OverviewThe House range is a truly dominant range in the Western Utah desert so it is easy for the Confusion Range to escape notice from most people who are fairly knowledgeable about Notch and Swasey Peaks. Even when standing on top of Notch Peak, the Confusion Range peaks do not make much of an impression. The confusion range is split into two parts by US 50/6 which makes it way over the range via Kings Canyon. The northern range is topped by Conger Mtn which tops the north part at 8144'. The southern part of the range is topped by Kingtop which at 8350 is definitely King of the hill, so to speak. Interestingly enough, Kingtop is not without a rival as a peak on the northern side of Bonny Stairs canyon reaches 8348, a mere two feet lower.
Both the northern and southern portions of this little mountain range have been designated as "Wilderness Study Areas" about which little information seems to be available. In a search of google, little could be found that would help in providing meaningful information for this page. One source provided by the BLM has both some limited information and a map. and you can find that HERE. However, in a book, "Utah's Wilderness Areas" by Lynna and Leland Howard, a reference to the Kingtop area is made on page 114. They provide little information other than the fact that no perennial streams nor any springs are to be found within the Kingtop Wilderness Study Area, making this area truly one of the most arid in all of Utah. On the north side, they mention Cat Canyon, named after the dominant resident of this area, the Cougar. So it seems, that Cougars and Wild Horses seem to be the dominant mammals with the probability of a small deer population that varies in size (we did see some droppings on our hike in). Few roads penetrate the area and these are to be found on the western side of the range (our route for instance) are the ones that were built to aid in exploration for mineral riches. It doesn't look like this area supported much in the way of cattle although sheepherders worked the lower reaches of the range.
Micheal Kelsey is the only other resource for this range as he describes the Bonny Stairs route to reach the top of this plateau like area. He calls it "one of the most isolated and least known areas in Utah" That is about the extent of the information I was able to locate for this mountain and area.
KING TOP MOUNTAINS
The King Top Mountains Herd Management Area (HMA) is located 70 miles west of Delta. The HMA is bounded by old Highway 50 & 6 on the north and the Crystal Peak Road on the south. Horses usually range along the foothills in the southwest portion of the HMA.
The HMA contains 149,567 acres of federal and state lands.
The vegetation on the upper slopes of the HMA is dominated by pinyon and juniper communities. The lower slopes are covered by sagebrush, shadscale, and ricegrass.
The original source of the animals is unknown. However, this herd has be augmented through historic times with domestic horses from local ranches.
The King Top horses tend to be a bit smaller than the Conger horses. The herd is dominated by black, bay, and brown colors. Light colors are uncommon.
The wild horses on this HMA average 13 to 14 hands tall and weigh 700 to 900 pounds.
The BLM management goal for this herd is to maintain a herd size between 40 and 60 head.
From Delta Utah, drive west until you reach a road junction (a dirt road) that leads to a radio tower complex) in Kings Canyon. See the map I have provided for GPS coordinates. Roughly this road is between 65 and 70 miles from Delta but having the GPS turned on helped to locate the turnoff which would be easy to drive past as there are no signs. Once you turn off on the road, you will see the radio towers but not until you turn onto the road. The road to the towers is high clearance but 4WD shouldn't be
necessary. Beyond the towers, the road gets rough and you need to make certain
you have done your map homework. See the the three maps I have posted in the photo section at the left.
The attached map will cover the information needed and eliminate a route page as there isn't much of a route to get to this one.
Additional maps and route.I have posted three more maps to aid the intrepid explorer and those are now posted in the pics section as first, second and third maps. The last map is the route map. Overall, we had 4 miles roundtrip as we had to park 1/2 mile short of the last waypoint (DD) and about 1000 feet of elevation gain. Roundtrip time was less than three hours and you need to add the hour drive in time (and the hour out). Remember, we did it from the north. The Bonny Stairs (eastern) route is going to take longer.
Trip report and a few observations
See my trip report posted on the left side of this page. It contains more pictures and gives more detail about our visit. So, without duplicating a lot of that again, I would
refer you to my trip report.
