoff.
Driving Through History
The Burr Trail cuts due east from Boulder Town across Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and then drops down into the Waterpocket Fold of Capitol Reef National Park. John Burr carved this “road” in 1876 to move cattle back and forth between winter and summer ranges and to market. Burr’s cattle trail wound its way through the rugged and nearly impassable country of the Waterpocket Fold, Burr Canyon, and Muley Twist Canyon. It soon became known as the Burr Trail. Today, the first 20 miles are now paved, but the remaining 50 miles of dirt road leads hardy travelers all the way to Bullfrog, Utah, in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Our path would take us through spectacular canyons walled in on both sides by skyscraping red rock (Navajo Sandstone) formations, then down the “infamous” Burr Trail dirt switchbacks (just more than one vehicle wide and offering no safety rails to keep you from tumbling off the cliff if you make a mistake) to the bottom of the Waterpocket Fold. The Waterpocket Fold is a monocline (an upward fold in rock strata) and was formed by the same geologic compressive forces that created the Rocky Mountains. It runs approximately 100 miles in a north-south direction with a steep dip toward the east. The rock layers on the west side can rise as much as 7,000 feet above the layers on the east side. We turned south on the Burr Trail once at the Waterpocket Fold’s bottom, known as the Grand Gulch.
We were not headed to Bullfrog, however. After about 15 miles of the Burr Trail, we turned east on to Eggnog-Star Springs Road (another unmaintained dirt road) and climbed to the high desert plain between the Waterpocket Fold and the Henry Mountains. Our 35-mile trek across this open, mesquite-covered country took us through Eggnog, a site used as a gathering place for Wranglers of another kind—cowboys who, when the time comes, round up the range cattle wandering this area. The massive wall of the Henry Mountains with its 10,000-foot peaks to the north lorded over us as we continued on to the tiny town of Ticaboo at Highway 276. We had just traversed one of the largest open, undeveloped, and unpopulated sections of Utah, and other than fellow Jp Dirt ’N Drive participants, we had encountered no one.
Once on pavement again, we aired up tires to make the trip north on 261, then southeast on Highway 95 across the northern tip of Lake Powell at Hite, and onward to the junction with Highway 261. A southerly jaunt on 261 took us to the Moki Dugway, our last bit of dirt-road adventure for the day.
The Moki Dugway was constructed in the ’50s to provide a way to haul ore from the Happy Jack Mine on top of Cedar Mesa down the mountains to the mill in Halchita, near Mexican Hat. The dirt switchbacks of the Dugway are carved into the face of the cliff edge of Cedar Mesa. It’s a staggering 3 miles of steep, unpaved twists and turns (an 11-percent grade) that drop you 1,200 feet on to the desert floor below near Valley of the Gods. The views while descending the Dugway are breathtaking, and you can see the spires of Monument Valley far off in the distance.
From the bottom, our trail took us back northward on Highway 163 to Bluff and then to Blanding and Monticello (where a few us had a late lunch) on Highway 133. From there it was a straight haul to Moab and the Bar-M Chuckwagon for the raffles and a mouth-watering BBQ dinner. One lucky Jp Dirt ’N Drive participant took home a Jeep JK Wrangler grille that was autographed by the entire Jeep design team (super collectible!). Others won product from sponsors such as a Sunrider for Hardtop from Bestop, Cam Cans from Daystar, and Recovery Ropes from Voodoo Offroad Ropes. And everyone got T-shirts, hats, and all kinds of other goodies. No one walked away empty handed.
Most importantly, everyone who participated in the 2016 Jp Dirt ’N Drive presented by Jeep came away with the shared experience of having spent a couple of days wheeling through incredibly beautiful country, meeting new friends, showing off their Jeeps, checking out other Jeeps, and talking Jeep with people who live the Jeep lifestyle. If you want to join us next year for the 2017 Jp Dirt ’N Drive, stay tuned to fourwheeler.com for the Jp Dirt ’N Drive event registration sign-ups!