Updated Feb. 12, 2010. This has been a very popular post. I first posted it about 3 years ago, and now I have enlarged and updated it. Ralph Maughan
Ah the Tetons, Wind Rivers, Sawtooths and White Clouds, Wallowas, Bitterroots, Beartooth, and Unitas!
I love all the mountains. I decided to do a major photo essay on the little-known and often little-appreciated ranges of the NW Great Basin. I have left out the Wasatch Range, Ruby Mountains, Schell Creek Range, and Snake Range because I think they are much more prominent in the public’s eye.
Albion Range (Southern Idaho)-
This is an unusual range consisting mostly of just two big mountains, Mt. Harrison and Cache Peak (the highest mountain in Idaho south of the Snake River). The range is just east of Burley and Oakley, Idaho. The amazing Silent City of Rocks is at the range’s southern end.
Antelope Island (NW Utah)-
Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake is a classic Great Basin range surrounded by the Lake. The island is a Utah State Park. Bison, elk , deer, and antelope all have been introduced or reintroduced to the island. It also has coyotes and bobcats. Antelope Island is about 20 miles long, and the high point 6596 feet with the mean elevation of the lake 4200 feet. Copyright © Ralph Maughan
Photo on Antelope Island (view to the south)
Antelope Range (White Pine County, Nevada)-
The Antelope Range of White Pine County, Nevada is one of 3 ranges by that name in Nevada. This easternmost one is about 30 miles long, beginning a few miles north of U.S. Alt 93 as a discontinuous series of high hills, and gaining continuity and elevation to the south.The high point is Baldy Peak 9342 feet elevation. The range ends near the northern end of Spring Valley, major Eastern Nevada valley with many springs and much wildlife. The photo was taken at dusk. Copyright © Ralph Maughan
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The Bannock Range (SE Idaho)-
More of my photos of the Bannock Range on Google Earth-
Thundercloud from the Scout Mountain Trail
Moose at a watering trough near Crystal Creek
Garden Creek Gap, a water gap of the ancestral Portneuf River
The Blackfoot Range (SE Idaho)-
Most of the range is private property, so visitor access is not very good to many parts. The topography is complex and varied, although not especially high in elevation. Recently a controversy has developed over a wind farm near Wolverine Canyon. Some folks say it is good clean energy. Others say its size is excessive (10,000 acres) and the proposed 420 foot high windmill towers excessive.
The Black Pine Range (Southern Idaho)-
This is a short, narrow and steep Great Basin type mountain range just north of the Utah border in Idaho.
The Cherry Creek Range. Eastern Nevada.
It’s a 50 miles long range with the Steptoe Valley on the east and Butte Valley on the west. High point is 10,542 feet. Part of it was recently designated a Wilderness Area. Photo from Butte Valley (from the west side). Copyright © Ralph Maughan
Google Earth. Cherry Creek Range from near the ghost town of Cherry Creek (actually it has a few people)
The Clarkston Range (Idaho-Utah)-
The Clarkston Range is a 20-mile range on the Idaho/Utah border. High point is 8244 foot Gunsight Peak. This photo was taken in September from Malad Valley (on the valley’s east side). Copyright © Ralph Maughan
Google Earth. Gunsight Peak from Malad Valley
Cotterel Range (Southern Idaho)-
The Cotterel Mountains are a ten mile long range with a very steep east escarpment in places. They lie where the Raft River Valley opens out onto the Snake River Plain and east of the Albion Range. They and the Jim Sage Mountains to the south (see about them further below) were once called the “Malta Range.” The Cotterels are destined to become a wind farm. Copyright © Ralph Maughan.
The Deep Creek Range of SE Idaho
This is a classic linear Great Basin range about 40 miles long with a wonderful crest zone for cross country walking. The north end of the range rises from the Snake River Plain. Arbon Valley is on the east side and Rockland Valley on its west. Copyright © Ralph Maughan. Don’t confuse it with the Deep Creek Range of Utah (below)
Google Earth of the Deep Creek Range. SE Idaho.
North Fork of Bull Canyon.
