What a great weekend. My wife and kids flew to
On my first New Year’s Eve in
In the spring of 1996, duly planning to check
1) Drive I-80 out past Delle, then drive North across the Air Force Range to Lakeside, a railroad siding at the Western shore of the Great Salt Lake, then follow the dirt road next to the tracks for ~25 miles due West before crossing the tracks and driving to the range on a rough 4WD track. The problem with this route was Union Pacific, who owns the causeway, and doesn’t allow trespassing. According to the ranger, they patrol the causeway with a private cop.
2) Drive I-80 all the way West to Wendover, then follow dirt road up Northeast into the Silver Island range, then drive ~20 miles straight across the Salt Flats to the range. This route is only feasible- if ever- in late summer, when the salt/mud flats are baked dry hardpan. The problem with this route is that you have no way of knowing if it really is baked hardpan until your vehicle breaks through a muddy spot, at which point you are irrevocably stuck in an extremely remote place, from which you will never, ever, ever get a tow… And even if you did succeed in getting across, summer is the last time you’d want to be out in this low-altitude desert range.
Neither of these options sounded very appealing. I even noodled around with a mtn-bike-based variant of option #2, but that didn’t seem practical either. And so my resolution languished…
But over the intervening years I spoke with a couple of people who claimed to have visited the range, or knew of someone who had, always via option #1, and always without incident. In the meantime, the range taunted me. It’s a hard range to get even a glimpse of- you can see the Southern end on a clear day from the car window when driving to Wendover, and I’d had occasional great views of the range from other expeditions- climbing Pilot Peak (NV) in 2002 (Pictured left: view of Newfoundland Mtns from Pilot Peak, 10/2. It's the 2nd range, in the distance) and mtn biking in the Grassy Mtns in 2004.
About 2 weeks ago, my wife decided to take the kids East back to see her Mom for the weekend. Her Mom’s in poor health, and she’s worried they might not see her again. So, on somewhat short notice, I had a free weekend. But I’d already planned on a bike race Saturday morning, so a full-on,
So Saturday morning I headed out to the airport for my chilly race, then returned home, swapped vehicles, and headed West.
Tangent: The race was Hell of North, the traditional season-opener race in
How to Access
Rather than a blow-by-blow of how I figured out how to get to the
First, this place is unbelievably remote. If you try this, take a 4WD vehicle in perfect operating condition, with spare tire, plug kit, compressor and full tank of gas. Take plenty of food and water. I also always take a mountain bike along with water and tools sufficient to pedal my way out if needed. If your vehicle breaks down or gets stuck out here, it is likely that you will never retrieve it.
Second, this access involves trespassing. I don’t know how actively the causeway is policed, nor do I know the penalties involved, but discretion and speed are in order. I recommend driving it with headlights off. (On my return trip I saw an oncoming train in the distance as I approached the tracks. I pulled behind a low rise and waited till it had passed, not wanting to chance the engineer radioing ahead my presence…)
Third, if you hike in the range, use extra care. Rescue is close to impossible, and the rocks on or near the upper ridges are- like in so many
-Take I-80 West to exit #62. Drive North on paved road for about 14 miles until you reach a sign warning that the Air Force installation is about 2,000 feet ahead. At this point, a well-graded dirt road forks off slightly to the right. Take it.
-The dirt road is a
-At Lakeside, cross the tracks and turn left on the single-lane dirt road paralleling the tracks (pictured right.)
-Follow the tracks for 24.8 miles. The first ~5 miles is slow-going, then the road improves a bit. It’ll take you an hour-plus to cover this part. This is the trespassing part, so don’t dawdle. At times the roadway is littered with sharp rocks, so be careful to avoid a flat tire.
-At about mile 11, you’ll pass the pumping station (pictured left), built 25 years ago to lower a rising
-At about mile 23.5, you’ll come to an older, disused crossing of the tracks. Don’t take it. (on the side of the rail here is written “NEW XING 1 MILE ->”). At mile 24.8 is a good crossing (pictured right, looking back after crossing) with extra RR ties filling in the space between the tracks.
-From the crossing, drive South to a junction, the left/East. Follow the road through several intersections around the low knob at the extreme Northern End of the range, then contour around and South along the East side of the range. At about 8 miles from the RR tracks you’ll come to a fork to the Right/uphill which is a rough 4WD trail leading up into
thank you for these posts on the Newfoundland Mountains! Since you seem familiar and also apparently used trial and error to get there, I was wondering why the route shown by Google Maps doesn't work. Other sources have said the same as you, that you have to take the long, semi-restricted drive with a reliable four-wheel drive vehicle. I'm just wondering, why not this way: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=newfoundland%20mountains%2C%20utah&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wl
Thanks, and happy exploring!
