Saucer Basin and Bull Hollow via Mountain Bike

Last weekend I took to the San Rafael Desert and did some mountain biking. I’d recently watched this video of biking at Saucer Basin and seen some photos of people riding near Bull Hollow, and I set out to ride in both areas myself. Saucer Basin was a lot of fun. I parked on the side of a nice graded dirt road and started riding the slickrock right from the truck. It had rained a lot in recent days and I found several pools full of water. The riding was smooth and flowing, and routefinding around bowls of sand and cracks in the sandstone was fairly easy. I rode to the west along a fin of sandstone to a point overlooking the upper drainage of Moonshine Wash just above where it becomes a slot canyon. I returned east then rode north to a local high point in the slickrock. The terrain became jointed and eventually I had to ditch the bike and hike for a while to reach the high point. On my way back toward the truck I wandered around a bit and explored the slickrock more by bike. I returned to the truck after almost three hours of riding and ate lunch, then moved along toward Bull Hollow.

Parked on the slickrock near Saucer Basin
Parked on the slickrock near Saucer Basin title=

Slickrock with Saucer Basin looking unusually green in the distance
Slickrock with Saucer Basin looking unusually green in the distance title=

One of several pools in the slickrock
One of several pools in the slickrock title=

Another large pool
Another large pool title=

Old cairn and post
Old cairn and post title=

This was steeper than it looks–I tried to stop and kept skidding downhill
This was steeper than it looks--I tried to stop and kept skidding downhill title=

End of a sandstone fin
End of a sandstone fin title=

View over Moonshine Wash toward Gruver’s Mesa
View over Moonshine Wash toward Gruver's Mesa title=

Saucer Basin slickrock
Saucer Basin slickrock title=

Colorful chert that was everywhere
Colorful chert that was everywhere title=

Near the high point of the slickrock
Near the high point of the slickrock title=

View north from the high point
View north from the high point title=

Possibly the only tree for miles around
Possibly the only tree for miles around title=

Drainage leading into Saucer Basin
Drainage leading into Saucer Basin title=

On the way to Bull Hollow I detoured to check out what looked like a dam in Google Earth. Before I started hiking I waited out a storm that was on the far side of Keg Spring Canyon and looked like it was moving in my direction, but after about 30 minutes it was clear that the storm would miss me. It was a short hike and I actually found two dams there. The first I encountered was an earthen dam with a basin that had been blasted out of the sandstone. The second (which I’d seen in Google Earth) looked like concrete, but after a closer look I realized it was some sort of concrete/styrofoam mix.

Parked on a knoll south of Bull Hollow
Parked on a knoll south of Bull Hollow title=

Storm to the east
Storm to the east title=

Fluffy clouds to the west
Fluffy clouds to the west title=

Hiking out to two strange dams
Hiking out to two strange dams title=

Reservoir that was blasted out of the sandstone, with an earthen dam
Reservoir that was blasted out of the sandstone, with an earthen dam title=

Another reservoir with a styrofoam and concrete dam
Another reservoir with a styrofoam and concrete dam title=

Styrofoam and concrete dam
Styrofoam and concrete dam title=

Blast marks
Blast marks title=

Interesting green and yellow chert
Interesting green and yellow chert title=

With my curiosity satisfied, I headed back to the truck and moved along to the Bull Hollow area. That turned out not to be as fun as riding Saucer Basin. The sandstone was rougher and there were more joints and sandy areas within the sandstone that made riding and routefinding difficult. I ended up following an old road for much of the distance as I made my way to an overlook of the Green River in Labyrinth Canyon. Despite the riding not being as fun, the views more than made up for it. I spent about two and a half hours riding to and from the rim of Labyrinth Canyon.

Riding the slickrock around the head of Bull Hollow
Riding the slickrock around the head of Bull Hollow title=

View into Bull Hollow
View into Bull Hollow title=

Across the slickrock, nearing Labyrinth Canyon
Across the slickrock, nearing Labyrinth Canyon title=

Rim of Labyrinth Canyon
Rim of Labyrinth Canyon title=

Green River panorama
Green River panorama title=

Nearby Entrada Sandstone formations with the Book Cliffs and Mt. Elliott in the distance
Nearby Entrada Sandstone formations with the Book Cliffs and Mt. Elliott in the distance title=

Navajo layers
Navajo layers title=

Riding along an old road
Riding along an old road title=

While driving home I stopped at Chaffin Ranch and checked out a cistern that I’d never noticed on my several previous trips there. It was fully lined in concrete and had a ceiling made of steel and wood beams topped with concrete. Inside were quite a few dead rabbits that I can only imagine ended up there accidentally. The geyser at the ranch wasn’t erupting, though I took some photos of the interesting textures and colors in the minerals there.

Cistern at Chaffin Ranch
Cistern at Chaffin Ranch title=

Roof detail
Roof detail title=

Dead rabbits in the cistern
Dead rabbits in the cistern title=

Chaffin Geyser mineral textures
Chaffin Geyser mineral textures title=

Chaffin Geyser mineral textures
Chaffin Geyser mineral textures title=

Chaffin Geyser mineral textures
Chaffin Geyser mineral textures title=

Chaffin Geyser mineral textures
Chaffin Geyser mineral textures title=

Chaffin Geyser mineral textures
Chaffin Geyser mineral textures title=


Photo Gallery: Saucer Basin and Bull Hollow via Mountain Bike
GPS Tracklog and Photo Waypoints:
[Google Earth .KMZ] [Google Maps] [Gmap4 Topo]