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Tushar Mountains
2015-11-03 11 36 03 View southeast towards the Tushar Mountains of Utah from an airplane.jpg
View looking southeast from an airplane
Highest point
Peak Delano Peak
Elevation 12,174 ft (3,711 m)
Tushar Mountains is located in Utah
Tushar Mountains
Tushar Mountains
Location in Utah
Country United States

The Tushar Mountains are the third highest mountain range in Utah after the Uinta Mountains and the La Sal Range. Located in the Fishlake National Forest, Delano Peak, 12,174 ft (3,711 m) NAVD 88, is the highest point in both Beaver and Piute counties and has a prominence of 4,689 ft (1,429 m). Delano Peak is named for Columbus Delano (1809–1896), Secretary of the Interior during the Grant administration. The Tushars receive an ample amount of snow annually even though they are situated within the rainshadow of the Sierra Mountain Range located in California and the Snake Range located in Nevada.

The main part of the range is in Beaver, Piute and Sevier counties. The northwestern corner extends into the southeastern corner of Millard County and the southern end extends into the corners of Garfield and Iron counties.

The Tushars are bounded roughly by I-15 to the west, I-70 to the north, US–89 to the east and U–20 to the south. U–153 crosses the southern part of the range between Beaver and Junction.

Prominent peaks

  • Mount Belknap 12,137 feet (3,699 m)
  • Mount Baldy 12,090 feet (3,690 m)
  • Mount Brigham 11,709 feet (3,569 m)
  • Edna Peak 11,654 feet (3,552 m)
  • Copper Belt Peak 11,358 feet (3,462 m)
  • Circleville Mountain 11,338 feet (3,456 m)

Geology and landforms

The peaks of the Tushars were formed between 22 and 32 million years ago by volcanic activity that included a calamitous explosion that blew off the top of a massive peak. At the cusp of the Great Basin, the range also shares characteristics of the Colorado Plateau Province to the east.

Geologically complex, this area dominated by past volcanism, is composed of lava flows, ash flow tuffs from calderas, volcanic domes, cinder cones, rhyolite, basalt-like rocks, conglomerate, and metals such as gold, molybdenum and uranium. The area contains developed and undeveloped geothermal activity, fluorite, and the hydrothermally-altered rocks of Big Rock Candy Mountain.

The Tushars have at least seven high alpine glaciated canyons, Cottonwood Canyon, North Fork of Cottonwood Canyon, South Fork Basin, The Pocket Basin, Bullion Basin, Beaver Basin and City Creek Basin. All were heavily glaciated during the last ice age.


The Tushars contain a variety of annual and perennial streams that receive their flow from annual snowpack. The entire watershed region is divided into two main watershed locations: Beaver River originates in the Tushar Mountains east of Beaver at the confluence of the South Fork and several other creeks and springs. It drains west past Beaver and Milford and the southern end of the Mineral Range then turns north and disappears into the ground at the Beaver Bottoms near Red Rock Knoll and Black Rock in Millard County. In earlier days it was known for its large number of beaver colonies. Jedediah Smith called it "The Lost River" and Dominguez and Escalante called it "El Rio de Tejedor" (The Beaver River).

The Sevier River, extending 383 miles (616 km), is the longest Utah river entirely in the state and drains an extended chain of mountain farming valleys to the intermittent Sevier Lake. The Upper Sevier is used extensively for irrigation, and consequently Sevier Lake is now essentially dry. Sevier Lake is a remnant of Lake Bonneville, a freshwater lake that covered much of the western and north western portions of Utah.

Some of the more prominent creeks and streams are: Clear Creek, Pine Creek, Beaver Creek, Cottonwood Creek and various other small steams which drain into the Sevier River. All the watershed from the Tushars has a final terminus in Sevier Lake located in western Utah and is part of the Great Basin. No water reaches any ocean from the Tushars.


The Tushar Mountain range is part of a temperate coniferous forest ecoregion. Common trees include ponderosa pine, Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir, subalpine fir, Engelmann spruce, trembling aspen, and Gambel oak. The Tushars contain several old growth stands of pine, some of which are the oldest in the state of Utah.

Plant Communities

Diverse due to elevation change, the Tushars support alpine and sub-alpine vegetation, mountain meadows, dense aspen, sub-alpine fir, Engelmann spruce, five needle pine and some Douglas fir, mountain brush, sagebrush steppe, pinion-juniper woodlands, oak, mountain mahogany, and upland mountain grasslands. The area contains endemic species such as the Tushar paintbrush, as well as rare and sensitive plants. Recent fires in the area, both natural and prescribed, have been of great benefit to vegetation, causing regeneration of Aspen and other species.


Eagle Point ski resort is located on the western slopes and accessed from Beaver. The Tushar range is home to a host of other outdoor pursuits as well. Hundreds of miles of mountain biking and hiking trails wind through the canyons and alpine valleys of the Tushar Range offering back country access. The Tushars are also host to a vast portion of the Paiute ATV Trail system, one of the longest ATV trails of its type in the United States.

Naturalness and other unique features

The area possesses a very high degree of naturalness, palpable solitude, and nearly unlimited opportunities for primitive and unconfined recreation. The area contains a number of unique and special features. The Big Rock Candy Mountain Altered Zone, a site that is of truly national significance and are either unique to or distinctive of the Colorado Plateau. The Altered Zone unexcelled in the Colorado Plateau for showing the effects of hot water or hydrothermal alteration of igneous rocks and the development of clays in the weathering process associated with the late phases of igneous activity. The highly altered, brightly colored rocks associated with a variety of igneous intrusions and extrusions make the area distinct and virtually unique in the Colorado Plateau. Also found are outcrops of strongly jointed volcanic glass in Clear Creek Canyon along the I-70 corridor called the Skinner Canyon Ignimbrites a spectacular development and exposures of columnar joints in the rewelded ash flow tuffs here are almost unique in the Colorado Plateau because of the limited exposures of these types of volcanic rocks.

The Tushars can be easily accessed from several different locations: U.S. 89 through Marysvale, Junction and Circleville; I-15, through Beaver, Utah and from I-70 in Clear Creek Canyon.

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