Mike Christensen photo
View from the road in
Cedar Benchmark is the highest point in the Cedar Mountain Range, one of the newest Wilderness areas recently created by congress in 2006. West of Salt Lake City and located just south of I-80, this interesting area is an easy hour and a half drive from the Salt Lake City area. Home to a wild horse herd of over 250 animals, this area attracts many who are interested in
photographing and trying to see these animals. Other animals found in this area include proghorn antelope, mule deer, rabbits, badgers, bobcats and mountain lions. Eagles and hawks are residents of the area as well as many other types of birds including chukars and smaller birds.
Referred to as Cedar Benchmark (see peakbagger.com
) by some and as the Cedar Mountain Highpoint by others (lists of John), both of those name designations will help you find their info pages on peakbagger or Lists of John. Cedar Benchmark is one of Utahs peaks that have at least 2000 feet of prominence and thanks to having 2847 feet of clean prominence comes in at #45 on the Utah Prominence List. More information on prominence will be given in a section at the bottom of this page. For more specific information, this link
will give you additional information and access to a nice google map of the area.
Many feel that politics played a role in the creation of this wilderness area as the U.S. Congress may have designated the Cedar Mountain Wilderness primarily in response to an effort by members of the Utah congressional delegation and the Utah governor to block rail access to a proposed high-level nuclear waste storage facility on the nearby Skull Valley Goshute Reservation. The project is sponsored by a consortium of nuclear power companies known as Private Fuel Storage, which received a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in February 2006. The facility has not yet been built and now probably won't.
From the New York Times
of all sources, the above is supported by this
"On Jan. 6, 100,000 acres of the Cedar Mountains became the newest federally designated wilderness area — and the first named in Utah in more than 20 years. This granting of official wilderness status arose from an unusual alliance between environmentalists and Utah's Republican politicians, who rarely find themselves on the same side of any issue. The environmentalists wanted to protect the Cedar Mountains for their own sake. The politicians wanted to block a proposed railroad line to the Goshute Indian Reservation, impeding a Goshute plan to gain income by storing nuclear waste produced in other states (Utah has no nuclear power plants). As in all wilderness areas, mechanized equipment is banned within Cedar Mountain's boundaries — including not just trains, but also cars and even bicycles." Read the whole article if you get the chance as it is well done.
In Utah, Cedar refers to the Juniper tree, which is the name of this wilderness area. Why call a Juniper tree a Cedar? The misuse of the name Cedar came about when early settlers incorrectly called the juniper trees, cedar trees. The common Rocky Mountain juniper (what was thought to be cedar trees) is why places in Utah are called "Cedar City" etc. There are no Cedar trees in this wilderness area but there are plenty of junipers. See this link
for more information on the Utah juniper.
Exit 56 is located about halfway between Wendover and Salt Lake City and thanks to that exit being located on I-80, access to the Cedar Mountain's west side is very easy. After leaving the freeway, the road is two miles of blacktop as it heads for a plant located at Aragonite. Watch for a dirt road located just before the plant and turn left. Go another mile or two until you see the
BLM Cedar Mountain information board and register box. Stop here and register and then take the right fork which heads south. To continue on via the left fork would take you up to Hastings Pass, not the way you want to go. After crossing the cattle grate that is just beyond the BLM board, zero your odometer and plan on driving 13.2 miles to a jeep road.
As you travel on this generally well graded dirt and gravel road, you may have to watch for cattle on the road or very close to the road. Slow down and remember that cattle have the right of way on open range country. As you travel south, after passing the cattle grate, note that at the six mile mark you will pass a junction with a road heading left (east). Ignore this road and continue on your southward direction. It helped me to have the jeep road GPS'd so I would have no doubt about where it was located.
That waypoint, 13.2 miles from the BLM bulletin board (or 16.8 miles from exit 56) is found at 40. 5577 113.00139 (lat/long nad 27) The road actually goes past a cattle watering station and then swings north up the hill and into a canyon that leads to Quincy Springs. Drive 1.3 miles up this road,
to where the road starts to swing back north and up the hill (to Quincy Springs) and park. The hill opposite where you park is the beginning of your route.
A 4WD vehicle could do this whole road (in my opinion) although not in weather where the road could be blocked by snow or muddy. High clearance needed for the jeep road and several more recent visitors have mentioned that the road is now in very rough shape so be sure and check the climber's log at the left to get some updated information on the road up from the west side.
