Mt. Peale rises proudly to 12,721 feet and is the high point of both San Juan County and the La Sal mountain range in southeastern Utah. The La Sals are the second highest mountain range in Utah, second only to the Uinta Mountains. The La Sals' rise from the valley floor and canyonlands is dramatic. Anyone who has visited Canyonlands or Arches National Park have gazed admirably at the snow capped peaks. They seem oddly out of place. Mount Peale can be seen from the valley floor, but is hidden slightly by it's neighbor, Mt. Tukuhnikivatz Tradition has it that the mountains were named by Silvestre Valez de Escalante, the Spanish missionary and explorer, who saw them during his expedition through Utah in 1776. He called them the Sierra La Sal, or "Salt Mountains" because he thought it unlikely that the white was snow. Mount Peale was named for Albert Peale, a mineralogist on Ferdinand Hayden's 1875 survey team. If you have ever been to the Moab area, you have no doubt laid your eyes on these mountains. The La Sals rise over 8,500 feet above the surrounding desert!
From Moab, UT drive 21.8 miles south on Utah highway 191 to the junction of Utah Highway 46 at La Sal Junction. Turn east (left) onto Utah 46, pass through the small town of La Sal, and drive 12.8 miles to the signed, gravel road stating, "La Sal Pass." Turn left onto this graded gravel road. Drive 2 miles and turn left (west) onto the La Sal Pass Road at a marked junction. Drive another 7.4 miles to La Sal Pass at 10,125 feet. Most 2WD vehictes will make it to this point, however, in late spring there is a creek crossing that may present a challenge during high run-off periods. There are a couple of possible starting points for Mt. Peale. One is to drive all the way to La Sal Pass near Medicine Lake and park. The other, is to park at the drainage just past the turnoff to Beaver Lake. Both options are viable and the difference in distance is negligable. Alternatively, La Sal Pass can be approached from the west side, but 4WD and high clearance is required. La Sal Pass is just over 10,000 ft and the peak is readily accessible. It is a short, but steep hike of about 3 miles to the top of Peale.
Mt. Peale is in the Manti-La Sal National Forest. No permits or summit fees are necessary. Low impact camping and travel should be exercised.
Mt. Peale is generally climbed in the summer months. The ideal time to climb is late May into mid-June while snow is still in the couloir. The average summer temperatures above 10,000 ft are in the 60's and 70's degrees Farenheit. The La Sals provide a cool haven from the scorching, summertime desert heat. Snow may remain at higher altitudes until mid summer. Late spring and early summer will require an ice axe and crampons for ascent and safety. The main route ascends a coulair for 1300 ft that retains snow into summer months. The conditions of this couloir vary from year-to-year and day-to-day during early late spring and early summer.
Low-impact primitive camping is permitted, as well as small controlled camp fires and small stoves are preferred. For more information contact: Moab Ranger District 2290 S West Resource Blvd Moab, UT 84532 (435) 259-7155