Bonny Stairs route: (eastern approach)
Update: See Sam Grant's GPS track posted at peakbagger as he went the Bonny Stairs route. "Via Bonny Stairs Canyon. Awesome area and great route. This route was unbelievably scenic but it was an asskicker. Very rugged and rough."
Mike Kelsey's book discusses the Bonny Stairs approach, a great resource if you are interested in that route. "Hiking, Climbing and Exploring Western Utah...." (check Amazon for availability)
Mr. Kelsey has a map and details about his route on page 232 of his book.
See Jason Hardink's 2010 for the Bonny Stairs route in a section below.
Also see the most recent report about coming in the same way that Greg, Kadee and I did as posted by Eric Kassan on May 3rd, 2015.
About 14 people (as of Sept 2015) indicate that they have been to the summit of this one and this information is found on peakbagger (recommended) and Lists of John. Both websites maintain a "register" where those who have been to the summit can indicate that. Unfortunately, few people seem to sign the summitpost climbers log but those who do often provide great updates and additional information.
Had it not been for Andy Martin of Arizona who visited this area just a week before we did, I wouldn't have know about the roads that allowed us to access it from the north. This part of Utah fascinates me and I am not sure why but perhaps it is the fact that you do indeed feel like an explorer to a certain degree and the area isn't being swarmed with other people on ATV's and motorcycles. I wouldn't care to ride a motorcyle up the road I drove my tacoma on, no thanks to that idea.
Red Tape, camping and preparedness
No red tape other than the need to stop at the "No vehicles beyond" sign which is almost funny as most vehicles unless they are high clearence with 4WD aren't going to make it even that far. You can bush camp and use "leave no trace" ethics. For the Bonny Stairs route (not described here at this time), you can most likely find places to camp along the way to the end of that road. Remember, carry all the water you need, have adequate food and realize you will see few others and so make certain that family and friends know where you have gone in case you have vehicle trouble. I also recommend carrying an extra spare tire (making it two spares) as you could easily
need both of them.
Be prepared for your visit out in these Utah "outback" areas, they are truly isolated. No cell coverage should be expected.
Kingtop, near Notch and Swasey peaks....
Why not plan to pick up Notch Peak, Swasey Peak, Crystal Peak, to name a few or continue on to the Great Basin National Park to hike up Nevada's second highest peak, Wheeler. With the price of gas these days, it makes sense to combine adventures into one nice package.
2010 trip reportJason Hardink recently reported his Kingtop effort on Utah peak bagger (a yahoo group).
[utahpeakbagging] King Top Loop
Sat, March 13, 2010 11:15:12 AM
I climbed King Top from the east yesterday (March 12). I didn't study the Kelsey guide to this area, and it turns out I pretty much hiked a loop he suggests as a possibility.
I drove .7 miles west off Blind Valley Rd in the direction of Bonny Stairs Canyon before the access road disappeared. From there I walked to the mouth of Bonny Stairs, climbed south to the ridge connecting 7,209/8,313, and then followed the ridge west, aiming at a notch just south of 8,313. I snowshoed most of the ridge but had to boot it near the top due to the steepness.
After the lengthy ridge south and then west to the summit, I headed NW through deep powder to Bonny Stairs Canyon; I hit the canyon right at the headwall Kelsey mentions and found a gully just to the north as a bypass. It was slow going with deep snow in the bottom of the canyon on my way out. I highly recommend this route- it may be substantially easier without the snow. The cliffs on the east side of King Top provide the best views on the mtn, and the trip through Bonny Stairs very impressive. I put in just under 10 miles on this route.
DisclaimerAs road conditions can change and hiking, climbing or traveling in this type of country can be inherently dangerous, the above information is provided only as a courtesy. You accept all risk and responsibility for your activities in this area and I recommend that you let others know of your plans and where you will be hiking/climbing prior to heading to this area. Be self sufficient and carry plenty of food, water and shelter in the event of a breakdown. Good quality tires are a necessity on the rough and rocky roads you will encounter as is a vehicle in good condition. Greg shredded a tire on the way out. Roads may become impassable when wet. Avoid the area during electrical storms and avoid high ridges &exposed areas. Having said all that, have a good trip and please let the author of this page know of changes that you encounter.
Please let me know if road conditions or access changes.