So, do you like really remote peaks and territory? Pull open any guidebook to Colorado or Utah with the hikes and climbs marked, and you will usually notice the big blank spot in Northwestern Colorado and Northeast Utah. Many of these peaks are spectacular and almost completely ignored, despite the fact that they offer some very fine scenery. Only a few of the more accessible peaks are on Summitpost, but there is enough exploring here to keep one busy for years.
Diamond Mountain is more a range or a sub-range than a single mountain and consists of dozens of summits. The mountain is an extension of the Uinta Mountains
and made of the same pre-Cambrian quartzite as the main core of the Uintas. The mountain itself is less rugged than some of its southern neighbors, which are located in or closer to Dinosaur National Monument.
Diamond Mountain itself straddles the Utah/Colorado border. The highest point appears to be Peak 8674, which is less than 0.4 miles west of the border, and on the Utah side, but it doesn’t seem clear if Peak 8748 located just to the south belongs to either Diamond or Hoy Mountain. Also, the peak just east of Peak 8674 and on the Colorado side is listed as 8673, making it only one foot lower.
Diamond Mountain has an interesting history. Browns Park to the north was used by trappers as a rendezvous site as early as 1826, but the most famous history of the area has to do with illegal activities.
The mountain is named for the great Diamond Hoax of 1872
. This particular Diamond Mountain was one of the remote locations where diamonds were sprinkled to dupe investors out of money. Diamond Mountain’s association with outlaws does not stop there. Browns Park was also the favorite hideout for such notorious outlaws as Butch Cassidy, Sundance Kid, Annie Basset, and Tom Horn.
Now days, the area is much more quiet. Browns Park is probably the most remote town in the state of Colorado. About a dozen families make their home here.
also holds the Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge, which is primarily a refuge for migratory birds. The area is also very rich in many other types of wildlife as well.
A few of the peaks of Diamond Mountain as viewed from the park-like meadow in Chokecherry Draw. The VABM is the peak in the center of the photo.
The route taken to the Chokecherry Draw trailhead depends on if you are approaching from Utah, Wyoming, or Colorado.
From Colorado, you will travel from Maybell on Highway 40 and onto Highway 318. According to CDOT, this is the least used and most remote highway in Colorado, so take plenty of supplies. Browns Park has a small store and fuel available most of the time. From Maybell, drive Highway 318 west for about 60 miles to County Road 83. This is only a couple miles short of the Utah border.
From Utah or Wyoming, the route is more complicated and remote. There are two main routes.
The first route is via Clay Basin. You will actually begin the trip in Wyoming, along Highway 191, but just north of the Utah border. A good county road leads from there to Browns Park, but since it has been many years since I’ve been there, I can’t comment on the county road number.
The second route is shorter, but has a rougher road. From Vernal Utah, drive north on Vernal Avenue to Fifth North, then drive east 25 miles to the Diamond Mountain and Brown's Park signed turnoff, then drive 16 miles north on an infrequently maintained dirt road to Browns Park.
As stated above, whether approaching from Utah, Wyoming, or Colorado, the goal is County Road 83. Turn south on County Road 83 and cross the interesting Swinging Bridge over the Colorado River.
Right after crossing the bridge, turn east (left) and follow the road for 1.6 miles to another turnoff to the right. Turn right and drive a short distance to a gate. Park here and this is the trailhead. The road beyond is part of a WSA and closed, but some are driving it illegally. Please don’t do this.
All these summits are considered to be part of "Diamond Mountain". The "mountain" is almost a small mountain range in itself.
As mentioned above, Diamond Mountain is almost a small range and there are many routes available. The only one I’ve done (so far) is to the VABM Summit from Chokecherry Draw
. See the route page for more details. This route is a moderately challenging route of 11 miles round trip.
This is one of the class 3 scrambling pitches on the Chokecherry Draw to VABM summit of Diamond Mountain.
Many other routes to various peaks are available. Some of the possibilities are outlined below.
On the north side of the mountain, Hoy Draw
is another recommended access route. Apparently a good trail (according to the BLM) leads to a spring which would put you in a good position to climb the eastern peaks of Diamond Mountain.
, just east of Chokecherry Draw is another recommended access route and several peaks could be climbed from that direction. Use the same trailhead as in the "Getting There" section and on the Chokecherry Route Page, but turn left at the first junction along the route, rather than right. The same peaks that are climbed from Chokecherry could be climbed from here, but expect some bushwhacking.
On the Utah side and for the western peaks of Diamond Mountain, Crouse Creek
is probably the logical place to look for routes. The middle section of Crouse Creek canyon has steep walls, but the northern and southern slopes of the canyon appear to offer several routes. A trail is present in Pitt Draw
and is described as a hike in the book Colorado's Colorado's Canyon Country.
An old road also reaches the head of Chokecherry Draw from Crouse Creek. This would be the easiest route to climb the western peaks, including both the highest point and the VABM mentioned in the Chokecherry Route Page, but I assume the road is open to foot travel only since this is a WSA.
On the south side of the mountain, Hoy Flat
is the most centralized location for attempts on most of the central and eastern peaks of Diamond Mountain.
All peaks on Diamond Mountain are between Class 2-3 in difficulty. The rock is hard, so on the outcrops, good cragging can be found so some 5th class climbs can be done on outcrops if you so desire.
Peak 8674 (center) is probably the highest summit of Diamond Mountain. The peak just to the east is listed as one foot lower.
When to Climb
The ideal time of year to climb the peak is from mid-April through May and into early June. This will give you long days and more water availability. An added bonus is that the meadows will be green and the barrel cactus will be in bloom.
This is also the best time for overnight backpacking and extended trips. Snowbanks will usually exist into early May, meaning that water will be less a problem if climbing from mid-April to early May and this is the best time for overnight trips.
Summers are hot here, plus wearing shorts is not recommended because of the bushwhacking required to climb the peaks. Plan on carrying much water.
September and October usually provide good climbing weather as well. The valleys aren’t as green though and there is less water than in the Spring. Hunting is banned on the north side of the mountain, so Fall is a good time to climb when other areas in this region are crawling with hunters.
One good thing about climbing Diamond Mountain in the spring is that the barrel cactus are in full bloom. This was taken April 28 2007.
Don't drive in the WSA. Hunting is not allowed in the Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge.
There are several campgrounds in Browns Park. The Gates of Ladore and the one in Browns Park Refuge itself and the RV park in Browns Park “Town” are all good places to camp.
More primitive camping can be had on the surrounding BLM lands.
In the backcountry, Chokecherry Draw has some nice camping areas. See the route page for details. Outside Chokecherry Draw, there are many campsites, but few have water availability except for snow and snowbanks before early May. If there are no visible snowbanks on the mountain, plan on carrying all water, except for at Chokecherry and Hoy Springs. Some springs on the map are not reliable.
Excellent campsites are in the grassy meadow in Chokecherry Draw.
Mountain ConditionsCLICK HERE FOR DIAMOND MOUNTAIN WEATHER FORECAST
Below is the National Weather Service Climate Summary of Browns Park, just to the north of Diamond Mountain. The data is from 1966-1997. This is the closest long term weather station, but be aware that higher elevations will be a bit wetter and colder. Browns Park is at 5350 feet elevation, so expect the temperatures on Diamond Mountain to be 10-15 degrees colder on Diamond Mountain than in Browns Park.
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