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I think this post is a bit overdue. I did spend the majority of the last four years in Bullfrog, after all. So, here we are. This may not be the most exciting post you’ll find on here, but I sure hope it will be helpful.
Most people that visit Bullfrog Marina do so for houseboating or fishing and usually go there all the time. It’s tradition. But we did still get people passing through on road trips wondering what there is to do in Bullfrog that isn’t boating. And that’s what I’m here to share with you today because if you’ve been around here for any period of time, you probably know I’m not a water person.
But wait, why do you still work at Lake Powell if you don’t like water? Well, I like the place! And it’s close to so many other great national parks, state parks, and more. This is an often-overlooked Utah road trip stop and can give you some unique experiences to write home about.
Where is Bullfrog Marina?
Bullfrog is in the literal middle of nowhere. And I mean that. It’s at the north end of Lake Powell in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, between Blanding, Capitol Reef, and Hanksville.
When you’re coming to visit, I would recommend planning on just driving and not taking the ferry, but if you get to the turnoff by Halls Crossing (coming from Blanding) and see it’s open and get there in time, then take it. But it’s down a lot and really only saves like 30 minutes from the drive, plus it’s one of the best drives in Utah along Highway 95.
If you’ree driving the Burr Trail from Boulder, you’ll come out just outside of Bullfrog. I would highly recommend this drive if you are coming from the Bryce Canyon and Escalante area. Burr Trail is my favorite drive in the state so far. If you’re driving a large RV, trailer, or camper, you won’t be able to do this drive.
Hikes near Bullfrog Marina
While Bullfrog might not be a hiking and outdoor mecca like Moab, there are still plenty of hikes to keep you busy. Aside from the trails listed below, you can also just pull over and hike wherever you feel. If you do that, just make sure you’re confident in your hiking and navigational abilities. The hikes listed below are in order of close-ness to Bullfrog, starting close getting further away.
Visitor Center Slot Canyon
If you want a fun, relatively easy slot canyon hike that’s close to Bullfrog, this is for you. No, it doesn’t look anything like Antelop Canyon at the other end of the lake, but it is still fun and a little challenging. It’s a short hike and easy to walk to from anywhere else in Bullfrog. At the visitor center, go to the far left of the parking lot, the sides by the RV park, and head down the slickrock into the canyon.
There is a little trailhead sign where you should go. Once you’re down you can go to the right or left. Left will take you out by the RV park, right you may have to back track to where you started. I’ve only gone left, so I’m not sure on that. If you’re afraid of spiders, you may want to skip this one. There are a lot of daddy long legs in there. There may be water in some parts as well.
This is a nice, easy hike on the Burr Trail. It follows a wash before opening up into a valley (I guess?) full of toadstools and rock formations similar to Goblin Valley, but with less of them. It’s about three miles round-trip, pretty much flat, and wide open, so there is almost no shade. It’s the closest hike to Bullfrog that isn’t actually in Bullfrog.
This is a great hike if you want an overlook. You have a couple options for this. First, they’re is the official Halls Creek Overlook. It’s good, but I like the one in my post linked above a lot more. It’s a relatively short hike, and pretty easy. It’s not totally flat but it’s not crazy either. It’s one of the best views of the Capitol Reef Water Pocket Fold and Halls Creek.
Surprise Canyon will take you into the southern part of Capitol Reef National Park and away from all the crowds. It’s not the most magnificent slot canyon out there, by far, but it’s still a great short hike and is even better paired with the more impressive Headquarters Canyon just down the road.
I much prefer Headquarters Canyon over Surprise, but both aree great. This one is a little under three miles round-trip and has a pretty cool narrows section. Instead of the glowing sandstone, it’s a more dark rock and just looks really cool. This is one of my favorite hikes in the area.
This is primarily a backpacking trip, which I would love to do someday, but can also be done as a really long day hike. It’s somewhere between 15 and 17 miles round trip, but if you want to just do part, you can and it’s super cool! I’ve done part twice and started at the top of the Burr Trail switchbacks. It’s mostly flat (at the top section) but is in deep sand. There is more elevation change if you do the whole thing.
Other things to do in Bullfrog Marina
Bullfrog is a very water-centric place, because it’s on one of the coolest lakes in the country, and that’s why most people visit, but this post is mostly focused on the land based parts and how to visit. I’ll have a whole sepeerate post about boating on North Lake Powell.
You can either bring your own or rent them to do some kayaking in the area. A lot of the cool stuff might be a little far to kayak to, but you’ll be able to kayak around Bullfrog Bay, by Stanton Creek, over to Halls Crossing, and if you’re really determined, Halls Creek Bay or Lost Eden.
Rent a boat
If you want to get out and see more of the lake, rent a power boat, pontoon, or jet skis! If you do this, don’t forget to bring a map! North Lake Powell is so much prettier, so if you can, definitely rent a boat! Some of the best things to see by boat are Smith Fork, Forgotten Canyon and the Defiance House Ruins, Tapestry Wall (there are dinosaur tracks here!), Annies Crack, and all the canyons in between.
I know nothing about fishing, I don’t know the best places to go fishing, but it’s one of the best things to do on Lake Powell. If you want to know more about fishing on Lake Powell, Waynes Words is the place for you.
Do an offroading tour in Ticaboo
I haven’t tried this yet, but they offer a few different types of tours like off roading, hiking, biking, and canyoneering.
