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La Sal Mountains: Horse Mountain & Grand View

Friday & Saturday, July 9-10, 2021

This weekend I was finally going to my first concert in over a year on Saturday evening so I needed to stay close to home, but I still hoped to squeeze in a hike to the summit of a peak or two on Saturday morning. Since the Pack Creek Fire near Moab was finally contained and the La Sal Mountains were opening back up, I thought this would be a good time for me to head that direction for a quick overnight trip. When I left from work on Friday afternoon it was a blistering 106 degrees out and I would later find out that Grand Junction had set the all-time high temperature record of 107 degrees while I was driving into Utah. The thermometer on my Jeep registered 112 degrees as I passed by the Fisher Towers– it’s certainly been a hot week on the Colorado Plateau! After driving through Castle Valley to the La Sal Mountains Loop Road I followed the narrow and bumpy road up into Miners Basin and spent the rest of the evening around the small lake near the trailhead. It was still a bit warm up in Miners Basin when I arrived, but it cooled off nicely as the sun went down for the night.

A view of Mineral Mountain from the Miners Basin Trail.

Mineral Mountain

Gold Knob in the warm evening light.

Gold Knob Evening

This little lake in Miners Basin was the lowest I have ever seen it at this time of the year, but there were still a lot of fish jumping around just before sunset.

Miners Basin Evening

Scarlet Skyrocket

Little Flowers

A late evening view of Mineral Mountain.

Mineral Mountain Evening

From the other end of the lake I could see the top of Castle Mountain.

Castle Mountain Top

Miners Basin Sunset

Miners Basin Sunset

Once it was dark out I read for a little bit and then went to bed early. On Saturday morning I was up shortly before sunrise and started hiking up the Bachelor Basin Trail as the sun was coming up for the day. This trail, which is part of the Trans-La Sal Trail, was pretty overgrown with a bunch of deadfall across the trail and it appears that it does not get used very much.

Starting up the Bachelor Basin Trail.

Bachelor Basin Trail Sign

As I climbed up above the trees and got my first view over to Gold Knob, I could tell that there was a lot of smoke in the air this morning. It feels like every time I hike in the La Sal Mountains there is a lot of smoke and haze in the air…

Gold Knob

Looking down the canyon I could see the Moab Rim through the smoke in the distance.

Moab Rim View

As soon as I started climbing up the ridge to Horse Mountain I was startled by this mountain goat that was running down the ridge toward me and didn’t see me right away. If you look closely you can see that this mountain goat has some sort of radio collar around its neck.

Tagged Mountain Goat

When I reached a clearing on the ridge I turned around for this view of Castle Mountain, Mount Waas and Mineral Mountain.

Castle, Waas & Mineral

I passed by this post on the ridge- most likely marking an old mining claim.

Post

As I followed the ridge to the summit of Horse Mountain I turned around for another look at the La Sal Mountains, and this time I could see Mount Mellenthin and Mount Tukuhnikivatz.

La Sal Mountains

The view above the smoke from the summit of Horse Mountain.

Horse Mountain Summit

I continued down the ridge on the other side of the summit so I could make my way over to Grand View, which is the bump on the ridge in the middle.

Ridge to Grand View

A smoky view over Bachelor Basin and Willow Basin.

Smoky View

As I walked along the ridge I had a good view of the Porcupine Rim far below.

Porcupine Rim

Here’s a closer look with the desert landscape disappearing into the thick smoke.

Into The Smoke

The view from the summit of Grand View wasn’t quite as ‘grand’ as I was hoping it would be…

Grand View Summit

Following the rocky ridge back to Horse Mountain.

Back Over Horse Mountain

Here’s one last look back over Grand View and Porcupine Rim. The sky above the layer of smoke was pretty blue.

Rocky Ridge

Hiking back down the ridge from Horse Mountain.

Horse Mountain Ridge

There were plenty of wildflowers to visit along the way.

Details

Following the faint Bachelor Basin Trail back down to the trailhead in Miners Basin.

Bachelor Basin Trail

The hike had taken me a little bit longer than I was anticipating, but I still had plenty of time to drive home and rest for a few hours before heading out to the concert in the evening. Even with all the smoke in the air, I still had another nice time in the La Sal Mountains!

>> Horse Mountain & Grand View Photo Gallery

One Comment

  1. Donnette Reeves
    Donnette Reeves July 20, 2021

    Thank you for your posts, I thoroughly enjoy each one!

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