Silver Island Scenic Byway |

Silver Island Mountains

Roadside Attraction Silver Island Scenic Byway - Silver Island Mountains Roadside Attraction Silver Island Scenic Byway
Silver Island Mountains

Overview | Getting There | Route | Photos | Maps | Comments

Overview

RATING: Roadside Attraction

Fri

85 | 71

Sat

83 | 67

Sun

87 | 66

Mon

90 | 68

Tue

89 | 67

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SEASON: Any when roads are dry. Very hot in the summer. Fall, Winter, Spring preferred.
GEAR: Extra Water, Fuel, Spare Tire
WATER: None anywhere I have found in the Silver Island Mountains. Be sure to bring plenty.

Fri

85 | 71

Sat

83 | 67

Sun

87 | 66

Mon

90 | 68

Tue

89 | 67

View Full Weather Details

The Silver Island Mountains are a small mountain range north of Wendover that are surrounded by salt flats and mudflats on 3 sides. The small range is an island in a sea of flats! The rugged limestone range has a long history. Many of the small overhangs show signs of early inhabitation with either smoke stains, small stone walls, or faint pictographs.

The Donner-Reed party of 1846 left their mark on the range as they crossed mudflats around the north end of the Floating Island and then west between the Silver Island Mountains and Crater Island on what was to become known as the Hastings Cutoff.

In more recent times, the late 1800s and early 1900s, the area saw mining activity. The mining activity left the slopes of the range with some steep jeep roads and pack trails that wind sinuously up to old mines. Mining never proved particularly lucrative, and as the miners left the range in search of the next mineral rush, the nearby Salt Flats became a point of interest for those looking for a place to set speed records.

The 1930s saw the Bonneville Salt Flats come into its own as the place to go to set land speed records. The Salt Flats are at the base of the range on its eastern side. The racers made their marks on the record books, but also the Silver Island Mountains. The peaks are named after prominent people in the Bonneville Salt Flats racing lore.

Today, the range is mostly a lonely, empty place. The scenic byway draws some traffic, but on the many trips I have done to the range, I've never seen more than another car or two, and on most trips, I haven't run into anyone once a few miles down the dirt road. This is a great place to get away from the world.

Notes: The byway is generally a good dirt road, but is prone to small washouts where rains cause flooding across the road. Though cars do drive the road, I would recommend high clearance as the sometimes washboard road and occasional small gully crossings could be really slow and difficult in a low clearance vehicle. Plenty of water, fuel, and a good spare tire is required. I have never had a flat tire out there, but seem to hear from countless others about flat tires on the rocky road.
Camping Notes: There are some good primitive campsites along the route. If you plan on trying to get off the scenic byway on any of the side roads, I would recommend a true four-wheel drive. Many of the side roads are rocky, loose, and have occasional rough spots. Camping sites next to the byway are easier to access but can be dusty if others drive by. I have camped both next to, and away from the byway. Personally, our family enjoys camping near the mudflats and being able to run around on the large flats.
Mud Flat Warning: Finally, many people drive on the mudflats. BE VERY CAREFUL IF YOU TRY TO DRIVE ON THE MUDFLATS. They can often appear solid only to have soft spots and will quickly make a vehicle deeply stuck. The local rescue operation uses a snowcat for floatation on the mud to pull vehicles out, and I have heard it is not cheap! I've seen many deep holes, particularly near the Floating Island where people have sunk at least up to their doors in mud.

Getting There

Reaching the trailhead starts by going north off I-80 at exit 4. This is a few miles east of Wendover, UT, and about 115 miles west of Salt Lake City.

Note: The loop can be driven in either direction, but I find the east side of the range far more interesting and scenic than the west, so describe it in a counter-clockwise direction going up the east side of the range, around the north, and down the west.

