Saturday, May 30, 2020

Quick Trip to Crystal Peak, Millard County

With distant trips cancelled, it was time to head to nearby attractions. One of my favorite places to go when the weather is mild is Crystal Peak, a whitish mountain made of volcanic tuff. In the afternoon light it glows when approaching from Snake Valley, but on this particular day, we were heading there in the morning, and it didn't look that impressive as we approached it.

 As we got closer we saw a sign indicating that the peak is in part of the Wah Wah Wilderness Study Area. Wah Wah means "good, clean water" according to Utah Place Names. A Wilderness Study Area (WSA) is an area that is wild, uninhabited, retains primeval characteristics, is a roadless area of at least 5,000 acres, and has opportunities for solitude and/or primitive recreation. WSAs are managed as wilderness areas (no motorized vehicles allowed, generally no development allowed) until Congress decides to designate the area as wilderness or not.

Desert Boy had been to the top of Crystal Peak before (see this 2014 trip), but Desert Girl hadn't.  We parked on the northeast side, just off the road in a little campsite. No other vehicles were visible. We hiked slightly towards the peak, but mostly south.

Although it's easiest to stay on the Kanosh Shale that borders the south side of the Tunnel Springs Tuff, we couldn't resist a little scrambling. The strange-looking pockets are called tafoni.

There are thousands of them on the mountain.

 We headed up the Kanosh shale, going around juniper trees until we reached a large rock cairn. Then it was time to head north.

In hindsight, we should have tied up the dogs at this spot, as they would have had shade, and it got a lot steeper after this point.

We needed to follow the ravine and then veer a bit to the right to make the summit. There are many false summits on this mountain, and I've been to more than one!

The kids did a good job hiking fast. 

The dogs made us laugh at times!

Here's the view looking south. You can see the little ridge where the tuff meets the Kanosh shale. In the background are the Wah Wah Mountains.

Looking to the west, we could see the snow-capped peaks of the Snake Range just peeking above the horizon.

We had a little detour, but then we made it! Hurray!

 Looking north from the peak you see the Crystal Peak Road. On the other side is the mountain range that contains Fossil Mountain.

Next it was time to get down. This isn't a good place to go if you're afraid of heights!

Desert Girl is quite interested in geology and found some fossils.

Many of the fossils in the Kanosh Shale are broken as it was a windy beach area as sea creatures accumulated, but there are still interesting things to find.

We made it back to the vehicle and didn't dally, as Desert Girl had something to attend. 

Except I did have to pause to take some photos of pronghorn. They are such cool desert creatures that I will be doing a post all about them soon.

The cloud pattern on Wheeler Peak and adjoining Doso Doyabi Peak was really cool.

And then we saw lambs! They were so cute!


This area is used for winter sheep grazing. In the summer they head to Park City, UT.

For more on the geology of Crystal Peak, and how it formed in a giant explosion 33 million years ago, was covered up, and then eroded away (plus how it will disappear in a million years), see this cool GeoSights post by the Utah Geological Society.

1 comment:

Linnea Mae said...

We also went in late May to Crystal Peak. Saw lots of interesting lizards and a nightjar resting on her eggs. Love your blog!

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