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The Henry Mountains were the last mapped mountains in the lower 48 and currently home to the largest unmanaged bison heard in the United States. The mountain range was volcanically formed, and still resembles a volcano from a distance. The Henry Mountains are truly unique area; the area is wild, dry, and a stark contrast to the lower elevation desert country surrounding it.
Mt. Ellen is the highest peak in the Henry mountains, as well as being the highest point in Garfield County. At 11,500 ft., it offers a cool and refreshing respite from the often scorching summer temperatures in Hanksville. Despite being such an oasis, it is seldom visited. On my trips, I have never run into another group on the trail, and rarely seen people on the road up. The hike to the summit starts at Bull Pass (10,500), making the summit of Ellen fairly easy compared to other high points. Mt. Ellen is a must do for peak baggers or desert lovers.
There are many ways to get to trailhead at the top of the pass on Mt. Ellen between the north and the south summits. This is what is usually the easiest:
Summit: 3512 m ( 11523 ft. )
Trailhead: 3196 m ( 10486 ft. )
From the trailhead, follow the trail north. It is well defined and easy to follow. After a short section at treeline, it gains elevation and follows the ridge above tree line. Though it looks a short distance away, the peak that is visible is a false summit. Cross 3 minor peaks before reaching the true summit. The pyramid peak to the north (Ellen Peak, as opposed to Mt. Ellen) is only 16 feet lower in elevation, but looks higher from most vantage points.
From the summit, you can see Capitol Reef to the West, Factory Butte and the San Rafael Swell to the North, Robbers Roost to the East, and the Henry Mountains to the south.
Return the same way you came.
12S 517321mE 4215367mN
N38° 05' 09" W110° 48' 09"
12S 516342mE 4217923mN
N38° 06' 32" W110° 48' 49"