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Camping: Notch Peak

The Notch Peak area presents many opportunities to camp in solitude. The West Desert is one of the most vacant areas you’ll see in Utah. You’ll be lucky to see one or two cars all day. Because of this remoteness you better be sure and be prepared. I found this out for myself this past weekend.

Painter SpringsWe’ve camped at Painter Springs many times, the trail up is a bit tough but nothing my Tacoma has ever had a problem with. Last weekend we pulled up to the beginning of the difficulties in getting to Painter Springs, there was another family parked getting ready to hike up. What is normally a small ditch was now a running stream, I decided to give it a go anyways. I made it into the arroyo and immediately became stuck, I was teetering between two opposite wheels. After 15 minutes of digging and rock placing we still could not get my truck to move an inch. The father of the other family proceeded to his vehicle and brought out a tow-strap, chain, and come-along. After a few minutes of set-up and ratcheting, my truck was free of its quagmire. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to this family, if not for them I’m not sure how far we would have been walking.

The moral of the proceeding story is to be prepared. There are many things in the desert that can waylay you, try and be prepared for as many as possible.

Ok, on to the camping. Like I said there are many places to camp. But, please clean up after yourselves. I was quite disappointed this weekend to see the evidence of prior campers in many areas. The desert really isn’t that tough of an environment, what we leave out there stays for many years. I’m half tempted to not divulge any information on where to camp in fear of it being overrun with idiots leaving garbage and what not. My biggest pet peeve? Human waste, please either dig a hole and carry out/burn your toilet paper, or, ideally carry a portable toilet. Having your children play around a campsite while turds lay about isn’t my idea of solitude, nor cleanliness. To reiterate, please clean up after yourselves.

Ok, enough of my lectures.

Painter SpringsThe best spot to camp around Notch Peak is Painter Springs. This area is like an oasis in the desert. A sea of granite rises from the Northwestern flank of Notch Peak, a natural spring provides the moisture necessary to support the lush growth of vegetation. Being on the Western side of the range you won’t be awoken by the harsh reality of a desert sun. To access Painter Springs drive 54.2 miles from the bridge on the West side of Delta. Make a right onto an unmarked dirt road, drive 9 miles and you will come to a crossroads. There will be a sign pointing to Painter Springs on the right, drive up that trail until you become uncomfortable. Normally any stock 4-wheel drive vehicle should be able to get to the end of the trail. This year it is a bit different, a small arroyo blocks the way and necessitates hiking to the campsite. Even if you had to hike this is still a very worthwhile place to camp, trees, large boulders and plenty of vegetation provide shade. If you want to car camp and don’t feel like braving the trail all the way to Painter Springs there is a slight track off to the right before you get to the difficulties. This track leads off to a decent place to camp, not quite Painter Springs, but nice in it’s own way.

The next best place to camp is located in a small box canyon located part way up Marjum PassMarjum Pass. A small spur road leads off to the North of the pass road. Follow this road up a bit and a rather flattish area will be reached, there are a couple of homemade fire pits and evidence of previous campers. This area is rather interesting in that it is also the home to the “Hermit’s Cabin.” This Camp Sitescabin is a stone structure built into a cliffside rather Anasazi style. The cabin features a stone wall, woodburning stove, and several benches. It is quite obvious many people have camped here, please make sure it isn’t obvious if you do.

There are several places to camp on the Eastern edge of Marjum Pass as well. Keep your eye out for spur trails, use a bit of exploring technique to find your own hidden campsite. One benefit of camping on the Eastern side of Marjum pass is that you are close to some good Trilobite hunting grounds. You can camp and walk to an area to unearth the shale layers.

There are also several places people commonly camp near the trailhead for the Notch Peak hike. Drive 39.7 miles from Delta to an unmarked dirt road, make a right here. Follow the dirt road out 3.3 miles when you will see a sign pointing towards Miller Canyon. If you drive down this road you will see the various places people have camped, please use one of them instead of making your own campsite.

Nearby Areas:

Pony Express

Mineral Mountains






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