After the two ATV adventures into the Mineral Mountains last year that I enjoyed during Beaver Adventure Days, Michelle Evans of the Beaver County Travel Council invited me back to take another look. I asked my friend, Bob Brady of Farmington, to come along and I had another ATV adventure in the making.
We were introduced to Phil Bostrom, who guides during the Beaver ATV Jamboree. “What can you show us in the Mineral Mountains that I haven’t already seen?” I asked. “Follow me,” he said, and we rode out from our motel in Beaver.
Crossing over I-15, we turned north and followed the freeway toward Manderfield. We then turned west toward Black Mountain.
Black Mountain is aptly named. Phil took us on a short hike through these big, black boulders. Here, he pointed out American Indian petroglyphs that were chiseled into these big rocks.
We stopped again on the other side of the mountain to view some more. I have seen much of the American Indian rock art in Utah. While there are some similarities in all that I have seen, each is unique and tells a different story. We can only speculate about their meanings.
From Black Mountain, we crossed the valley to the base of the Mineral Mountains and turned south. We followed the base of the mountains until we turned west onto Pass Road and climbed to the summit of Soldier Pass.
Soldiers from Fort Cameron near Beaver built the road for quicker access to Milford and the surrounding area in 1880. It remains a dirt road today with access to the beautiful granite peaks in the Mineral Mountains.
At the top of Soldier Pass, there is a hiking trail to the Granite Peak Reservoir. Phil pointed it out to us, but all we could see were the jagged granite outcroppings. He assured us that nestled in among those pointy peaks was a small natural reservoir. It is only a 20-minute hike to the pond in the rocks.
We continued down the Pass Road and then explored part of the west side of the Mineral Mountains. We saw granite monoliths with vertical lines of erosion that made them look as though they had been clawed by some giant creature. Phil took us by one of these he called “The Sitting Bear.” At the right time of day in the right season, the sun casts a shadow that looks like a sitting bear.
Phil had built our anticipation for a feature he called the “Milford Arch.” When we finally saw it, we realized that his hype had been tongue-in-cheek. The rock stood about man high and it had a hole in it. I guess I am just a sucker for a good natural arch.
We stopped for lunch at the Rock Corral Recreation Area. Two sites feature picnic tables. The one we stopped at had covered tables and restrooms. This site featured some great rock hounding opportunities, including finding smoky quartz crystals, obsidian, garnets, feldspar, pyrite and blue beryl.
The other area was nestled in among some large granite monoliths. At this site, we saw an example of the veins of quartz the rock hounds look for. This site also featured horseshoe pits and a restroom. It looked like a great place to find some peace and quiet.
It was in this area that Phil showed us more American Indian rock art. These pictographs were painted onto the granite boulders. Red in color, they depicted more stories about the “Ancient Ones.” I was interested to see two different types of American Indian art on this ride — the chiseled and the painted.
Leaving the campsite, we made a loop around what Phil called “Big Rock” and started our way back to Beaver. We went back over Soldier Pass and followed Pass Road down into the valley.
At a point where we came to some power lines, we followed them on a trail that followed the pole lines back to town. Along this trail, Phil spotted a golden eagle sitting on the top of one of the poles. The girth of the poles was a reference to the size of the eagle. It was a big bird and we stopped to watch it surveying the ground from its perch.
Reaching town, we finished a ride of about 58 miles through history and beautiful scenery in the Mineral Mountains. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and see what the Mineral Mountains has to offer you.