A limestone ledge on the shoulder of Deep Creek Peak
Bannock Peak. Telephoto from Arbon Valley (on the east side of the range)
Across Arbon Valley to the Deep Creek Mountains. January 2010
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The Deep Creek Range of Western Utah-
The Deep Creek Range of Western Utah, next to the Nevada border, is a stunning, little known range 50-miles long, with two peaks over 12,000 feet! It has a great variety of rock types and canyons. Above are 2 photos in Granite Creek. March 2007. Copyright © Ralph Maughan.
More of Utah’s Deep Creek Range. Google Earth
East Humboldt Range (Eastern Nevada)-
Hole in the Mountain. East Humboldt Range, Nevada. This tall, glaciated range begins at Wells and presents a high rugged profile for about 15 miles until it becomes lower and fades in the Ruby Valley to the south. Although it is a designated Wilderness area, it is little known, especially when compared to the nearby Ruby Range. Copyright © Ralph Maughan
The Egan Range (Nevada)-
The Egan Range, Nevada is 110 miles long! It is of variable height, but it is always steep. It lies to the SW, West, and NW of Ely on the west side of the Steptoe Valley. Far to the south a semi-detached portion is west of Cave Valley. The photo is at a pond on Duckwater Creek in the Steptoe Valley. March 2007. With two Wilderness areas just designated in the range, perhaps it should not be regarded as obscure anymore. Copyright © Ralph Maughan
The Fish Springs Range (Utah)-
Fish Springs Range, Utah, is a relentlessly desert range, here with the shadows of the Deep Creek Mountains in the photo above, advancing across the Snake Valley. On the NE side of the Range, there is the Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge. The range itself is dry and drier. Copyright © Ralph Maughan.
Fortification Range (Nevada)-
Fortification Range of East Central Nevada. Copyright © Ralph Maughan. Photo taken from Spring Valley (in late winter). This rugged limstone range covered partially by scenic volcanic tuff (tremendous cliffs) is 10-12 miles long and virtually roadless. It’s unnamed highest point is 8268 feet. Much of it was recently designated a wilderness area.
These mountains contain a relict stand of ponderosa pine. They are a remnant of a period long ago when the climate was wetter.
Here are some additional photos of the Fortification Range I uploaded to Google Earth.
The Goshute Range (Nevada)-
The Goshute Range from the east in Nevada near the Utah border. This is a N/S 30 mile long range with no clear distinction between it and the Toano Range to its north. The range is variable, about 7000 to 9000 feet high. It is notable as one of the world’s great raptor viewing sites in the fall (from the top of the range). Copyright © Ralph Maughan
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Granite Range (Nevada)-
The Granite range of northeastern Nevada is an odd range of granite knobs about 15 miles long, south of Jackpot, Nevada (northern Nevada, not far from Idaho). The range has “bookends” of higher peaks of different rock on its north and south ends. Photo copyright Ralph Maughan.
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Grant Range (Nevada)-
Blue Eagle Mountain (above) rises almost a mile from the desert floor of Railroad Valley. However, the high point of the range, Troy Peak, is 1300 feet higher. This is a seldom visited, bold range of huge cliffs, with a Wilderness area around Troy Peak in East Central Nevada. Despite its great height, water is rare due to the porous limestone. Copyright © Ralph Maughan.
Grouse Creek, Goose Creek and Dove Creek Ranges (Utah-Nevada-Idaho)
There is a surprisingly large area of uplands on Idaho/Utah/Nevada border. This includes the Raft River Range as well as the South Hills (see both below).
Three other little known ranges from 15 to 40 miles long run parallel to each other, separated by creeks which serve to name the ranges. From east to west are the Dove Creek Range (in Utah), the Grouse Creek Range (in Idaho and Utah), and the Goose Creek Range in Utah and Nevada.
This Grouse Creek Range is similar and adjacent to the Goose Creek Range and Dove Creek Range.
The Grouse Creek Range is the longest of the three ranges, beginning just south of Oakley, Idaho (there named “Middle Mountain”) and marching south all the way to Utah state highway 30 which crosses just north of the Great Salt Lake Desert/Salt Flats. It becomes increasing arid in its southern portion (see photo above).
