Camping: Mineral Mountains
Last weekend we visited the Mineral Mountain range in Southern Utah. This was one of the most spectacular places in Utah I have seen. Granite Peak is the main focus of the mountain range. This is a mountain of granite, an oasis of white in a desert of red sandstone. Traveling through sandstone country this mountain and its flanks assault the senses with a castle-like presence on the landscape…
The Mineral Mountain range is located outside of Milford Utah. To access this area take I-15 to the Beaver exit (no, I’m not kidding, this is the name of the town). Follow the signs to Highway 21, although Highway 21 is not exactly a highway. Follow the two lane road to the town of Milford. There are two accesses into the park from Milford, one before the town and one after the town.
get to the Southern section of the area turn at the ďRock
Corral Picnic AreaĒ sign, this is located before the town of
Milford. The other entrance is located after you pass through
the town, at the outskirts of Milford you will see a sign
pointing to the geo-thermal power plant. This road leads to a
geo-thermal power plant, at the crossroads of the plant turn off
and make a right. This road leads into Ranch Canyon.
Ranch Canyon is a canyon which snakes its way in between Granite
Mountain and the two volcanoes known as North and South Twin
Flat Mtns. North and South Twin Flat Mountains are extinct
volcanoes and have a very different look than Granite Mountain.
Some novel places to visit in this area are the Geo-Thermal
plant and hot springs located further down the road into the
range, rockhounds will find themselves at home here. A friend of
mine has a girlfriend who likes to collect crystals and other
interesting minerals, this area lends itself to that kind of
hobby quite nicely.
Big Rock Corral
This area is located amongst the fantastic formations that
entail this little enclave of Granite. The Big Rock Corral
picnic area is one of the nicest picnic/camping areas I have
seen. There are picnic tables and fire pits located in the shade
of the trees, others are covered by corrugated aluminum shelters
to keep the baking sun at bay. Donít get me wrong this is a
very small area, but it is very clean and well taken care of.
This area had piles of wood at all the fire pits! Split and
stacked wood is a luxury I had never seen at a free campground.
The hike to Granite Peak is accessed by several different areas.
The best area to begin the attempted hike is on the end of the
road leading towards the South Twin mountain. The hiking in this
area isnít on established trails, quite often the cattle
trails are the only thing protecting you from full scale
bushwhacking. Granite peak is 9578 feet tall, be prepared for
some altitude gain getting to the top. We turned back in the
brunt of a full scale summer sun.
There are numerous places to hike around in this area. Cattle
trails lead all over the place, you can hike amongst the rock
formations from numerous pull offs. There are good and bad
points of cattle grazing on public land. They leave us trails to
follow rather than bushwhack. They also leave us other less
desirable gifts, cow flops donít go away in these type of
places. The desert environment doesnít lend itself well to
breakdown of animal excrements. Eventually you just donít care
anymore, you just step on them as if they arenít there.
The Rock Corral area is a fine place to camp. Although be
prepared to have some locals camping next to you. It is better
to get out on one of the two-tracks and find your own little
area. We found a perfect site on a two-track heading out to
several rock formations. If you go here please try and find an
area that has been camped in before, if you look around you can
find them. This is a rather solitary place unknown to most
people. This area doesnít need another homemade fire pit and
I canít recommend the ďBig Rock Picnic AreaĒ at all. We
stopped there to check the place out. As opposed to the pristine
well-kept almost secret feel of the rest of the area, this was
quite the opposite. Iíve never been to a picnic area in Utah
this bad. My child got out of the passenger side of the truck
into a pile of glass. Broken beer bottles and the remnants of
campers with no respect for the land were everywhere. DO NOT
STOP HERE, keep driving!
see editor's note below:
received this email recently, and it appears the Big
Rock Picnic Area has been cleaned up. I look
forward to visiting it again this summer. - Bob
"I was just reviewing your web site on the Mineral
Mountain east of Milford. Thanks for your
wonderful article, we are really proud that they exist
for our enjoyment. I really enjoyed reading about
your experiences. I am the city manager for
Milford and was quite concerned that you found the Big
Rock Picnic area in such a mess. After reading the
article I sent our city crews to the area who
cleaned up glass, hauled trash and will also in
the near future will work on the benches.
Hopefully, we can keep the area clean so it doesn't
get bad press and you will again visit the area but with
better results. We regret you found the area in
such a bad state. It seems like people do not like
to take responsibility for picking up after themselves.
Thanks again, we look forward to you coming to Milford.
Milford City Manager
Milford is located nearby and has a grocery store and
convenience store. They do sell beer here on Sundays, I had
forgotten about this little quirk of Utah life. Once down here I
was worried my campsite would be devoid of a major staple. Many
counties in Southern Utah donít sell alcohol on Sundays. But
to my delight I found them more than willing to sell me beer.
I must also mention, be very careful of any campfires in this
area. A fire swept through here in 1996, this killed most of the
small trees in the area. These trees remain everywhere, and
combined with the dry nature of the area, are a major fire
waiting to happen. The wind gets a run in on these mountains, be
careful, your small little fire could become dangerous.
This area is a climbers dream! As we were pulling up to the
range all I could think of was City of Rocks. This area is like
the City of Rocks ten or twenty years ago. There are numerous
granite domes, fins and spires.
It was way too hot to climb so we walked around looking at
routes. Obviously people have been busy down here. There are a
lot of slabby bolted routes. The rock here is somewhat granular
and needs more traffic to clean the routes up.
If you ever want to do a first ascent in a place that hasnít
been fully discovered yet, this is the place to go! The
possibility of climbs here seems almost limitless. There
doesnít seem to be a lot of crack climbing going on here, most
of the routes seem to be up blank faces. Donít expect anything
like Indian Creek here, this seems to be primarily a sport
climbing area so far. Many of the cracks here are flaring seams,
many of the cracks we scoped ended up this way. They wait for a
better man than I to lead, although who knows with a little
This is truly one of the fantastic undiscovered places in Utah!
If you want astounding views and solitude it is worth exploring
Utahís west desert. Stay away from here in the summertime, the
relentless heat will dampen your enthusiasm for anything but
I hope by posting reviews on the undiscovered places Iíll
distribute people from the National Park mayhem. Donít get me
wrong, I love all of Utahís parks, but like the solitude from
the tourists also. Come experience the serenity, explore off the
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