Mount Ellen: Henry Mountains High Point

When I realized that I had the whole Labor Day Weekend to go out exploring with Sprocket, I decided it was high time to go check out Utah’s Henry Mountains. I’d been past them before but since it was early spring, the roads up into the mountains themselves were too muddy down low with snow gracing the higher peaks. The Henrys are rarely explored despite the fact that the highpoint, Mount Ellen, stands 11,522′ high giving it more than 5,000′ of prominence. The summit is also the high point of Utah’s Garfield County.

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Camp

As is usual, I had a hard time gauging just how rough the road to Bull Creek Pass actually was going to be. It can be difficult to tell just what people expect road conditions to be. As it turned out, it was rough but nothing that ever required me to use 4-wheel drive. On the way down, I did avail myself of low range since it was pretty steep.

Wikiup Pass

Bull Creek Pass

From the saddle at Bull Creek Pass, we made our way up through the wind pretty quickly. It looked as if a fairly major rainstorm might be approaching from the west but it wasn’t moving very fast and seemed to only be rain (no thunder or lightning).

View to Mount Ellen Peak from Mount Ellen Summit

Our views were way more expansive than my iPhone camera can show you. We could see all of the myriad canyons around us plus the Abajos and the La Sals in the distance. I was a bit disappointed that it was slightly hazy; I would have loved to glimpse my home San Juans from this distance!

Ellen Ridge

The trail petered out when we reached the ridge and made for kind of slow going through the large rocks. Sprocket hates this sort of hiking. We lingered on the peak for just a few minutes before heading back down to the Jeep. The clouds continued to appear to not be moving quickly but the wind was still whipping across the ridge from the west.

Typical Summit shot

Almost back at the Jeep, I was shocked at how powerful the gusts were! There as a bit of rain in the wind and it stung my cheeks and the wind pushed me continually off trail as we jogged back to Ruth as fast as was prudent.

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As I stood on the summit, I felt a weird feeling: I just wanted to go explore the canyons at my feet instead of climbing more peaks in the range. Perhaps it was the vagabond traveler in me but I felt the call of exploring pulling me back out of their remote clutches and back on the move.

Lake Powell To Hanksville

We spent the night along the “shores” of Lake Powell at the Hite campground. We couldn’t believe how low the water level in the lake was! Since Sprocket is the spoiled puppy child, we still found him some access to the water—and access to lots of mud. He was one happy dog!

Since the lake level was so low, we decided to head away from the lake. Alongside the road, was a camping area at the mouths of the Irish Canyons, a canyoneering area. We’re not canyoneers (although we’d love to try canyoneering!) but we spent some time scrambling around.

Irish Canyons

Sprocket provided us some awesome entertainment as he tried to turn around within a narrow spot in the rocks. He’s such a good natured dog to provide us such awesome entertainment:

Irish Canyons, stuck dog

Irish Canyons, stuck puppy

Irish canyons, stuck puppy.

Although we’ve gotten glimpses from the Henry Mountains from the Moab area for years, we’ve never driven past their base. They’re such pretty mountains! The wet, muddy roads combined with the low snow level prevented us from exploring them. We’ll have to go back to this area sometime soon, there’s lots of exploring to be done!

Henry Mountains