Located 45 miles west of Salt Lake City, the Cedar Mountain Wilderness comprises a typical north-south Great Basin range. The area is generally accessible year-round and offers open-country hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, hunting, photography, and nature study amid rolling sagebrush-grassland benches, steep juniper woodland slopes, and rugged limestone outcrops. On the east side of the mountains the main ridge breaks into sheer cliffs. Surrounded by desert playas, these mountains rise from a low point of 4,200 feet to 7,700 feet and offer outstanding views of the Great Salt Lake basin and the high peaks of the Wasatch. The arid high desert environment supports a surprisingly diverse population of wildlife including wild horses, mule deer, upland game, raptors, snakes, lizards, coyotes, badgers, and mountain lion. Benches and valley floors on both the east and west side provide year-round habitat for antelope. Bighorn sheep may occasionally wander through from nearby ranges. Temperatures range from the upper 90s/low 100s in the summer to below freezing in the winter. This Wilderness receives about 15 inches of annual precipitation and snow level in the winter is generally above 5,000 feet. Spring and fall are ideal seasons to visit.
The Hastings Cutoff route of the California National Historic Trail passes through the Cedar Mountains at 5800' Hastings Pass. This route was pioneered by government explorers Kit Carson and John Fremont in 1845 and later used by overland emigrants including the infamous 1846 Donner-Reed party and the 1849 Gold Rush. Mountain man Jedediah Smith barely survived his epic journey through the area in 1827 while returning from California. Goshute Indians have called the area home for centuries.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Cedar Mountain Wilderness Area.
South of Interstate 80 approximately 50 miles west of Salt Lake City. Take Exit 70 at Delle to access the east side boundary road. Take Exit 56 at Aragonite to access the west side boundary road.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.
National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 - Public law 109-163 (1/6/2006) To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2006 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year.
National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 - Public law 114-328 (12/23/2016) To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2017 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes.
The Cedars Mountains do not have designated trails, trailheads, or campsites. Signs and visitor kiosks are found along boundary roads only. Travel is generally over open, unconfined terrain. Topography consists of rolling benches rising to steep slopes with shallow canyons. Vegetation consists mostly of grassland, sagebrush, and scattered juniper woodlands. Heavy timber is not present. Cattle grazing occurs from November to May each year.
Hiking, climbing, backpacking, horseback riding, hunting, wildlife and wild horse viewing, nature photography, and touring the Hastings Cutoff on the California National Historic Trail. Follow in the footsteps of Fremont, Kit Carson, the Donner party, and many pioneer emigrants over Hastings Pass.
Climate and Special Equipment Needs
This is an arid, high desert environment typical of the Great Basin. Natural water sources are limited to a few brackish springs and seeps. Most available water has been piped to troughs for livestock grazing which can be used but come prepared to treat any water found or bring your own supply. Temps range from the upper 90s/low 100s in summer to below freezing in winter. Snow level in the winter is generally above 5000 feet. Spring and fall are ideal seasons to visit.
Safety and Current Conditions
Between June and September, check with BLM for current fire restrictions. Access to the area is over periodically-maintained dirt roads that can become very muddy and impassable during wet weather. High-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended. Attempting to drive over Hastings Pass or Rydalch Pass during inclement weather is not recommended. Cell phone coverage is usually fair to good in most locations.
Want to Volunteer for Wilderness?
Citizens who volunteer their time to steward our wilderness areas are an essential part of wilderness management. Contact the following groups to inquire about volunteer opportunities.