Boulder Mountain is in a way responsible for much of the beauty of the Escalante Canyons and is also one of those serene locations that allows you to appreciate the beauty of these canyons from a different perspective. Boulder Mountain is a major factor in why this area is the way it is from the geology, to the biology to the people.
Boulder Mountain, which is part of the Aquarius Plateau, is quite unique. Instead of a peak, Boulder Mountain is a flat top. The top is roughly 70 square miles of gentle terrain covered with forests and meadows. Many of the meadows cover several square miles. Boulder Mountain is the highest plateau in the United States and also the highest forest. The high point of 11,320 feet is a mere 100 feet above the surrounding meadows. Most of the mountain was at one time or another covered with glaciers that gorged out numerous depressions, which have become lakes.
The mountain, being a high spot in the geography of southern Utah, has an impact on the weather. Summer and winter storms build over the mountain. Laden with precipitation the storms drop much of their rain and snow on the top and shoulders of the mountain. Boulder Mountain is an immense 70 square mile rainwater harvester. The moisture that lands on top flows into the lakes and seeps deep into the mountain. The result is springs that surface on the shoulders of the mountain and in the desert, creating several perennial creeks that flow off the mountain and empty into the Escalante River. This water when combined with the seasonal monsoons that cause flash floods are the canyon carvers of the region.
The moisture from the mountain, whether from direct precipitation or from seeps and springs helps the forests and meadows on the top and shoulders of the mountain to thrive. Vast expanses of ponderosa forest, aspen groves and sub alpine forests flourish all across the mountain. The meadows are fertile ground for a variety of grasses and wildflowers. One of the tastiest treats found on the mountain is the patches of wild strawberry – small but full of flavor. And of course, along with rich vegetation comes the plethora of animals that thrive on the vegetation, from the small rodents like mice and chipmunks to the ungulates like dear and elk to the predators like bobcats, bears and mountain lions. This mountain is a healthy environment for all of nature’s higher elevation beings.
All the richness of the mountain is what attracted the first settlers to the Boulder area. The ranchers from northwest side of the mountain brought their cattle and sheep onto the top and eventually found the fertile ground on the southeast side. Routes were blazed that allowed the livestock to come down to the meadows below the rim of the escarpment. First come the cowboys, then come the livestock and then come the families and eventually a settlement evolves – Boulder Town.
Boulder Mountain boasts some amazing view points. Though driving the highway provides great views, the truly spectacular views are rewarded to those who travel on foot, for no roads come close to these views. Hiking Boulder Mountain is a splendid alternative to the desert, particularly in the heat of mid summer. The aspen groves provide the most vivid display of colors in the fall. We will design a hike that meets your interests and your desired level of hiking. What ever your interest for exploration or the season for hiking this mountain is sure to satisfy.
Let’s Hike, Explore, and Discover!