Trips and Trails: Utah Backcountry Discovery Route (UTBDR)

There are few places in North America that invoke feelings of awe and wonder as the state of Utah. Utah is approximately seventy-five percent public land and the Utah Backcountry Discovery Route (UTBDR) takes you through some of the most beautiful areas in Utah. The BDR routes are designed with the adventure motorcycle rider in mind, but the Utah Backcountry Discovery Route is drivable by both motos and four-wheel-drives. 

Photo by: Backcountry Discovery Routes

Photo by: Backcountry Discovery Routes

The UTBDR begins in Mexican Hat, UT near Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods and meanders through eastern Utah and terminates 744 miles later in Garden City, UT on the Idaho border. The route navigates the Moki Dugway up into Bears Ears National Monument, along Lockhart Basin and the San Rafael Swell, and through the Aboja and Uinta Mountains. 

Photo by: Backcountry Discovery Routes

Photo by: Backcountry Discovery Routes

Overland travelers can expect to see diverse terrain including vast deserts, ancient petroglyphs, beautiful mountain ranges and much more on the UTBDR. Utah has some of the most diverse landscapes and environments in North America and they are on full display along this route. Come prepared for long stretches of sandy tracks as well as gear to cross mountain passes above twelve-thousand feet. 

The UTBDR is a moderately difficult overland route due to the unpredictable conditions and remoteness of the track. The route was developed to be ridden south to north and the route will be significantly easier in this direction. Like most of the Backcountry Discovery Routes, there are easier routes for those not wanting to push their limits. Dispersed camping is available on most of the route and campgrounds are abundant along the way. Pick up a Butler Map for detailed information, elevation graphs, and locations of campgrounds along the way. 


Time: 5-10 days 

Distance: 744 miles/1,200 kilometers

Fuel: Fuel is very available along the UTBDR with the longest stretch being 165 miles without fuel. When traveling through remote desert landscapes it is always good to bring along a few gallons of extra fuel. 

Water:  Plan to bring double the amount of water that you anticipate requiring. Plan more than one gallon of water per person per day, especially in summer months.

Permits: No permits are required.

Other considerations:  Rainy weather makes the roads incredibly slick and sometimes impassable. Check with BLM Field Offices for weather and conditions updates. Plan some flexibility into your itinerary to allow for washed out roads or other unexpected hazards.

For more information:

Utah Backcountry Discovery Route

Butler Maps

Header image: Backcountry Discovery Routes

Photo by Brett Willhelm


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