Beaver County is one of Utah’s wildest and least known areas. Located in the southwest part of the state, it’s about a three hour drive from Salt Lake City. You’ll find soaring mountains on its eastern edge and a succession of remote ranges west of Beaver—the county seat, located along Interstate 15. The county is a playground for hardy adventurers who scramble up Delano Peak, climb gleaming granite slabs on the Milford Domes, watch mountain goats frolic on snow and rock, hike the panoramic Skyline Trail, and explore the Wah Wah Mountains. Beaver County is an adventurer’s paradise with natural wonders and experiences that match the best of Utah’s iconic national parks.
1. Climb Delano Peak—High Point of Beaver County
Delano Peak, the 12,169-foot high point of Beaver County, offers a skyscraping hike to a rocky summit with eagle’s-eye views across southern Utah. Delano rises from the crest of the Tushar Range, Utah’s third-highest mountain range, east of Beaver and I-15. Begin the moderate hike from a trailhead on Forest Road 123, and follow a trail up Delano Peak’s broad West Ridge, climbing almost 1,700 feet in 1.5 miles to the rounded summit. After a snack, sign your name in a mailbox register. For a longer hike, traverse south along the range crest for 1.5 miles to neighboring 11,985-foot Mount Holly. Descend its west slopes to the Skyline Trail, which leads northwest to the road and your car. You’ll find free primitive camping in meadows at Big John Flat below Delano Peak.
While you’re climbing, chances are good that you can spot some mountain goats, which love high snowy places like the Tushar Mountains in eastern Beaver County. This rugged land above the trees is covered with rock, snow, and grassy tundra, with plants and animals adapted to survive in a frigid environment. The Tushars offer perfect terrain for mountains goats, with its herd growing from a small group transplanted in 1986 to a healthy herd of 200 to 300 animals. The Tushar goats are so prolific that they are captured and relocated to other Utah ranges like the La Sal Mountains. The best time to see the shaggy, white mountain goats is from July through September. Bring binoculars, spotting scopes, cameras, and warm clothes. Don’t forget that they’re wild animals—keep your distance.
2. Hiking the Skyline National Recreation Trail
The 23-mile Skyline National Recreation Trail, one of Utah’s best unknown hikes, twists through wooded valleys and across open meadows below the western crest of the lofty Tushar Mountains. The trail, closed to motorized vehicles, feels remote with peaceful campsites, wildflower-strewn meadows, and stunning mountain views. While the hike can be done in a long day with a car shuttle, it’s best to spend the night and savor the quiet. Alternatively, the trail easily breaks into three distinct sections, each one offering a day hike from four different trailheads. The southern end of the trail begins at 10,500-foot Big Flat Trailhead, heading northeast below Mount Holly and Delano Peak, the range high point, for nine miles to a trailhead at Big John Flat. The second trail segment passes through evergreen forest and rolling meadows for seven miles to Mud Lake off Forest Road 123. The last eight-mile section, offering spectacular views of Mount Baldy and Mount Belknap, descends 1,300 feet to gorgeous Blue Lake before climbing up to the Bullion Pasture Trailhead on road 123. Plan your hike for mid-July after the snow melts until late October. Most of the hiking follows easy singletrack trail, with only three steep sections.
3. Rock Climbing at Milford Domes in the Mineral Mountains
Some of Utah’s best off-the-beaten-track climbing adventures are found on the Milford Domes on the west side of the Mineral Mountains. The domes—a collection of white granite cliffs, buttresses, towers, and castles—offer loads of bolt-protected slab routes and tricky jam cracks to thrill climbers. Be sure to bring your TRAD rack to get the best of these climbs. The developed cliffs, centered around Rock Corral Recreation Area, are easily accessed from Milford and state highway 21. This is a true adventure climbing area with only a few named formations and routes. It’s best to set up base camp at scenic Rock Corral and explore the area. Wander around the secluded formations and pick a suitable route. Named cliffs include Meltdown Dome, Never Never Land, Plasma Dome, and Chromosome Dome. The longest lines ascend Geode Dome, an 800-foot-high cliff high on 9,580-foot Granite Peak. Make sure to bring a climbing guide book or contact a local guide company who can help you with your rock climbing adventure tuckerhighadventuretours.com
4. Ride an ATV on the Paiute Trail
The Paiute ATV Trail offers an amazing ride for those looking to explore south-central Utah by off-road vehicle. Rated one of the 15 best trails in the country (by ATV Illustrated magazine), the Paiute Trail was formed by connecting old roads and trails in the Fishlake National Forest with land administered by the Bureau of Land Management. The 275-mile loop trail also includes more than 1,000 miles of marked side trails and forest roads to explore. The trail is designed for relaxing riding that’s family-friendly, and it features panoramic scenes from the ridges (with views for hundreds of miles), plus some dense forested sections as well. Fishing and camping opportunities are available near the path, which can be accessed via many small towns in central Utah, including Beaver.
5. Enjoy Winter Sports
The snow brings a whole new group of ways to explore the region. Tushar Mountain Tours operates in the Fishlake National Forest, and it offers backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling tours to those interested in exploring the region. You can spend the night in a yurt (or a condo) and the experienced guides will help you find the best powder of your life. For traditional downhill skiing and snowboarding, the Eagle Point Resort in Beaver, Utah, features more than 40 named runs and a terrain park spread out over 650 skiable acres. You’ll find everything from tree-lined groomed trails to the steepest, most challenging runs in southern Utah. And you won’t find the crowds found at many of Utah’s biggest resorts.
Written by Stewart Green for RootsRated Media in partnership with Utah Office of Tourism.