Fourth in a series of off-highway vehicle (OHV) articles by Lynn Blamires feature writer for My Local Utah
People find many reasons to take Interstate 80 west to Wendover. There is even a “Fun Bus” that will take you there. However, I have found a better reason to go and that has to do with the OHV trails in the Silver Island Mountains just east of Wendover. This is another in a series of articles giving information to new riders on where to ride.
One of the things I like best about these trails is that they present excellent early spring opportunities to ride. I have ridden these trails as early as February and found temperatures that make great riding weather. It is important to watch your weather apps. If you can find even 45-degree temperatures in Wendover, you will enjoy the ride in these desert mountains. By early afternoon, I have seen temperatures in the 60’s.
I enjoy these mountains because they are nothing like the pine and aspen-covered mountain trails I enjoy during the summer months. They are rugged and barren of trees, but beautiful in a rough majestic way.
To enjoy these trails, take Interstate 80 west to exit 4 and go north. This is the Bonneville Speedway Road and turns right at the first junction and out to the place where the speed records are set. The road to the left is the Leppy Pass Road and it will cross the Silver Island Loop Road. Stay on the pass road for a short distance and see an excellent staging area on the right.
From the staging area, you can ride the loop road around the base of the mountain range. This will give you a feel for the mountain range and you will find points along this road where a trail will take you up and into the mountain itself. These mountains are laced with trails that are fun to explore.
Ten major peaks make up The Silver Island Mountains with Graham Peak being the highest at 7,563 feet. That isn’t very high by Wasatch Front standards but this range stands out because everything around it is so flat. I found it interesting that of the ten peaks in this range, three of them are named “Peak.”
Following the loop road around to the east side, there is a cave in the rock that is big enough to stop for a lunch break and fit a dozen or so people. The views across the Salt Flats from here are amazing because you can see nothing for miles.
A historic marker on the north side of the loop road indicates the route known as the Hastings Cutoff. Gold rush pioneers and the Donner-Reed Party passed through here on their way to California. The Hastings Cutoff starts at Fort Bridger and shaved 300 miles off the trip to California. However, it involved a perilous 90-mile waterless trek across the Great Salt Lake Desert sand dunes and mud flats in mid-summer heat. Many of those heavy wagons didn’t make it.
Also on the loop road on the north side, there is a trail that will take you toward the Pilot Peak Mountains. Pilot Peak is the fourth highest peak in the mountainous state of Nevada rising 10,719 feet above sea level, but only 5,725 feet above the desert floor. It was named by John C. Freemont on his third expedition while searching for a shorter route to California.
As you ride the loop road, you will notice trails that go toward the mountains. Many of them are dead ends, but one called The Silver Island Pass Road goes over the mountain range, from east to west and connects with the loop road on the other side.
I have enjoyed exploring some of the dead-end trails because they have taken me up to viewpoints and interesting places on the mountain range that I couldn’t have enjoyed from the road at the bottom. Some of these include Prospect Road, Campbell Road, and Aurora Road.
One point of interest is Danger Cave located on the south side of the mountain range. While it looks unremarkable it is one of the most famous and significant archaeological sites in all of North America. It can only be entered by scheduling a tour. Click here to see and learn about its significance and schedule a tour.
There is much to explore in The Silver Island Mountains on an OHV. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down, and ride out there and see what you can find.