Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 38.86093°N / 110.81736°W
Activities Activities: Scrambling
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 7420 ft / 2262 m
Sign the Climber's Log


 Ghost Rock West
View from Ghost Rock West

Ghost Rock is a pinnacle along I-70 in Utah's San Rafael Swell. Apparently, a cowboy on a foggy morning saw the top of the pinnacle protruding from a bed of fog, thought it appeared ghostly, and dubbed it "Ghost Rock." Today, there is a rest area by the formation, and travelers can get out to enjoy the great views. Sadly, some visitors have left behind modern rock "art" (graffiti) on the formation.

"Ghost Rock West" is a notable formation adjacent to I-70 directly west of Ghost Rock. The name is not official and comes from the name of the rest area just east of it. While it is not as dramatic or as steep as Ghost Rock, it provides a fun scramble on crumbly slickrock and is great not as a major objective but rather as something to do if one needs to get out and stretch the legs. Climbing it only takes about 15 minutes, and elevation gain isn't even 200'. As I said, it's a fun little scramble, not something to plan a day around.

The southeastern corner has a line up it that has the look of Class 4 or low Class 5, but I found something easier and less exposed on the north face. I zigged and zagged up a short series of ledges and slabs, eventually gaining the summit, where there was a small cairn but no register. This route was Class 3/4 on soft sandstone that broke easily, though I should add that when I climbed it, the rock was probably softer than usual due to rain and snow the night before.

Views are really not much different than they are from the adjacent rest area, but there obviously is more peace and quiet at the summit. It's a spectacular view, though, giving a nice perspective of Ghost Rock and a stunning, sweeping vista north of the Swell, replete with deep canyons and unnamed monoliths, that have seen little or no hikers and climbers.

View from Ghost Rock West
Ghost Rock
Chimney Rock

Getting There

"Ghost Rock West" is located between Exits 116 and 131 on I-70, almost halfway between but closer to 116 than to 131. The Ghost Rock West rest area is accessible to westbound travelers; the Ghost Rock rest area is off the eastbound lanes. It might be illegal to cross the interstate by foot (it probably is since pedestrians are not allowed on the highway), but bold outlaws should know that the highway is rarely busy and is easy to cross on foot, though this page is not an endorsement or an encouragement of breaking the law. There are also numerous gravel median crossings; some are clearly marked as open to authorized vehicles only (i.e. police officers setting speed traps to collect revenue for the local government), but others are not. Again, this is information, not an encouragement or an endorsement.


Red Tape and Camping

Red tape out here? Nah. The only thing I'd say are these:

1. Don't be yet another jackass thinking it's a good idea to vandalize the rock.

2. On the approach (and the return), do your best not to trample the biological crust.

The closest developed campground is about 20 miles north on a dirt road from Exit 131. However, at Exits 116, 131, and 149, there is access to unpaved roads where dispersed camping is available.