Plan on close to an hour for driving from the interstate to the parking spot since the almost 17 miles will require your attention and careful driving.
East side access will not be covered on this page although it is feasible to access the summit from the eastside. See the climber's log for a mention of coming from the eastside.
See route page for route.
Summit getting closer
This is BLM administered land even though it has a wilderness designation. The jeep road up to Quincy Springs is fortunately not restricted to motor vehicles as almost every other access route is. It works out well for
the route to the summit which will be described in the Northwest ridge route(forthcoming).
For more information from the BLM, see the following:
2370 S. 2300 W.
Salt Lake City UT 84119
The Salt Lake Field Office is located in the northwest corner of Utah. Much of this area is part of the Great Basin region, a place of isolated mountain ranges separated by wide sweeping sagebrush flats. This area is also a land of illusions, floating islands and vanishing water mirages. Almost touching the Utah-Nevada borders is the salt flats, a unique plain of almost pure white salt. The unique geological oddity is known for being one of the only places in the United States where one can see the curvature of of the earth over dry land. Just south of the flats is the Pony Express Trail where horse riders risked their lives delivering mail in the 1860s. Contact 2370 S. 2300 W., Salt Lake City, UT 84119, 801-977-4300.
Follow the restrictions as posted by the BLM. For more information,
see this informative FAQ's page offered in PDF form by the BLM on the Cedar Mountain Wilderness area:
BLM FAQ page
No campgrounds exist in this relatively primative area. Generally it is ok to camp off road on BLM lands as long as you don't impact the area with fire rings and trash. Clean up after yourself and create as low an impact on the area as you can.
See section 7 of the following link: Section 7 camping
(scroll to it)
It is possible to stay in a motel in Wendover or Salt Lake and have plenty of time to do this peak. There are other campgrounds located in the Stansbury mountains near Deseret Peak and Clover Springs campground
off of 199. This would be a good choice is one was planning to do Stookey BM peak in addition to Cedar Peak.
Weather (closest resource)
Other links and comments
My thanks to Eric Willhite
and his family who did this hike just a few days before I made my visit and it was due to their inspiration and success that made me want to try their route and not the one from the east side that I had been planning to do. Click here
for Eric's neat report and pics.
Mike Christensen photo
Prominence is emerging as another interesting way to enjoy the mountains. I love to chase peaks that have some kind of extra meaning and prominence peaks allow me to see so many areas of a state that i would never have visited. Here is some informational sources regarding prominence.
Utah has 84 prominence peaks
with 2000 feet of prominence (or close to 2000 ft). Of course, many of them are in the western desert and provide a challenge of just getting to them.
Photo by Mike Christensen
For a good explanation of prominence, check HERE
. at peaklist.org.
Here's a great map you can see by clicking on this LINK.
A book has been published
on Prominence by Adam Helman.
Another link to lots of information on prominence can be found HERE
The wild horses of the Cedars.
Wild Horses on Cedar Peaks summit (Eric Willhite photo)
To many people, wild horses are not part of the true wildlife scene.
However, Nevada and Utah has several areas where these horses, do run wild and have created a big presence. They are not well loved by those who feel that they unfairly compete with the natural wildlife for forage and range but then you could say the same thing about cattle and sheep. At least these animals do have a sense of majesty. I made one trip on the east side of the range when I was trying to find a route up (got cliffed out) back in November and I could hear something off in the bushes about two hundred feet away.
I stood still and listened and before long I saw this big head of a horse looking intently at me, obviously trying to figure out who or what I was.
I took some pics but none turned out decent.
Please take the time to check out a couple of the following links. They have some great pics:
and most important, read this one:
CEDAR RANGE HORSES
and this one:
More CEDAR HORSE Pics
When I visited the summit, John Vitz and Donna O. had been there 10 years prior. However, just a few days before, Eric Willhite and his family had been to the top and I've put a link above to his fine trip report. I found no register so I left one in a cairn at the top but since then others have mentioned to me that they couldn't find this one either. I believe that registers often disappear mysteriously in Wilderness areas so if you visit and bring a register, it may have a short life. Since my visit, there have been many others who have made the trek to this one and you can find their comments in the climber's log at the left of this page and on peakbagger and Lists of John. Lists of John's register indicates over 22 visitors with the most recent in Feb. 2015.
As 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. 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.