George H Hansen peak is the highest peak of the remote Fish Springs Range. The peak is named after George H. Hansen, who was a geologist professor at Brigham Young University
in the mid 1900’s.
The Fish Springs range from the east with George H Hansen peak on the right in the background
Hiking George H Hansen peak is a real adventure; you will find complete solitude, rugged desert mountains and no signs of civilization. This hike should not be underestimated, there are no trails so excellent route finding skills are a must.
The Fish Springs Range lies at the southern tip of the Bonneville Salt Flats
, a very isolated part of the western Utah desert. The entire eastern side of the range is composed of numerous cliff bands, top to bottom, making this range very steep. As you approach George H Hansen peak from the Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge
, the peak looks questionable whether it is possible to hike or not. The peak is part of the Fish Springs Range Wilderness
but not part of the Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge
This mountain range is named after the Fish Springs, a desert oasis. Although many people have not seen the Fish Springs range and springs, including the locals, this area has a significant historical background. Native Americans used the springs for drinking water. The Pony Express and the Overland Stage passed through the springs. There are several historical markers for the Pony Express along the way (If you are coming from Salt Lake City). The first transcontinental telegraph and automobile road, the Lincoln Highway came through the springs. The Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge
is also visited by some 250 species of birds.
THIS IS AN EXTREMELY REMOTE PEAK!
The closest gas station from the 4WD trail is 73 miles away in Delta. With that being said make sure you have plenty of gas, food, water and a spare tire just in case you get stranded. As it could be several days or longer before someone drives by on the “main” road, Sand Pass road. There is no cell phone service, at least for me at the start of the hike. However, I was able to use my cell phone at the top of the peak; cell phone coverage in this part of Utah is sporadic to nonexistent.
George H Hansen peak has 3603 feet of prominence
and is listed as #25
on Peakbagger.com’s list
of Utah peaks with the most prominence.
Getting there is going to be half of the adventure. The actual start of the 4WD trail will be hard to find as it is a very faint trail that heads off in the western direction. A GPS is recommended to find the start. If a GPS is not available, your odometer will be sufficient to find the start.
The coordinates for the start of the 4WD trail :
N 39.71942, W -113.3686 (WGS 84)
Some of these roads might not have signs so use your odometer. I have not driven all of these roads mentioned, but they should
be passable to sedans. The dirt roads around the trailhead have very little maintenance and of course no winter maintenance. Thus, road conditions change rapidly and are widely varied. Driving times can also vary, for example, it took me 2.5 hours to get to fish springs from Salt Lake City the past time I visited, however it has taken me 4.5 hours to get there coming the same way. If anyone has recent information about any of these road conditions, please post it.
From Salt Lake City (black) :
Head south on I-15 to the town of Lehi, where you will take State Highway 73 west. After following 73 for 25 miles you will go over Five Mile Pass, almost immediately after crossing the pass take a left onto Faust Road. There will be signs for the Pony Express Road also. Follow the Faust road for 13.5 miles to where it ends at State Highway 36. Take a left on 36 and go 0.5 mile to the Pony Express Road which will be on the right. Soon after turning right on the Pony Express Road it will turn into dirt. Follow the Pony Express road, through the wildlife refuge, to Sand Pass Road at about 65 miles from the intersection with State Highway 36. Take left onto Sand Pass Road; heading south for 7.5 miles you will reach the 4WD trail on the right.
From Wendover (blue) :
Take US highway Alt 93 south for 27 miles and take a left onto a paved road that heads towards Callao, follow this road for approximately 17 miles to Gold Hill. In Gold Hill take a left and start heading east for a few miles then the road bears south, continue for 24 miles until a Y intersection. At the Y go left on the Pony Express Road through Callao. Continue heading east; you will cross into the “Fish Springs Wildlife Refuge and reach Sand Pass Road, after 25 miles. At Sand Pass Road take a right onto Sand Pass Road; heading south for 7.5 miles you will reach the 4WD trail on the right.
From Delta (yellow) :
Follow State Road 174 (Weiss Highway), which is accessed about 10 miles east of downtown Delta on Route 6. Take 174 for 40 miles west to the intersection with Weiss Highway and the pavement will end. Continue going straight (west) for another 15 miles where you take a right onto Sand Pass Road. Now, head north on Sand Pass Road for 7 miles to the 4WD trail on the left.
The view from George H Hansen peak is an extensive desert view, stretching miles in every direction. I could easily make out the 3 peaks of Mount Nebo
90 miles away to the east. Swasey Peak
and Notch Peak
of the House Range can be seen to the south. To the southwest mountains of the Nevada Snake Range, Wheeler Peak
and Mount Moriah
. Directly west is Ibapah Peak
and to the northeast is Deseret Peak
Camping is not permitted anywhere inside the Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge. However, undeveloped camping exists virtually everywhere else. Bring your own wood if camping near the Fish Springs Range as it is hard to come by because there are no roads leading into the range. The 4WD trail is passable for high clearance vehicles to the mouth of the access canyon; this is where the junipers start. You can easily backpack into the range and find excellent camping spots throughout the various canyons. Besides the springs there are no water sources in the Fish Springs range (to my knowledge).
I would recommend camping at the closest campground; the CCC campground located near Callao about 35 miles away. There are fire pits and picnic tables here, although no toilets but there is no fee. There are also many undeveloped camping spots around the CCC campground, some on the roads that go into the Deep Creek Range where Ibapah Peak
is located. Firewood is also readily available around here.
To get to the CCC campground from the 4WD trail :
Head north on Sand Pass Road for 7.5 miles where it ends at the Pony Express Road. Go left, the road heads north for a couple miles then turns west, continue for 25 miles through Callao and to an intersection with Snake Valley Road. Go left on Snake Valley Road for about 2 miles; the CCC campground will be on the right.
When To Climb
Fall and spring would be the best times to do this hike. However, this peak could be hiked anytime of the year. The summer is not recommended, hiking from the valley floor on a summer day would be extremely hot. In the winter expect snow; be careful, this range is very steep.
Red Tape & USGS Quads
No permits are required. Please follow wilderness area rules, since George H Hansen peak is part of Fish Springs Range Wilderness
. No off-road vehicles allowed in Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge
Sand Pass, Utah (1:24k)
Fish Springs, Utah (1:24k)
Delta, Utah (1:100k)
Check the forecasted winds for this area, dust storms
are common here. Local weather conditions for Delta, Utah can be found here