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The Other Colors of Southern Utah: A Guide to Your Wah Wah Mountains

A Canyon is visible with many yellow trees and green shrubs in the foreground. The sun shines directly at the camera.

This is post 1 of 2 in "The Other Colors of Southern Utah."

This blog post series explores a couple of Southern Utah's iconic but lesser known mountain ranges, which offer room to roam for wild animals and excellent recreation opportunities for people. All posts in this series…

A person walks down a mountainside covered in desert scrub, toward the bottom of a valley surrounded by other scrubby mountains.
Photo: Ray Bloxham/SUWA

Tell the BLM you value your Utah public lands

How to get there: The Wah Wah Mountains are located above Pine Valley to the west and Wah Wah Valley to the east. The range is divided into northern and southern sections by Highway 21 which is paved and travels from the cities of Milford to Garrison and eventually to Baker, Nevada.

Why you should go: the local Native Americans named the range after Wah Wah Springs, on the eastern slope of the range. It is reported that Wah Wah means “Good Clear Water” and that the sounds of water could be heard 30 miles away in Escalante Valley. The area contains the oldest known genetic ponderosa pine population in the world (Wah Wah Ponderosa pine haplotype) composed of old-growth stands, scattered groups, and scattered individual trees, including some trees approaching 1,000 years old. Bristlecone pines, the oldest living things on Earth, can be found at 8,000 to over 11,000 feet elevation on many ranges, especially where the soil is alkaline due to limestone. Notch Peak, Swasey Peak and the Wah Wah Mountains are some great bristlecone pine locations.

Wildlife? You Betcha: mule deer, elk, coyote, cougar, golden eagles, northern harrier, ferruginous hawk, redtail hawk, swainson’ hawk, northern goshawk, Cooper’s hawk, American kestrel, burrowing owl, great-horned owl, short-eared owl, great horned owl, and prairie falcon.

Get Exploring

Southern Wah Wahs

Wah Wah Mountains HP (9,393′) is the highest peak in the Wah Wah Mountains. It’s located to the north of Pine Grove Canyon. The area can be reached by getting on Pine Valley Road on the west side of the southern Wah Wahs. The recommended route is from the south but other routes may work too. The summit and the rest of the mountain are covered in trees and shrubs.

 Head of Willow Peak (9,135′) is the second highest summit in the Wah Wah Mountains. It is located in an area of high peaks northwest of Lamerdorf Peak and southwest of the Wah Wah Mountains HP. The peak is west of Head of Willow Creek Spring and Peak 9,066 is to the east. There is a dirt road leading up Rose Spring Canyon from the south to Willow Creek. You could also get to the peak from the north at Pine Grove Road via Burnt Stump Canyon. 

Wah Wah Summit South (8,745′) is located south of Wah Wah Summit on Highway 21. The most obvious route starts from the pass. There may be a dirt road that is a little farther south that you could park at. The north ridge route also goes over another peak along the way.

Lamerdorf Peak  (8,425′) located north of Blawn Mountain in the southern Wah Wah Mountains. It is above two large canyons, Lamerdorf Canyon to the east and Rose Spring Canyon to the west. The peak was named after Charles Lamerdorf. He was a miner who produced charcoal near Lamerdorf Spring during the 1870s for the smelters in the town of Frisco.

Blawn Mountain  (8,432′) The highpoint is at the west end and two other highpoints are on the peaks farther east. Blawn Mountain is south of Lamerdorf Peak and north of The Tetons. The peak was named for Bill Blawn who built cabin near the mountain around 1900. Blawn Wash is on the southeast slopes and Sawmill Canyon is on the southwest slopes.

The Tetons (7,953′) The Tetons are a series of sharply rising peaks in the southern Wah Wah Mountains. These lower elevation peaks are not quite the same as the mountains in Wyoming. Although remote, they are easy to get to with a high clearance vehicle since there is a dirt road off of Jockey Road. It goes right below the two highest points.

Northern Wah Wahs

Wah Wah North (8,980′) is the highest peak in the Northern Wah Wah Mountains. The trailhead is located on a dirt road that is north of Wah Wah Summit on Highway 21. Without a high clearance vehicle, you can park at the pass and hike from there. You’ll see the peak above you to the north. From here it is about 2,000 feet of elevation gain.

Ranch Benchmark (8,918′) is located north of Wah Wah North. The west side of the mountain rises steeply out of the valley. Two routes can be done from the north or south. The northern route, which is probably the easier of the two, goes up Lawson Cove Canyon. The southern route goes up the canyon east of Pierson Cove.

Crystal Benchmark (7,460′) is located south of Crystal Peak. It is more prominent and sits over 1,100 feet above its surroundings. You can use the same trailhead as for Crystal Peak and hike into the valley south of it to get to the mountain. Another route is from Sand Pass but that road is rougher so most people hike from Crystal Pass.

Crystal Peak (7,106’) stands as a unique monument to the historic geothermal activity in the area. It is a giant white geyser tufa cone amidst vast lava fields. There is a route around the backside where scramblers can get to the summit. This hike is a great place to view the Wah Wah Mountains and the Confusion Range across the valley.

Tell the BLM you value your Utah public lands

More posts from The Other Colors of Southern Utah

  1. The Other Colors of Southern Utah: A Guide to Your Wah Wah Mountains, March 7, 2016
  2. The Other Colors of Southern Utah: A Guide to Your Needle Range, March 16, 2016

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