Southward along the crest of the Dove Creek Range from near Dove Creek Pass. © Ralph Maughan. Photo May 14, 2008.
Jim Sage Hills (Idaho)-
Here are The Jim Sage Hills of southern Idaho (from the foothills of the Albion Range). These “hills” are a ten mile long extension of the Cotterel Range (see above), but are much less developed. The Western Watersheds Project saved them from “vegetative improvement” by the BLM which would likely have turned them into range with little on them but cheatgrass. Copyright © Ralph Maughan
Knoll Mountain (Nevada)-
Maverick Springs Range (Nevada)-
Maverick Springs Range and Ruby Lake, Nevada. Overshadowed by the famous Ruby Range in Nevada, the much lower Maverick Springs Range rises to the east of Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge (in photo). Copyright © Ralph Maughan.
Newfoundland Range (Utah)-
The Newfoundland Mountains. Copyright © Ralph Maughan from the northwest, looking across the Great Salt Lake Desert. This range, although not high and surrounded by mud flats of the Great Salt lake, can be seen for many miles (esp. the high point, Desert Peak), but is it rarely visited. It is rugged and has some interesting rock erosional features. No water reliable water. Bighorn sheep were reintroduced to these mountains in January 2008.
North Hansel Mountains (Idaho)-
The North Hansel Mountains are a highly dissected range between Idaho Highway 38 and Interstate 80 northeast of Snowville, Utah. The most unusual thing about these mountains may be large number of earthquakes that occur under them and adjacent Pocatello Valley to their east (this is not the site of the city of Pocatello, Idaho). Set Google Earth to show earthquakes and you will be impressed. Copyright © Ralph Maughan.
Pilot Range (Nevada-Utah)
The Pilot Range runs N/S right along the Utah/Nevada border, and is noted mostly for tall Pilot Peak (10716 feet elevation), a landmark for wagon trains heading across the Great Salt Lake salt flats. Here is a lower part of the range near its north end, taken from the Tecoma Valley in Nevada. March 2007. Copyright © Ralph Maughan
Pleasantview Hills (Idaho)-
The Pleasantview Hills (here 18mm wide-angle from Arbon Valley) seem like an attractive possibility when you study the map and think of places to go. Also called the “Blue Spring Hills” on some old maps, they have a pleasant aspect from their west side (Arbon Valley, 25 miles south of Pocatello, Idaho.
Guess which side of the fence in the Pleasantview Hills is private land and which is public land “managed” by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management?
Google Earth photo of Wood Canyon in the Pleasantview Hills. This is what happens when a grazed out canyon was closed to grazing for two years.
The Pocatello Range (Idaho)-
The Pocatello Range is on the east side of Pocatello, Idaho. The range roughly “L-shaped” and about 20 miles long, beginning on the Ft. Hall Indian Reservation at the north, and to the south it makes a 90 degree turn at Portneuf Gap and runs 10 miles eastward to merge into the foothills of the Portneuf Range at the town of Inkom. It is a low range with a steep west face. On top, however, it becomes much better watered and consists of rolling uplands and gentle mountains like Moonlight Mountain.
The area on top is filling up with country homes and some controversial sub-divisions, although the decline in livestock grazing has actually led to an increase in wildlife, especially moose.
Portneuf Range (Idaho)-
The Portneuf Range from beneath the basalt cliffs near Marsh Creek in SE Idaho. This 80 mile long range begins at the north on the Shoshone-Bannock Indian Reservation and runs south, forming the east side of Marsh Valley and ending near Red Rock Pass (the outlet of the catastrophic Lake Bonneville food 14,000 years ago). Photo Copyright © Ralph Maughan
The southern part of range is mostly Idaho state school land, not so high or rugged, and some overgrazed. Copyright © Ralph Maughan.
Raft River Range (Utah-Idaho)-
The Raft River Range is very unusual because it runs from east to west, instead of the general north to south that is typical of the Great Basin ranges as well as the Rocky Mountains. This is a moderately tall and fairly large, generally flat-topped uplift on the Idaho/Utah border, not far east of Nevada. Copyright © Ralph Maughan. May 2008. The photo was taken from near Dove Creek Pass on the west side of the range, looking east.
