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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…
mineralmountains001.jpg (71412 bytes)
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.

To 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 signmineralmountains002.jpg (52522 bytes) 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

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 mineralmountains004.jpg (76388 bytes) 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.

Hiking

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.

Camping

The Rock Corral area is a fine place to camp. Although be prepared to have some locals camping next to you. mineralmountains003.jpg (55936 bytes) 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 trampled vegetation.

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!  

Please see editor's note below:

I 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 McMann

"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.
"

Nedra Kennedy
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.

Climbing

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 cooler weather?

Overall

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 finding shade.

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 beaten pathÖ

Nearby Areas:

Pony Express

Notch Peak

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Utah Camping: The Complete Guide to more than 400 Campgrounds (Foghorn Outdoors)

by Tom Wharton, Gayen Wharton

Utah's National Parks: Hiking, Camping, and Vacationing in Utah's Canyon Country: Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands

Utah Camping: The Complete Guide to more than 400 Campgrounds (Foghorn Outdoors)

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