Henry Mountains, Utah
Explore a wild range in the heart of canyon country.
Bison in the Utah desert? Yep, you’ll find one of the largest free-roaming herds in North America grazing the Henry Mountains, which rise as much as 7,000 feet above the scrubby desert south of Hanksville. Though the Henrys are in plain view from Canyonlands, Lake Powell, and Capitol Reef, isolation and rough roads (4WD is recommended) radically limit visitor numbers. The 11,522-foot north summit of Mt. Ellen, high point of the range, is only about 2.7 miles north of the dirt road at Bull Creek Pass. (Find the access road to the 10,485-foot pass 21 miles south of Hanksville on UT 95.)
Best plan: Pack water and camp on the broad ridge below Mt. Ellen’s summit to watch the sun set over Waterpocket Fold and the wilds of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument; to the east, alpenglow will linger on the La Sals near Moab and the distant San Juans in Colorado. The next day, explore 11,371-foot Mt. Pennell, which has spectacular diorite formations that draw rock climbers, or 10,722-foot Mt. Hillers, whose flanks are decorated with towering sandstone fins.