Route

Reset Odometer at stop sign off the Interstate (12T 249228mE 4514613mN / N40° 44' 39" W113° 58' 12")
1.2 miles - left onto a paved road. (12T 249287mE 4516575mN / N40° 45' 43" W113° 58' 13")
1.95 miles - Right onto dirt road. This is the start of the Silver Island Mountain Byway Loop. (12T 248454mE 4517420mN / N40° 46' 09" W113° 58' 49")
2.1 miles - Stay right on the main dirt road. (12T 248375mE 4517713mN / N40° 46' 19" W113° 58' 53")
5.25 miles - Sideroad on the left. This is a popular spot to stop. Walk or drive up the road to visit the cave. There is a good primitive campsite or two here. (12T 252071mE 4520466mN / N40° 47' 52" W113° 56' 20")
11.4 miles - Silver Island Pass side road. Stay right on byway. (12T 257616mE 4527437mN / N40° 51' 44" W113° 52' 33")
12.85 miles - Lamus Peak two-track side road on the left. Great views of the mudflats and Newfoundland Mountains on the right. There are a few good campsites along the next few miles of road. (12T 259823mE 4527946mN / N40° 52' 03" W113° 50' 60")
17.2 miles - Jenkins Canyon on the left. (12T 265216mE 4531359mN / N40° 53' 59" W113° 47' 14")
18.4 miles - Cave Canyon on the left. This is an interesting old mining road to explore. (12T 266831mE 4532371mN / N40° 54' 33" W113° 46' 07")
19.6 miles - Silver Island Canyon Road and Graham Peak side road on the left. This is a rougher two-track road that re-joins the scenic byway in about 6.5 miles. Stay straight to stay on the main Scenic Byway. (12T 268487mE 4533386mN / N40° 55' 08" W113° 44' 57")
21.5 miles - Floating Island side road on the right. Scenic byway left. Driving out to the Floating Island is a great side trip and there are many excellent primitive camping sites on the island. (12T 271071mE 4534506mN / N40° 55' 47" W113° 43' 08")
28.9 miles - Pull-out on the left. This is a decent primitive camping spot. An old closed road going south up the limestone walled canyon offers good hiking possibilities. (12T 271110mE 4540427mN / N40° 58' 59" W113° 43' 15")
30.1 miles - Silver Island Canyon Road re-joins on the left. You can see two caves on the left here. They are a short hike from the Scenic Byway or drive the Silver Island Canyon road a short distance (0.8 miles), then walk. The "cave" on the right has collapsed, creating an arch that is visible from the road if the light is right. A really nice short side hike. (12T 269682mE 4541637mN / N40° 59' 36" W113° 44' 17")
32.6 miles - Donner-Reed Pass. Named for the infamous Donner-Reed party. This was their route across western Utah. Their next water stop was the Pilot Range, across the mud flats to the west of the Silver Island Mountains. (12T 266507mE 4543561mN / N41° 00' 35" W113° 46' 36")
32.85 miles - Crater Island side road on the right. (12T 266130mE 4543642mN / N41° 00' 38" W113° 46' 52")
33 miles - Second Crater Island road on the right. (12T 265948mE 4543662mN / N41° 00' 38" W113° 46' 60")
35.75 miles - Caves on the left. (12T 261688mE 4542755mN / N41° 00' 04" W113° 50' 01")
39.7 miles - Campbell Road on the left. This road goes up to the base of Graham Peak and provides an alternate route to the summit from the west side of the range. (12T 257103mE 4538627mN / N40° 57' 46" W113° 53' 11")
42.4 miles - Silver Island Pass side road on the left. This crosses the island and re-joins the scenic byway on the east side. Stay straight. (12T 253999mE 4532508mN / N40° 54' 24" W113° 55' 15")
47.4 miles - Sideroad on the left. Huge boulders just off the main byway make for an excellent campsite/stop. Stay straight on the byway. (12T 251759mE 4527733mN / N40° 51' 47" W113° 56' 43")
49.5 miles - A side road leaves on both sides of the main road. The left side road goes to the base of Rishel Peak. There is good primitive camping off the road toward Rishel and ok primitive camping on the right-hand side road. (12T 249743mE 4525096mN / N40° 50' 19" W113° 58' 06")
51.8 miles - Side road on the left that goes to Volcano Peak. There is good primitive camping in this area along several side roads. Stay straight on the main byway road. It curves around and heads south. (12T 247437mE 4522228mN / N40° 48' 44" W113° 59' 40")
52.9 miles - Leppy Pass - The dirt road joins the paved road as it heads south back down to the start of the loop. (11T 752979mE 4520652mN / N40° 47' 53" W114° 00' 05")
55.3 miles - Back to the start of the loop. (12T 248398mE 4517448mN / N40° 46' 10" W113° 58' 52")

Maps

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