Last Explored Region of the Lower 48 states - Henry mountains

Lessons Learned Outdoors

If you like to cook, you know that salt (the right amount of salt) brings out, or enhances the flavor of food.

In this article we will learn more about how outdoor experiences can bring flavor and perspective to life.

(the video below highlights an exciting story that happened in the area)

Henry Mountains

This region, where the Henry Mountains are located, is the last explored area of the lower 48 states of the United States of America, and is part of what is considered to be the world's great concentration of diverse natural scenic wonders.

I've spent several decades and hundreds if not thousands of hours exploring this entire area, and in doing so, I've had some incredible experiences.

For years I had wanted to explore portions of Utah Henry Mountains and when I finally got that opportunity I walked away from that experience with a new lesson of my own, learned in the outdoors.

Trail of Mt. Ellen and the Henry MountainsMt. Ellen Peak Henry MountainsMt. Ellen Henry Mountains

I ventured to the top of Mt. Ellen, the highest peak in the Henry Mountains, and from that vantage point I could see 360 degrees, all points on the compass.  As I gazed out from that point I realized that I recognized many specific areas that surrounded me, and I could recall unique experiences encountered at each location.

I looked west and could see across Capitol Reef National Park to Boulder Mountain. I remembered being told that many years ago a map-maker (cartographer) accidentally switched names of Boulder Mountain and Thousand Lakes Mountain, just before some new area maps were printed. There are actually 80 lakes on Boulder Mountain, and just a handful of lakes on Thousand Lakes Mountain. So the two mountains are actually mis-labelled. I recalled that Boulder Mountain is also said to be the highest forested plateau in all of North America.

Boulder Mountain Bryce Canyon and Capitol ReefView towards Thousand Lakes Mountain from the Henry Mountains

To the northwest I could see Thousand Lakes Mountain and remember standing atop that plateau, and gazing into the Capitol Reef National Park water-pocket fold.

Both mountains rise over 11,000' and are separated by a valley that has been partially carved by the winding Fremont River which wraps around Thousand Lakes Mountain, down below the Velvet Ridge and then rolls east through Capitol Reef National Park. From there the Fremont River stretches across a high desert and past otherwordly landscapes such as mesas, buttes, terrain that looks like the moon, and terrain that seems similar to the planet mars.

View toward Lake Powell from the Henry Mountains

The the top of the Henry Mountains my eye followed the Fremont River to the town of Hanksville where the Fremont merges with Muddy Creek which comes through the San Rafael Swell.  In Hanksville these two rivers combine to form the Dirty Devil River.

The Dirty Devil River canyons is partially famous as the hideout of the famous train/bank robber Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch gang of outlaws.  

The Dirty Devil River flows into the mighty Colorado River which has carved Glen Canyon and Grand Canyon. As I gazed this direction I thought of various river trips I had experienced on the Colorado, and my forays into the outlaw country of the Dirty Devil.

Dirty Devil River

In 1940's a small number of the pure-bred bison from the Yellowstone herd were relocated on the Henry Mountains. Today this is one of only three free-roaming genetically pure-bred bison herds, on public lands, in the United States.

I've shot photos of the Henry Mountains from many distant points on the compass, and each time it brought to my mind that scientist have identified that the Henry's were created by volcanic magma forced upward from deep in the earth.

Mt. Ellen in the Henry MountainsBuffalo Bison Henry MountainsView toward canyon lands and Arches National Parks from the Henry Mountains

East of the Henry's and beyond the Dirty Devil is Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, the city of Moab, and the La Sal Mountains with Mt. Peale rising to 12,700'.

To the south is Lake Powell with its 2,000 miles of coastline, and I recalled numerous experiences of boating, camping, and exploring in these water-filled canyons.

Lake Powell Utah

Southwest I could see all the way to Bryce Canyon National Park where I had spent time at every time of day, and in every season exploring this 20-mile long series of amphitheaters along the Pansaugunt Plateau.

Bryce Canyon

So why do we recount these locations and memories and what do these points mean from the top of the Henry Mountains?  What are the Lessons Learned Outdoors?

As I stood there reflecting on my experiences with some great people in each of these destinations, like salt, I realized these recollections were enhancing the flavor of my experience on Mt. Ellen.

In our lives, as we climb to the top of our occupations, our athletic endeavors, or musical interests, if we don't appreciate and understand the people around us, then our perspective, of being at the top, may not be very valuable.  If we don't truly come to know people, or have meaningful experiences in our surroundings, then we'll never know the rich flavor of life that comes from appreciating everything that has enhance our lives.

Capitol Reef National Park and Henry Mountains

Perspective is gained from quality experiences. Synonyms to the word perspective are...

  • Attitude
  • Context
  • Viewpoint

As we ascend to greater abilities, we'll have a far greater appreciation for the effort we've put into our climb and for the people who have helped us. Of course we always have more good steps to take. Just as the right amount of salt can enhance the taste of food, our experiences will season and positively enhance our perspective.

Take the time today, to better know and appreciate, someone in our lives.