Samaria Mountains/West Hills (Idaho-Utah)
The Samaria Mountains/West Hills. The view here is to the NE from the shoulder of Samaria Mountain. This range marks the west side of Malad Valley, rising abruptly south of the Pleasantview Hills. Copyright © Ralph Maughan. The higher northern part of the range is in Idaho, and the lower part which ends near Tremonton is in Utah (here it is generally called the “West Hills”). Samaria Mountain is about 7700 feet elevation, and it runs E/W, contrary to the rest of the range which runs N/S. If you view the area on Google Earth you find it has a very large number of small to moderate earthquakes and do the nearby Hansel Mountains.
The scenic repetitions of slopes of the West Hills (Samaria Mountains). Copyright © Ralph Maughan. We have just learned that the BLM wants to clear out most of this vegetation, which is not commercial forest, under guise of fire control, but these trees do not extend to the edge of nearby communities.
Silver Island Range (Utah-Nevada)-
The Silver Island Range on the Utah/Nevada border from the Bonneville salt flats (just a little moist!). Pilot Peak is in the distance. Copyright © Ralph Maughan. This is a frequently photographed range (as an unnamed background), but it is rarely discussed.
The South Hills (south of Twin Falls, Idaho area)-
The South Hills (a.k.a. Twin Falls Hills), Idaho is a vast hinterland of rolling ridge uplands, often cut by deep basaltic canyons. They extend from a few miles south of the city of Twin Falls (also nearby Burley, Idaho) southward for about 50 miles into Nevada where they fade into other obscure topography. Copyright © Ralph Maughan.
It is a broad uplift from 15 to 30 miles wide. It is not typical of Great Basin mountains. While not impressive on the skyline, once you are in these “hills” they seem to go on forever with numerous poor roads leading to all kinds of obscure places. The generally basaltic composition of the rock indicates that this is a transition zone between the Great Basin and the Columbia River Plateau to the west. I think of them as the westernmost of the Idaho ‘s Great Basin mountains. Copyright © Ralph Maughan.
This mountain range is so odd, I can’t think of any examples to compare it to.
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Sublette Range (Idaho)-
A mountain in the Sublette Range. This Idaho range rises out of the Snake River Plain and runs southward to about the Utah border. It is not especially high, and has the narrow ridgelines so typical of a Great Basin Range. It is somewhat unique in that is not a narrow linear N/S range, and it is high dissected — many lesser ridges and canyons, giving one inside in range the impression of being in a much larger area. Although it is somewhat overgrazed, it is well vegetated compared to many nearby ranges, especially to the south. Some portions have beautiful wildflower displays in late May and early June. The range is on the west side of Rockland Valley, Idaho. The town of Rockland is small. Larger American Falls, ID is about 10 NE of the range’s beginning. Copyright © Ralph Maughan.
Interstate 84 runs along much of the Sublette Range’s west side. There are no towns adjacent to its west.
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Toano Range (Nevada)-
The Toano Range from the Pilot Creek Valley, Nevada, looking west. This range seems to be an arbitrary name for the northern part of the Goshute Range. There is an obvious break in mountain ranges at Silver Zone Pass through which Interstate 80 passes, but it is called the Toano Range to both the north and south of this low pass. Copyright © Ralph Maughan.
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White Pine Range (Nevada)-
The White Pine Range of southwestern White Pine County rises near the north end of big Railroad Valley. Photo Copyright Ralph Maughan. It is a tall and often very rugged range, mostly made of limestone. Prominent high points are Mt. Hamilton (10,745 ft, 3275 m), Duckwater Peak (11,188 ft, 3410 m) and White Pine Peak (10,182 ft, 3103 m). Currant Mountain (11,513 ft, 3509 m) is the high point of the range. Despite its obscurity, parts of it are now protected by two wilderness areas. One is at the north end and the other at the south. The middle part of these mountains is substantially lower and less rugged.