Located in the extreme northwest corner of Utah, Little Goose Creek is 1,300 acres of rolling desert hills, sagebrush flats, and small, abrupt anticlines. An additional 12,000 acres extend into Idaho and Nevada. Desert wildlife thrives in and around the area, making it popular with hunters. Grouse are particularly abundant. Little Goose Creek is seldom visited during most of the year and offers a place to hike, camp, and ride horses, as well as photograph and study the biota and geology. Two rare birds, the ferruginous hawk and western burrowing owl, are found in the area. Designating Little Goose Creek would help diversify the National Wilderness Preservation System, which currently has few areas of topographically gentle desert grasslands.

To visit Little Goose Creek, a traveler from the northern Wasatch Front should head west on Utah Highway 30 from the Interstate 15 Park Valley exit near Snowville. It is a two-hour drive to the Grouse Creek road turnoff. If you are traveling from the Salt Lake City area or farther south, take Interstate 80 west to Oasis, Nevada, and follow the paved highway (Route 233) north for one hour to the turnoff. From there head north through the town of Grouse Creek on a secondary graveled road and travel about 26 miles to a major "Y" intersection; take the western road to the Nevada-Utah border and park near the state line. The area boundary is a few hundred yards north of the road. This is the best access point, and there is plenty of space nearby for car camping.

Another good access point is about seven miles north of the "Y" intersection. A few miles north of the Utah-Idaho border, the proposed wilderness boundary touches the road at a gated entrance. Park near the gate and walk the short distance to the creek. Since Little Goose Creek is in the heart of the cleanest airshed in the nation (according to Park Service studies) the views from the tops of ridges can extend nearly 180 miles. Vistas include the Pilot Range and Jarbidge Wilderness in Nevada.

Open, Spare Country

Since it is so remote, visitors to the proposed Little Goose Creek wilderness seldom see or hear any outside activities. Numerous small valleys enhance the feeling of solitude and there is little sign of human intrusion. The undulating sagebrush hills are especially dramatic in changing weather. In summer, thunderclouds cast great shadows across the spare desert landscape.

Sagebrush, cacti, pinyon pine, juniper, and a variety of desert grasses are the predominant vegetation. The range appears to be in good condition. Western burrowing owls and ferruginous hawks, both sensitive species, do well here because of the undisturbed terrain and the abundance of prey. Little Goose Creek also provides important winter deer habitat and good habitat for grouse, other birds, and small mammals. The northwest corner of Utah is a transition zone between the Great Basin and Snake River Plain ecosystems and is of interest to ecologists studying the biology of these two regions. Wilderness designation would help preserve an unspoiled example of this zone.

On the Idaho side, the rolling hills end in 100-foot-high shale bluffs that overlook the wilderness drainage. Near the tri-state border a hiker will find an excellent example of a little-grazed grassland.

The Utah Wilderness Coalition Proposal

We propose that the entire Little Goose Creek area, with 1,300 acres in Utah, be designated as wilderness. During the BLM's wilderness inventory, the agency ignored the nearly unspoiled naturalness of the Little Goose Creek area; no mention was made of the continuous rolling hills that provide excellent watershed and wildlife habitat. There are no known developments planned for the area, and overall, the area has little mineral potential.

Rudy Lukez