Category Archives: Hiking

West Dez

In late October I spent a couple of days in Utah’s West Desert. My main reason for going there was to hike Notch Peak with a friend on Friday, but I headed out solo on Wednesday evening and camped that night, then spent all day Thursday exploring. I’d collected info from various blog and forum posts, as well as geocaches, and had a very full day planned. I had hoped to make it to the Tule Valley Hardpan for Wednesday’s sunset but I got too late a start. The last sunlight touched the mountaintops while I was near Lynndyl. One mountain in particular was quite photogenic, and it wasn’t until after I returned home that I realized it was Fool Creek Peak, which I’d hiked two years earlier. I camped near the Tule Valley Hardpan and read for a couple of hours before going to bed.

Fool Creek Peak and some ravens, from near Lynndyl
Fool Creek Peak and some ravens, from near Lynndyl

Pink clouds over the Cricket Mountains
Pink clouds over the Cricket Mountains

5-second exposure on US-6
5-second exposure on US-6

Jeep on the Tule Valley Hardpan
Jeep on the Tule Valley Hardpan

Night selfie at my camp spot
Night selfie at my camp spot

I woke up early on Thursday and drove onto the Tule Valley Hardpan, then climbed atop the “island” in the middle of the playa to watch sunrise. After some more driving around on the playa (which was a lot of fun!), I drove to the south end of the Confusion Range to search for some pictographs near Painted Potholes. I didn’t know exactly where the rock art was, and it took me about 20 minutes to find it. The pictographs weren’t all that great, but it was nice finding some rock art in a new area and in a different style than I’m used to seeing. My next stop was at Ibex, where a sheepherder named Jack Watson tried to eke out a living beginning in the late 1800s. All that’s left are some concrete and stone dams, as well as some rock art that by far predates the white settlement.

On top of the island in the Tule Valley Hardpan at dawn
On top of the island in the Tule Valley Hardpan at dawn

Moon over the Barn Hills
Moon over the Barn Hills

View north toward Notch Peak
View north toward Notch Peak

Jeep on the Tule Valley Hardpan
Jeep on the Tule Valley Hardpan

Sunlight striking the Barn Hills
Sunlight striking the Barn Hills

My shadow
My shadow

Don’t boss me!
Don't boss me!

Painted Rock Mountain
Painted Rock Mountain

Crack containing some pictographs
Crack containing some pictographs

Faded pictograph panel
Faded pictograph panel

Faded pictograph panel (DStretch enhanced)
Faded pictograph panel (DStretch enhanced)

The largest and most clear pictograph
The largest and most clear pictograph

Faded pictographs
Faded pictographs

Faded pictographs (DStretch enhanced)
Faded pictographs (DStretch enhanced)

Natural arch near the rock art
Natural arch near the rock art

1929 inscription near the Snake Pass Road
1929 inscription near the Snake Pass Road

Faded 1914 inscription near the Snake Pass Road
Faded 1914 inscription near the Snake Pass Road

One of several small dams at Ibex
One of several small dams at Ibex

Ibex geocache
Ibex geocache

My friend Chris’ log from 15 years earlier in the geocache
My friend Chris' log from 15 years earlier in the geocache

Small dam near some rock art
Small dam near some rock art

Petroglyphs on a ledge
Petroglyphs on a ledge

A bug of some sort?
A bug of some sort?

Human figures and fingerprints
Human figures and fingerprints

Almost Barrier Canyon Style-looking figures
Almost Barrier Canyon Style-looking figures

Lone pictograph
Lone pictograph

Larger dam at Ibex
Larger dam at Ibex

I left Ibex heading north and, after stopping briefly for lunch, crossed over to the north side of US-6. I visited a very large and impressive sinkhole–my entire house would fit inside with plenty of room to spare. I continued north, checking out the northern end of the House Range and Swasey Mountain. I spent quite a while walking around the Antelope Spring Civilian Conservation Corps camp, where many building foundations still remain. Just below Swasey Peak, I stopped at an overlook between Sinbad and Trail canyons that had a nice view west into Nevada. From the overlook, an amazing trail drops through the cliffs to the west. It appears to partially follow a natural crack in the cliffs, but part of it was blasted out, and logs and rock fill has been added. I didn’t have time to follow the trail, but it’s on my to-do list for the future.

Notch Peak viewed from the north end of the Barn Hills
Notch Peak viewed from the north end of the Barn Hills

West Desert Sinkhole
West Desert Sinkhole

Ladder inside the sinkhole
Ladder inside the sinkhole

West Desert Sinkhole
West Desert Sinkhole

My shadow on the far side of the sinkhole
My shadow on the far side of the sinkhole

Reflection on Sevier Lake
Reflection on Sevier Lake

Wild horses near Antelope Spring Reservoir
Wild horses near Antelope Spring Reservoir

Wild horses near Antelope Spring Reservoir
Wild horses near Antelope Spring Reservoir

Rock wall at the Antelope Spring CCC Camp
Rock wall at the Antelope Spring CCC Camp

Inscription by a CCC enrolee: July 14, 1936, Jimmie Gissom, Columbia, KY
Inscription by a CCC enrolee:  July 14, 1936, Jimmie Gissom, Columbia, KY

Can dump
Can dump

Remains of a concrete building
Remains of a concrete building

Rock walls
Rock walls

A.W. initials in the mortar
A.W. initials in the mortar

Handprint in the mortar
Handprint in the mortar

Concrete floor
Concrete floor

Vehicular dust clouds in the desert
Vehicular dust clouds in the desert

View across Tule Valley into Nevada from Swasey Mountain
View across Tule Valley into Nevada from Swasey Mountain

Crazy trail blasted into the cliff
Crazy trail blasted into the cliff

Closeup of the trail
Closeup of the trail

I was running low on fuel–I’d driven well over 250 miles in the West Desert–so I headed back to the highway and into Delta to fill the tank in the Jeep. Then I headed toward the Notch Peak trailhead and found a spot to camp at Miller Cove and settled in for the night. The next morning I would meet my friend, Jim, for the hike to the summit of Notch Peak.

View toward Delta from Miller Cove
View toward Delta from Miller Cove

Full moon rising above Delta
Full moon rising above Delta


Photo Gallery: West Dez