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Skull Rock Pass

I've been exploring parts of Utah for many years, and it still took me decades to first discover the incredible nature and beauty of this area called the Western Dessert (west as far as Utah is concerned). My first hint was a Flickr Group dedicated to Utah's Western Dessert photos. There are no National Parks here or National Monuments, and I think it's good this way, just lots of BLM land with plenty of hard surfaced gravel roads, and at least one dry lake bed, that are a thrill to run along on a bicycle.

US6 over Skull Rock Pass is one of the few paved roads that goes through this area. Skull Rock Pass is one of two paved summits between Lake Sevier and the Nevada border. It makes an excellent starting point to discover other unpaved roads in the Western Dessert, and a great ride on its own. It's not always just the size that makes a mountain pass interesting. This one is small and gentle by any standard, and an unusual, austere, spectacular scenic marvel all the same (but only if you are into desserts in a deep way).

1.(00.0m,4520ft) START-END WEST: low point on US6 in Tule Valley
2.(07.7m,5240ft) TOP
3.(16.4m,4560ft) START-END WEST: low point on US6, close to Sevier Lake shore


From East.
The open road slowly, almost inperceptively climbs ever so slightly above the shimmering haze, that is Sevier Lake. It crests in a wide sweeping turn

From West. (also desribed upwards) At the low point between this summit and the next unnamed summit to the west on US6 (which is actually quite a bit higher) the road transitions from following a twisting canyon to something drawn with a ruler, as if trying to resemble the mountains around this valley. The road is going to go over a low flank of the House Range. The highest peak of this range forms a sheer wall, called Sawtooth Mountain, and it's hard to take your eyes off it, especially in late evening light. For a closer look the unpaved Thule Valey road runs along to the north. Riding that, you also discover that this is a wilderness study area, which would make me happier if they wouldn't keep bicycles out and horses in.

cLiCk on image , arrows , or thumbnails to advance slideshow

Dayride with this point as highest summit:


( < Wheeler Peak Scenic Dr(ow) | Thompson Pass > )

Skull Rock Pass x2 , additional out and back: unlabeled road, short distance north of US6, east of House Range > down this road > US6 west > Skull Rock Pass > Thule Valley Rd north > unlabeled road south back to US6 > US6 east > out and back on Tule Valey Rd south or parallel on dried lake bed > US6 east > Skull Rock Pass <> short out and back on 3c Rd south > back ot starting point:59.0miles with 1840ft of climbing in 5:05hrs (garmin etrex30 m3:19.11.12)
Notes: first exploratory ride in Utah Western Dessert - definitely a place to come back to in the future. On Thule Valley Rd south I met Trey A., the only other person on this dessert road today. He was here practicing his solo climbing skills on boulders in a renowned climbing area along South Thule Valley Rd. He also had a fat tire bike along on the roof. And so we rode north on the Thule Valley Hardpan, a dried lakebed - easily the most enjoyable part of the day. Lots of talk about his past ride from Oklahoma to Columbia, among countless other topics. He is on his way to winter in a climbing area in California.