Exploring the uncharted territory of the Henry Mountain Range
Standing majestically in south-central Utah, the Henry Mountains encompass nearly 2 million acres of remote, public land. The mountain range extends from the north shore of Lake Powell to the peak of Mt. Ellen, rising in elevation from 3,700 feet to more than 11,600 feet. With recreational opportunities such as hiking, camping, sightseeing, off-roading, wildlife viewing and hunting, the Henry Mountains are a great destination for an enjoyable outdoor adventure.
Perhaps one of the most notable features of this rugged backcountry is its isolation. If you plan to traverse the Henry Mountains, come prepared with supplies, water, food and a reliable vehicle. With the exception of certain areas traveled by miners and a few ranchers, the Henry Mountains are largely unexplored. The terrain is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), but you will rarely see patrolling officials or other explorers in the area. The most common forms of life found in the Henry Mountains are various types of wildlife.
A herd of more than 200 bison roam the mountain range freely, spending time on the lower benches during the winter months and wandering the south side of Mt. Ellen during the summer months. The herd was introduced from Yellowstone National Park in 1941. Each year, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources issues around 44 permits to hunt the area’s bison—an extremely rare opportunity in the contiguous United States.
In addition to buffalo, the Henry Mountains are home to numerous other kinds of wildlife. Mule deer, antelope, mountain lions, jackrabbits, rattlesnakes and a large variety of birds are known to dwell in the area. While you may not catch a glimpse of these animals during your visit, deer and birds are often seen from McMillan Spring Campground, Lonesome Beaver Campground and The Horn.
Effective sightseeing can also be accomplished by taking any of the roads and highways in the area. The majority of the area’s roads are dirt or gravel, so be sure to check with the BLM office in Hanksville for information regarding road conditions. Scenic routes worth mentioning are:
- Bull Creek Pass: A 68-mile loop that wraps through the Henry Mountains. The road has several short hiking trails that provide opportunities to explore the virtually untouched landscape.
- Stanton Pass: A scenic pass that links Bull Creek Pass and Clay Point Road. The trail provides great views of the beautiful backcountry.
- Pennellen Pass: A pass between Mt. Ellen and Mt. Pennell, two of the area’s most well-known peaks.
Popular hikes in the Henry Mountains include the 4-mile trail from the Lonesome Beaver Campground to a ridge on Mt. Ellen and the 4-mile trail from Bull Creek Pass to the peak of Mt. Ellen. These trails offer beautiful views of the desert floor and neighboring peaks. Other enjoyable hikes include:
- Little Rockies: Two peaks in the Henry Mountains (Mt. Holmes and Mt. Ellsworth) that are separated from the rest of the range by a plateau.
- Dirty Devil canyons: Slot canyons along the Dirty Devil River. The most notable of these trails is Happy Canyon.
- South Caineville Mesa: A 2.8-mile trail that rises to the top of a mesa. Views from the mesa provide stunning sights of the Boulder Mountains, Thousand Lakes Mountain, Factory Butte and the Henry Mountains.
The area also features unique destinations that you will definitely want to check out. These include:
- Pink Cliffs of the Grand Staircase: Several layers of pink sandstone that have been pushed vertical.
- Waterpocket Fold: A wrinkle in the earth’s surface that cuts along the Henry Mountains for almost 100 miles.
- Little Egypt: A section of land known for its various sphinx-shaped rocks.
Adventure awaits you
Between wildlife viewing, scenic drives, hiking and unique features, the Henry Mountains are an ideal location for recreational activities. Better yet, you will have the rare opportunity of enjoying the great outdoors in a remote setting. Isolation is an experience that can be difficult to find, which is one aspect that makes the Henry Mountains so distinctive from other destinations.
No matter what time of year it is, the area is ready to satisfy your demands for adventure. Plan a journey today and explore the uncharted territory of the Henry Mountains.