Alabaster-white Granite Peak stands out dramatically from the surrounding brown-and-olive slopes of the Mineral Mountains. The scenery behind the main ridge's jagged exfoliated granite slabs and enormous standing rocks is spectacular, too. Located between Milford and Beaver, Utah, the 16,000-acre Granite Peak area is readily accessible from those towns or from Interstate 15 and provides a scenic, natural area for backcountry recreationists. The proposed wilderness also contains important archeological sites, obsidian quarries that were used from Paleo-Indian to historic times.

Access is easiest from Beaver, Utah. From town, travel west towards Minersville Lake. Turn right onto a dirt road about five miles out of Beaver and right again after a mile. Old mining roads parallel the mountain on either side, but the most interesting views and hikes are from the western flank, on the far side of Soldier Pass from Beaver.

Granitic Walls and Gothic Spires

The Mineral Mountains, of which Granite Peak is the most notable feature, have been studied intensively by scientists from the University of Utah in connection with geothermal and volcanic activity in the Great Basin. The striking white rock of Granite Peak is 11-million-year-old quartz monzonite, while the darker rhyolite extrusions in the area are young by comparison at 400,000 years (Stokes, 1986).

The igneous rocks of the Mineral Mountains are the source of heat for several nearby springs, such as Roosevelt Hot Springs. Development of the springs for power generation is a possibility, but the proposed wilderness would remain unaffected. Although extensively explored for minerals, Granite Peak supports no active mines and offers little promise of doing so in the foreseeable future. Most of the highlands are too rugged for livestock grazing; the BLM has instituted grazing reductions on the lower slopes (independent of wilderness reviews) to rehabilitate damaged range.

Residents of Milford and Beaver commonly use the Rock Corral Recreation Site on the flats west of Granite Peak for picnics and day hikes. An overnight trip from the picnic area into the rugged uplands of Granite Peak is likely a trip into solitude. Hunters may find deer and blue grouse in the pinyon pine and juniper woodlands, while wildlife watchers may see a variety of birds and small mammals. The granitic walls and spires offer challenging rock climbing.

During its intensive inventory, the BLM eliminated the wilderness core of the Granite Peak area because of old mining impacts on its periphery. Had the BLM made a small boundary change for its inventory area, it could have proposed Granite Peak as a WSA.

The Utah Wilderness Coalition Proposal

There are 16,000 acres of unroaded land around Granite Peak that should be designated as wilderness. The major attraction for most visitors is its handsome scenery and rugged terrain. Wilderness designation would also protect archeological sites of major significance, maintain high-quality wildlife habitat, and ensure that this wild land remains undiminished in the future.

Mike Medberry