A Day In The Henry Mountains

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Since the Henry Mountains are practically in my backyard, I figured it was time to explore them.  I made one whole trip there last year and that was just to Star Springs Campground.  This time we ended up driving almost all of Hillers Loop around Mount Hillers.  As an introduction to the Henry’s, it.  Was.  Awesome.  Mountain views all around.  Desert views all around.  Snow.  Creeks.  An old mine.  Seriously cool.

Henry Mountain Fact: Mount Ellen is the highest peak in the range at 11,522 feet above sea level.

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We started at Starr Springs with the intention of looking for cool rocks.  Instead we spent seven hours driving around Mount Hillers.  Oops.  The road wasn’t as bad as I was anticipating, but we still had to drive really slow as it was gravel and rock with a few uneven parts and basically a cliff to the left.  You know, the usual for back roads out here.

This is also where we came to a literal fork in the road as you can see above.  We stopped for our pictures and I kept thinking of horror movie scenarios.  Were driving along the road and turn, going right over the fork and blowing a tire only to be hunted down by crazy mountain men.  SPOILER ALERT: it didn’t happen.

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We continued on and ended up at the fork to go towards Burr Trail or around on Hillers Loop.  It was decision time and we took the more adventurous way as we didn’t know where we would end up.  We took the Hillers Loop and had no idea how long it would take to get anywhere.

Turns out it takes roughly 5 hours, give or take.  That is, from Starr Springs back to 276 on our way to Hanksville.  I think the fastest we went was like, 25 the whole time.  The road isn’t horrible, but it’s a little rocky and uneven.

Henry Mountain fact: the bison herd was created in 1941 when 18 were moved from Yellowstone and released near the Dirty Devil River by Hanksville.

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I have no idea how long, mile wise, this little trip was, but I do know that it was super pretty.  We came across some old mining stuff and took a little break there.  It was pretty cool to see all this old equipment just there, but it was a little creepy at the same time.  There was one thing that was hollow and just totally dark.  I kept trying to look in it, but got nervous after a while.  I have no idea what it was or how far back it went.  Safe to say, I wasn’t too set on checking it out to much.

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There were so many places along this road that we said this would be the perfect camping spot, it’s crazy.  And they were all really awesome camp spots, just really far away from, well, everything.  The weather up in the mountains was perfect, not too hot, not too cool, and is the perfect getaway from the heat of the desert you look down on from the top.  And really, we weren’t even close to the top, but it sure felt like it.  Looking up at the mountains from Burr, it’s crazy.  We weren’t even halfway to the top of Hillers and it looked so high!

Henry Mountain fact: this was the last mountain range added to the map of the lower 48 states.

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We didn’t really get out to do any hiking, but we obviously made some stops for pictures.  There is tons of exploring to be done in the Henry Mountains and this was just a little taste of it.  On our way down the other side of Hillers we came across a river, not just a little creek, but an actual river, which really had the perfect camping spot near it, even if it would be a little hotter.  This was an awesome first adventure of the summer, a little late here, I know.  I will definitely be back up to see more of them before I leave this fall.

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Tips for visiting the Henry Mountains:

  • Think about where you want to go before you get up there and get an idea of the roads before you actually head up.
  • If you have Verizon, you might get service in some areas.
  • Four wheel drive is necessary once you get higher up.  It’s not to get to Starr Springs, but after that, yes.
  • A high clearance vehicle isn’t totally necessary, but high(ish) would definitely help.
  • If you plan on doing a lot of exploring, pick up the Henry Mountains and Robbers Roost Guidebook.
  • Open up Google Maps before you get to areas without service.  It can help with navigating.
  • There are signs up in the mountains at intersections (usually) telling you what is which way and some spots even have signs with miles to certain destinations.
  • As always, let someone know where you plan on going, just in case.
  • This is where one of the three wild bison herds is in the US, but they can be tough to find.  Like all wildlife, keep your distance and give them space if you’re lucky enough to spot them.

Have you been to the Henry Mountains?  What is your favorite place in them?  Do you want to go?

 

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