Raft River Mountains, Utah
Bull Mountain, Bull Lake Cirque, Great Basin
40 miles out and back
Bring your own. The mountain is mostly dry. There are a few streams in the lower portions.
Yost Trail Head:41.92150N, 113.56358W
Park Valley Parking:41.81516N, 113.52259W
Bull Lake Cirque:41.91154N, 113.36141W
Bull Mountain is a great destination for pretty views and solitude. This trek covers the off road route. There is also a great hiking route starting at the Clear Creek Campground. This is a very nice Sawtooth National Forest Campground that is completely free. Its an awesome place to camp whether you are hiking or trailering to Yost. The Mountain is in extreme northern Utah on the Idaho border. In fact part of the drive in is in Idaho before crossing back into Utah. Bull Mountain is the high point of Box Elder County at just under 10,000 feet. You wouldn’t believe that it is taller than any mountain north of Salt Lake City with the exception of Naomi Peak in Logan. If you have ever been in the area of Park Valley you would think this would be a barren ugly mountain. This is not the case as there are beautiful forested areas with huge cliffs. Bull Mountain is a huge plateau that stays above 9,000 feet for several miles and has no distinctive peaks. If it weren’t for a small marker you would never be able to pick out the high point. This trek will cover the road that begins in Yost. Yost is a tiny town on the north side. I also included the Park Valley side coordinates. We have done this route once but I don’t think its quite as pretty and is steeper and more rough. There is also access from the east side but I have not tried this route and know nothing about it. While here there is a lot of private land. Parts of the road are even on private land that the owners allow our use on. Please respect these boundaries because access in private areas is a rare treat and could easily be ruined for all. After finding a great parking spot you will head south up the canyon. There will be several small water crossings any time of year.
There are many side trails to explore if you have time but I recommend getting to the top first and exploring after because we always like to spend a lot of time at the cirque. You will quickly begin climbing. There are a few exposed areas and steep climbs but none of them are all that technical. The views are spectacular no matter where you look. Here are a bunch of photos showing what you can expect in the first half of the ride. Keep your eyes peeled. Me and my wife had a mountain lion run right in front of us in the canyon and it was awesome to see.
Once on top the trail levels out most of the rest of the way. You will start to see some of the distinctive cliffs of which Bull Mountain has the largest.
We came mid June and even on a low snow year there was a large snow drift. Sometimes this can last into July and may not be passable.
For some reason on top there were thousands of lady bugs covering all the flowers. I had never seen this many.
You will see the Bull Lake Cirque on the north. Make sure you get out and go see the edge because it is an awesome place to hang out for a few minutes. If you look closesly at the first pic you will see me and my wife to give you some scale.
Down in the bottom is Bull Lake. It is actually a small spring.
There is a short spur trail that takes you down to the bottom of the cirque where it is a short walk to great views of the scene.
Once back on top there is small cabin. This whole area is on private land that the owners allow us to see. Please respect that. They even let you use the cabin if you call them ahead and schedule it and replace whatever you use. This is also a great place for a picnic. I wish more landowners were like this. Hopefully people stay respectful. Their phone number is in the guest book in the cabin.
Now you can turn around and explore some other trails on your way down if you feel inclined. There are a lot more trails in the nearby Grouse Creek Mountains that can make a great weekend trip out of the area. It is also very close to Wildcat Hills, Devils Playground, and City of Rocks. We also visited early this winter and plowed our way through a couple feet of snow. It made for some more unique views and was a great trip.
This is a really great area. Its far enough out that it discourages the large crowds. Some people don’t love the desert scenery but I have always loved it. The cirque is one of my favorite places and the Clear Creek Campground is a great place to camp and hike.