There are so many things to go and see in Snake Valley that you might have a hard time deciding what to do first. Here are some ideas:
Great Basin National Park
Visit 4,000 year-old bristlecone pines, backpack in a national park in solitude (not so easy to do these days), tour heavily decorated Lehman Cave, cool off at a 10,000 foot high campground, or climb even higher to top out on Wheeler Peak at 13,063 feet. Great Basin National Park encompasses 120 square miles of the South Snake Range and contains many different habitats as you move up in elevation. Winter activities include snow shoeing and cross-country skiing.
Mount Moriah Wilderness
Mount Moriah Wilderness is located in the North Snake Range and is administered by the U.S. Forest Service. Mount Moriah is the highest point at 12,067 feet, and below it spreads a high-elevation plateau called The Table, home to many bristlecone pines and bighorn sheep. It's possible to drive up near the Table from Spring Valley, but on the Snake Valley the wilderness boundary is lower, affording backpacking opportunities in several canyons. Trails lead up Hampton, Hendry's, and Smith creeks and Horse Canyon.
Deep Creek Mountains
The Deep Creek Mountains are north of the Snake Range, and in the early days of exploration were overlooked for inclusion into the Forest Service. Today they are managed by the BLM and a large part of the range is part of a wilderness study area. The highest peak is Ibapah Peak at 12,050 feet, and it is a longer and more difficult hike than Mount Moriah or Wheeler Peak. From the top you can see along the ridge (see photo) to the north to Haystack Peak. Several perennial streams sporting Bonneville cutthroat flow from the range. The area called The Basin is scenic and can be reached by a couple different trails/old roads.
Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge
Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge is found just to the northeast of the Fish Springs Mountains in northeast Snake Valley. A large part of the mountain range is part of a wilderness study area. The wildlife refuge is centered around several large springs that provide enough water to support a myriad of bird species, least chub, and frogs. Far from other water sources, Fish Springs is an important oasis for migratory birds, and many other birds breed there or even stay year round. An auto tour route runs along some of the dikes that separate different marshes and provides excellent viewing opportunities.
The Confusion Range runs along most of the east side of Snake Valley. Although it has no perennial streams, the range is an excellent place to go fossil hunting due to large amounts of Mississippian chainman shale. It's been said that the Confusion Range was so named due to its confusing geology. This is prime sheep country and also a fairly reliable place to see wild horses. To avoid getting lost, be sure to take a map of the 127 miles of OHV trails in this area, along with the Conger Mountain Wilderness Study Area.
In other places these hills might be called mountains, but in Snake Valley they seem a bit diminutive near the Snake and Deep Creek Ranges. Nonetheless, they are fun to explore. The roads in the Burbank Hills are designated as off-highway vehicle (OHV) routes, with maps available. It's also a great place for mountain biking and fossil hunting.
Gandy Warm Springs
Gandy Warm Springs is located 30 miles north of the Border Inn at the foot of Gandy Mountain. The 82 degree Fahrenheit water pouring out of a cave and a series of springs is definitely warm, not hot, but is relaxing any time of the year. The springs are home to an endemic springsnail as well as tiny minnow-like speckled dace.
Crystal Ball Cave
Located close to Gandy Warm Springs is Crystal Ball Cave, which is filled with nailhead spar, a type of crystal that makes you feel as if you are hiking through a huge geode. The tour through the cave is primitive, so bring a good flashlight and sturdy hiking shoes. Tours are by reservation only; contact Jerald or Marlene Bates at (435) 693-3145.
Crystal Peak is so-named due to its glowing color when the sun strikes it. It is made of volcanic tuff (Tunnel Springs Tuff) and rises in the southeastern corner of Snake Valley. Two main ways exist to reach Crystal Peak. If you are in the Garrison, Utah area, take Highway 159 (the one that connects to the Border Inn), and about a mile north of Garrison a sign directs you to the east on a good gravel road. Crystal Peak is about 30 miles away. If you are further north in Snake Valley, you can take US Highway 6 and 50 east until mile marker 16 and then take the gravel road to the south. If you plan to hike to the top of the peak, the easiest route is from the southeast side. Water is not available out here.
Looking for some water fun? Head about three miles south of Garrison and you'll find Pruess Lake, also called Garrison Reservoir. Early settlers in the late 1800s dammed a small lake to make it larger. The result today is the largest accessible perennial waterbody in Snake Valley. It is over 20 feet deep in the spring and early summer, but in late summer and fall the depth is probably only about 10 feet deep. Utah chub, Utah sucker, carp, channel catfish, and Sacramento perch make their home here, along with the California floater, a mollusk.
Baker Archeological Site
Baker Archeological Site preserves a Fremont village that was constructed about 700 years ago. Located two miles north of the town of Baker, the BLM has interpretive signs and a picnic area for visitor use. Curbs show the outlines of the buildings. It appears that the Fremont carefully arranged their buildings to make use of sun and moon positions to help determine harvest times and other important dates. This area is extremely dry now, indicating that when the Fremont chose it as their village site, more water was available than today.