Take in dramatic views of Waterpocket Fold, Capitol Reef, and Canyonlands National Parks all from a single mountain top peak!

Mount Ellen is considered an Ultra Prominent Peak. What's that you may ask? Well, Ultra Prominent Peaks are determined by how high the summit rises above its surroundings. Rising 5,812 feet above the desert floor with a summit elevation of 11,527 feet, Mount Ellen is the third most prominent peak in Utah behind #2 Mount Peale in the La Sal Range, and #1 Kings Peak in the Uinta Mountains. In case you are wondering, Denali is the most prominent peak in the USA with a prominence of 20,146 feet. 

Mount Ellen, located in the Henry Mountains of Utah was the last mountain range mapped within the 48 contiguous states in 1872. So it's remote and provides plenty of solitude.

For an 11,527 foot tall peak and the third most prominent peak in Utah, this is probably the easiest hike. The trailhead starts at Bull Creek Pass, which is at 10,500 feet. Sign in at the registry and follow the trail along the ridge to the north. Along the ridge, you'll experience a couple of false summits. Slightly over 2 miles into the hike you'll see the mailbox in a cairn pile. Sign the notepad, kick back, and enjoy the views of Waterfold Pocket, Capitol Reef NP, Hanksville, Goblin Valley, and Canyonlands NP. Round trip, the hike is slightly over 4 miles.

Due to the massive elevation gain from the valley below, the temps can be quite a bit cooler on the summit, so be sure to bring an extra layer. If you have a spotting scope, bring it so you can scan the meadows below for wild bison! The Henry Mountains are home to the second largest herd of genetically pure bison. 

For the fastest route to get to Mount Ellen, head south on Hwy 95 from Hanksville for approximately 10 miles and turn right on BLM 0095. Follow that dirt road past Lonesome Beaver Campground until you come to  Lonesome Beaver Junction. Turn right and head up to Bull Creek Pass for about 3 miles. Keep in mind the last 1/2 mile will probably be snow covered until early June. 

A slightly longer route is to take the Bull Creek Pass Backcountry Byway Route where you can see Little Egypt and a couple of old mining cabins. 

If Bull Creek Pass still has snow, you can drive around the south side past of the mountains, which is at lower elevations and make it to the pass from the West.

From Hanksville, it can take anywhere from 1.5 - 2 hours depending on your route and your driving speed.

The Henry Mountains are on BLM land, and you can camp pretty much anywhere, but if you want picnic tables, fire rings, and outhouses you can camp at McMillan Springs Campground or Lonesome Beaver Campground. Water is very limited, so be sure to bring enough. 

Also, make sure your vehicle can handle rough roads. It's desolate in the Henry Mountains. If you get stuck or broke down, it could be a couple of days until someone comes along.

Enjoy! 

Pack List

  • Daypack
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Camera
  • Windbreaker
  • Spotting scope
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RT Distance 4 Miles
Elevation Gain 1091 Feet
Activities Chillin, Camping, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Scenic
Wildlife

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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