Great Basin Region

Proposed Wilderness in the Great Basin Region

Click on the image above to view a gallery of the Great Basin Region.

The Utah portion of the Great Basin, also referred to as the West Desert, occupies the entire western half of the state, and among the wilderness areas proposed here are an astounding array of wholly unique mountain ranges.

Notch Peak of the House Range rockets 2,700 feet into the sky, its west face a sheer wall of thrusting gray and white limestone. On its bare shoulder, the gnarled trunks of bristlecone pines, the oldest living species on earth, lean into the wind nearly 10,000 feet above sea level.

In the Deep Creek Range, hard white fins of granite guard both alpine cirques and deep desert canyons—the former harboring the only alpine tundra in Utah’s entire portion of Great Basin.

The Fish Springs Range, adjacent to the lavish marshes of Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge, hosts an extraordinary array of mammals and birds, and where other ranges’ summits break bald from their tree line, these peaks are crusted with juniper trees boasting trunks more than eight feet in circumference.

The graben valley of the proposed Rockwell wilderness are framed by gently shifting sand dunes and support a unique four-wing saltbush, Atriplex canescens, found nowhere else.

The Confusion Range is the largest remaining wild area in Utah’s Basin and Range, and its King Top area has been identified by the Bureau of Land Management as having one of the world’s most important collection sites for fossils.

Farther south, in the Wah Wah Range, Crystal Mountain blares bright white against the sky—the last remnant of the volcanoes that preceded the basin and range faulting that now characterizes the region.

Encompassing each of these unique islands of ecology is more than salt flats and sand: there are stark places like Tule Valley, one of the few basins between the mountains that is still roadless, or the Barn Hills—with its broadly sweeping grasslands and pinyon-juniper benches—places that allow the necessary migratory movement of pronghorn antelope, mule deer, and the black bear, mountain lion, bobcat, and coyote that follow them.