Wasatch-Cache National Forest

Stansbury Mountains Area

The Stansbury Mountains are typical of Great Basin ranges. They extend south from Timpie for about 30 miles to Johnson Pass (Utah Highway 199). They are oriented north-south and rise abruptly from the desert floor on either side. To the east lie Tooele Valley and Rush Valley with elevations ranging from 4,500 to 5,500 feet. To the east of these valleys are the Oquirrh Mountains with a high peak of 7,100 feet. To the west is Skull Valley where the Skull Valley Indian Reservation is located. The highest point in the range is Deseret Peak (11,031'); several other peaks exceed 10,000'. Most of this area is in the Wasatch National Forest.

The dry, west-facing slope is thinly forested with scattered Utah junipers. Forest covers much of the east side of the range, especially in the canyon bottoms and on north-facing slopes where Douglas fir predominates. The most luxurious vegetation is found in South Willow Canyon.

Included in the Stansbury Mountains Area are recreation sites located along I-80 West to the Stansbury-Tooele exit and south along Route 36 just past Vernon. Heading south out of Grantsville you'll be able to see panoramic views of Tooele Valley, the Stansbury and Oquirrh Mountains, and looking north, the Great Salt Lake. The road you are traveling used to be called the "Sunday Trail" because every Sunday the people of Saint John would travel to Grantsville for church services.

Forest Service Recreation Sites:
To get to the Stansbury Mountains, head west out of Salt Lake City on I-80 for 36 miles and take the Stansbury-Tooele exit, Route 36. Take Route 36 South three miles to Route 138 West. Follow it to Grantsville (ten miles). This will be the last chance to purchase supplies before heading into the mountains. Go through Grantsville to Cooley Street and turn south. Drive five miles to the South Willow Canyon turn-off. Follow the turn-off 3.2 miles to the Forest Service boundary. There are six campgrounds up South Willow Canyon. These are the only developed campgrounds in the Stansbury Mountains. However, there are a number of dispersed recreation sites in most other canyons without facilities.

Recreational opportunities in the Stansbury Mountains include: camping, picnicking, sightseeing, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and hiking. Although the South Willow Canyon road is paved, it is pitted with chuckholes and is not recommended for trailer use.

Commercial facilities can only be found in towns in the area. However, there are some concessions located at Great Salt Lake State Park. Forest Service policy concerning garbage is "Pack it in, Pack it out," so please carry out all you bring in. Forest Service officials patrol the recreation sites and provide assistance to forest visitors.

The Uinta National Forest, Spanish Fork District is the managing agency for the Little Valley Campground located about seven miles south of Vernon. For further information concerning this site, call 801-798-3571.

Other Agency Recreation Sites:
Other agency recreation sites are provided by the Utah State Division of Parks and Recreation and the Bureau of Land Management and are located at the south shore of the Great Salt Lake and 25 miles west of Vernon, respectively. The facilities provided are camping and picnicking sites with tables, grills, toilets, and developed drinking water.

Visitors should be aware of private land in the canyons and secure permission from landowners before entering private property. Although much private property adjoining the roads is posted, refer to Forest Service recreation maps to determine National Forest boundaries.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


park finder
step one
Where are you going?

step one
What do you want to do?

+ More Activities

GEARZILLA: The Gorp Gear Blog

Receive Gear Reviews, Articles & Advice

Preview this newsletter »

Ask Questions