Oops. Try this link instead
Hi Andy- I think Google maps is taking some liberties there; I'm about 90% certain that route shown in your link doesn't exist. The straight line North from I-80 leads to the toxic incinerator (which I'm pretty certain is closed to public) and the meandering NW route from there to the Southern end of the NF range crosses mud flats across Air Force range. Neither Delorme atlas or BLM maps show a road there.
I really like your blog 'Watching the World Wake Up' and I really love camping and the outdoors. I went to the Newfoundland Mountains a few days ago, using the route that you listed, and it went great! I called the DWR and they said that the route is OK to use. I like the quietness of the area, and hope to return soon!
Thanks so much!
Chris- Glad you made it out there and that my directions helped. And also glad to hear that DWR says the route is OK- thanks for the comment.
You're right, it's a wonderful area. I haven't been out since doing the post, but hope to return in the coming year and explore further South in the range.
The route posted by Andy goes directly through the Air Force Range. You cannot legally go through there and probably wouldn't want to anyway. A lot of things fall from the sky out in that area. If you know what I mean! Who knows, maybe I'll catch you out there someday!!
Oh, the road highlighted does exist. We use it to get out to the southern tip of the Newfies when we do camera and sensor inspections.
My brother and I went out there last winter via Lucin, past the sun tunnels and parked just past Little Pigeon Mt. We were hoping to get across the flats on our ATVs when it was frozen. About four miles out it turned to peanut butter and we were lucky to turn around and back track out. We had out back up plan to use the railroad. We headed back west, then north and found a way up and onto the road. We went as fast as we could to the crossing at the north end of NFL. There was a foot or so of snow and it was really foggy. We did see the cool rock formations on the West side, but never made it to the East side because of time. I know the guy at the Lucin airport and he tried to talk us into going back out there and trying again this past summer when it was dried up. I still think a crossing in the drainage area on the west is risky, even on an ATV, but I would like to try it again. We took a lot of equipment to get unstuck, but its always risky. You better have Verizon if you head out there and even then coverage is scanty. We are planning another trip out there sometime because I really want to see it when it's clear. So glad we had the GPS in the fog! We did have a train pass us coming back when we rode back to Lucin, but no cops came. Pretty nerve racking going 50 MPH on an ATV with a train going the opposite direction right next to you (on a snowy road with your goggles icing up constantly). Awesome adventure though, loving being out in remote places like that. There is some short video footage on my site at http://www.ayemax.com/. Be patient for the video to download, might take a minute. The rock formations on the West side of NFL are awesome, never seen anything like them before. We also made a trip out to Stansbury last year, also an awesome place. For years I've looked across the lake and wondered about what is on the other side...now I know! (Except for the USAF bombing range.)
My brother and I went out there last winter via Lucin, past the sun tunnels and parked just past Little Pigeon Mt. We were hoping to get across the west flats on our ATVs when it was frozen. About four miles out it turned to peanut butter and we were lucky to turn around and back track out. We took our alternate route to the causeway, went as fast as we could to the crossing at the north end of NFL. It was really foggy, but we did see the cool rock formations on the West side, but never made it to the East side because of time. I planned to try the flats again when its dry, but didn't get time. The drainage area on the west is risky, even on an ATV, but I would like to try it again. We took a lot of equipment: rope, winches, anchors. You better have Verizon if you head out there; even that coverage is scanty. So glad we had the GPS in the fog! We did have a train pass us coming back when we rode back to Lucin, but no cops came. Pretty nerve racking going 50 MPH on an ATV with a train going the opposite direction right next to you (on a snowy road with your goggles icing up constantly). Awesome adventure though, love being out in remote places like that. Short video of our adventure: http://www.ayemax.com/. Be patient for the video to download. The rock formations on the West side of NFL are awesome, never seen anything like them before.
ive also wanted to get out on the mountains for a while, but I have planned on coming from the north east, on google earth it looked like there was somewhat of a trail to the mountains from a near mtn range, i was planning on taking i 84 to snowville and hwy 30 out near park valley and south on dirt roads to the railroad grade
Just summited desert peak with my sons.
If you are thinking of hiking to the peak please take paper for the log. I did not have any and we used half of the last page.
Hard hike in some desolate country. Snowed on us the last night.
I'm interested in this range and the associtated mines and ghost towns. I attempted it on a two stroke desert motorcycle (IT490) from the northeastern most outcropping of Silver Mtns?, to the north end of the NFL range. I mapped it at 23 miles across the salt flats. At about 18 miles I hit salt water and had to abandon this route. That was in 1991. Now that I'm approaching retirement, I'm going to attempt it again from the Lucin side. Your information has been very helpful.
Cartucho- glad I could help. Safe travels!
I was curious if would be prudent to bring a travel trailer out there using the I-80, military exit, railroad maintenance causeway road, Newfoundland mountain turn-off. I know I couldn't get it too close to the mountains but would park on the flats and use a four wheeler to explore. My wife and I are a few years past tent camping.
The railroad caseway is patroled, they don't want you out there. A word to the wise, din't use the caseway!
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