Hotels in Bullfrog Marina
You have two hotel options for staying in (or near) Bullfrog Marina. One in Bullfrog, one in Ticaboo, and the next closest is in Hanksville about an hour away.
This is thee lodge in Bullfrog with a wonderful view of the lake. It’s not the most budget friendly, but if you want to be close to the lake, this is the best (and only) option. It is not right by the lake shore because that changes due to water level all the time, but it’s not far from it either. You can see the lake from the lodge.
Ticaboo is a little more budget friendly than the Defiance House, but it’s about a fifteen minute drive from the lake. You cannot see the lake from here.
Camping in Bullfrog Marina
There are a lot more camping options in Bullfrog than hotels, thankfully, some are paid, some are free. Here is everything you need to know about that.
The Bullfrog Campground is across from the gas station. It’s the one with all the trees. There are no electrical hookups in here. It’s $26 a night, cash only, and you can pay at the campground entrance. If you have a small RV or camper it should fit here and if you don’t need hookups, I would recommend the campground over the RV park since it has more shade. There are bathrooms in each loop (three loops, 70ish spots) and showers to use at the post office up the hill. This is not by the water.
Bullfrog RV Park
This is kind of next to the visitor center on the way down to boat rentals. The RV Park is about $52 a night and does take reservations. There isn’t tons of shade here and it is all dirt, no cement pads. It’s got full hookups (water, power, sewer) and is 30 AMP. There are showers and bathrooms here and there are about 22 spots in the loop. This is not by the water either.
This is the primitive camping in Bullfrog. It’s the only camping option that is right by the water that you can drive to. It’s about $12 a night I think and just a big open space with a few bathrooms scattered around. There is no shade or amenities here, really.
This isn’t in Bullfrog, but 20-30 minutes away in the Henry Mountains. This is also $26 a night (I think, I could be wrong) and is forst-come, first-served. This is a great option if you want to escape the desert heat but still want to be close. There are bathrooms but no showers.
If you want to do some free camping, you can stay on the BLM land along Highway 276 or Burr Trail. Just make sure you’re not in Glen Canyon NRA or Capitol Reef NP. Just remember to pack out what you pack in. (That goes for camping anywhere, really.)
Restaurants in Bullfrog Marina
Food options are quite slim in Bullfrog Marina, and by quite slim, I mean there is one option in Bullfrog, one in Ticaboo (sometimes two if the restaurant at Ticaboo Reesort is open), and a snack bar at Halls Crossing, but you have to boat to that.
This is the restaurant in Bullfrog Marina attached to the lodge. It’s not super fine dining, but it’s more fine than Offshore, if that makes sense. They are usually open for breakfast lunch, and dinner, but close for a few hours between lunch and dinner, so keep that in mind when you go. Prices are pretty average compared to chain sit-down restaurants. It’s the only option in Bullfrog.
This is about ten-fifteen minutes from Bullfrog Marina. It’s in the Sinclair gas station where all of the houseboats are parked. If you didn’t take the ferry over from Halls Crossing, you would have passed it on your way in. From Bullfrog it will be on the right when you’re going. They have pizza, burgers, sandwiches, stuff like that. It’s a good option that’s usually pretty quick. It’s by Ticaboo.
What to bring to Bullfrog Marina
Hiking poles – These will be helpful on longer hikes that are on the steeper side. They’ll be good if you have bad knees for when you’re going downhill and will give you something to lean on going up the hills.
Snacks – These are more important for long hikes, but you never know when you’ll get hungry! I like EPIC bars (kind of like beef jerky but different), Sahale nut mix things, and Moon Cheese. There’s always the good old Clif Bars and trail mix, too.
Light Jacket – Because you just never know. Weather can change quickly depending on where you are and if you’ll be in any slot canyons, they can get cool depending on the time of day and season. I usually use my rain jacket for this.
Sleeping pad – Gotta make the tent comfy! The one I have isn’t available anymore but this one is similar. It’s self-inflating and just needs a little help filling all the way. Buy the sleeping pad here.
Pillow – If you’re just driving, I’d just bring a regular pillow, but if you’re flying then renting a car, you might want a smaller pillow. This is a good non-inflatible option. Here is a good inflatable option.
Lantern – I love having a lantern for in the tent at night, reading in the dark, or going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. The LuminAID is my favorite and you can charge your phone on it. Buy the LuminAID lantern here.
Tips for visiting Bullfrog Marina
- If you’re camping or going out on a houseboat, bring pretty much everything you need. The closest towns are hours away. Literally. Grand Junction (the grocery store worth going to) is 3-3.5 hours, Moab is 2.5 hours, Blanding and Green River are 2, and Hanksville is 1. Stores in all but Grand Junction are small and there’s usually only one.
- If you want to stay in the lodge on a weekend in the summer, definitely book ahead because it’s full most weekends. Especially holidays. Weekdays are hit or miss, but usually open.
- If you’re debating between North Lake Powell and South Lake Powell, the north is way prettier (fight me) but the south is way closer to town, like ten minutes instead of three hours.
- Definitely get gas before coming here. It’s (obviously) super far from everything and gas in Bullfrog is SO expensive.
- If you’re planning on taking the ferry, call ahead to check if it’s running! And if you can’t call, pay attention to the signs at the turnoff for Highway 276, whichever side you’re coming from.
Hopefully this has either inspired you to visit or helped you plan your trip there. It may be a place not many road trippers go, but if you like hiking, boating, or kayaking, this would be a great stop for you.
Have you been to Bullfrog? What did you think of it? What is your favorite thing to do there?