If you are looking for an easy trip from Salt Lake or Utah County with free-roaming horse encounters almost guaranteed, this is your destination. Want to learn more about the horses and history of this incredible mustang viewing area?
Utah is home to 22 herds of wild horses that graze in desert plains and congregate at watering holes. These herds came into existence in the s when domestic horses escaped from local ranchers and settled into lives of freedom. The opportunities for viewing wild horses are plentiful. Embarking on an adventure to track wild mustangs, however, requires planning, patience and self-sufficiency.
Here are five things you need to do to increase the likelihood you will spot these majestic creatures and get the most of your adventure. Make sure you read up on wild horse herds and learn all you can about them to get the most of your trip. The Onaqui Herd in Tooele County is one of the easiest herds to find and view. Wild horse herds are elusive. Unless you know where to look, your mustang-viewing adventure could turn up fruitless. Make sure you read up on wild horse herds and learn all you can about them before you hit the road to get the most of your trip.
Horses travel the same path frequently, and the careful observer will notice worn-down brush and faint trails. Watering holes provide the greatest opportunity to observe natural horse behavior. Although watering holes are a great place to view horses, they are an integral part of the ecosystem, and visitors should observe respectfully and quietly. Limit your time so that mustangs feel comfortable in this vital environment. The Onaqui Herd consists of almost horses: two large packs made up of smaller families. Their roide accessibility makes them renowned as one of the most photographed herds in the United States.
In Western Utah, long, sagebrush-filled basins stretch as far as the eye can see, bordered on either side by rolling, velvety mountain ranges. Mustangs graze in these valleys, seeking the oases that pop up in the sun-parched desert.
Traveling through these dramatic landscapes is often difficult. Unpaved ro climb up and over mountain passes, while the straightaways through the basins lack shade, getting baked in the summer sun. Take the time to map out your route before you leave. Most HMAs are located in wilderness areas or wilderness study areas, so motorized travel is limited to established ro. Many HMA routes are along rough dirt ro that often require 4WD and high clearance so you need to make sure your vehicle is up to the task, or choose a different path. Knowledgeable staff members can provide specific details and maps of the area and may offer valuable insight into recent herd sightings.
Always check for s and close the gate behind you.
Most of the viewing locations are on very rural dirt ro, so making sure you and your vehicle are prepared for the adventure is crucial. While you can visit the Onaqui Herd as a day trip from Salt Lake, other herds are much more remote.
If you decide to plan a longer excursion into the backcountry, be sure to get your car tuned before you leave, and gear up with extra water, food and gas. In addition, check recent weather conditions, especially during the winter or the rainy season. Ro often become washed out and impassable after heavy rains, and in the summer, temperatures can rise to over degrees. These high temperatures are not only dangerous, but they decrease horse activity. Stick to mornings and evenings to avoid the midday heat, to get your best chance at sighting these wild mustangs. Lastly, like any outdoor adventure, tell someone your travel plans and give them a copy of your intended route.
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Horses are prey animals, meaning they are instinctively wary of people. You need to allow them adequate space — at least feet or more — and maintain a respectful viewing distance. It is your responsibility to move if one gets too close. While Mustangs are gentle creatures, they are also quite powerful. If you spook them, they can injure you. Never chase a horse or provoke them for the sake of photos. They will lose their fear of humans if they begin to associate them with food and close human-wildlife encounters can result in injury or death of either the person or the animal.
If you move slowly and speak in whispers, horses will behave more naturally.
If you do end up traveling with your dog, keep them on a leash at all times in the HMA. You want to make sure you are prepared for a successful photo shoot. Shoot on shutter priority mode so that you only have to adjust the ISO as necessary. Most importantly, a telephoto lens can turn a mediocre photography outing into a successful one. In this case, expand the focus point range instead of setting a single focus point.
For fast-moving horses, use autofocus and set your camera to AF-lock. Sunset is a fantastic time to get photos of the herds because these horses are active in the evening. Golden light floods the plains and enlivens the landscape.
As mentioned above, it is very important not to get too close to any of the horses or bother them when you are taking pictures. No matter if you are a wild mustang newbie or a seasoned viewer, witnessing horse herds in the vast deserts of Utah can be an exhilarating experience. So, study up, map your route and then hit the road in search of these elusive animals. Here's a list of the best trails for horseback riding within an hour of Salt Lake City, Utah. Note, these five trails are for those with access to horses and trailers.
Matcha formerly RootsRated is a media platform that connects users with the best outdoor experiences, hand-picked by local outdoor retailers and their networks of local experts. If you plan to take a trip out along the Pony Express National Historic Trail, be sure to do your research. You should take plenty of food and water, good maps, a spare tire and the tools and knowledge needed to change your tire because cell phones are unreliable in the desert.
During dry weather the route can be driven by a four-wheel drive vehicle. In wet weather, sections may be impassable, contact the Bureau of Land Management to inquire about road conditions. For water, carry at least a gallon per person per day, and possibly more if you plan on stopping for some of the hikes or explorations. Lehi, Tooele or Wendover are the nearest supply points, depending on which section of the trail you depart from. It will be an experience you will never forget.
Group Next Group. Written by Rosie Serago. Written by Matcha.
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Pristine sandy beaches, warm water temperatures all summer long and serene mountain views make Yuba State Park an appealing destination for campers and kayakers in sunny Central Utah. Written by Visit Utah. May 10,marked 'Spike ,' the th anniversary of the First Transcontinental Railroad. Visit the Golden Spike site in Promontory for a bit of Utah history. Standing in the Basin and Range topography of Utah's West Desert at ghost town Frisco, you'll feel the solitude of the space.
Increase the likelihood you will spot these majestic creatures and get the most of your adventure
For those seeking a slice of paradise to find a little time with their partner, the mineral-rich hot springs of Utah are a picture-perfect destination for a romantic getaway built for two. Written by Andrew Dash Gillman. Follow a historian on a tour of the Transcontinental Railroad Backcountry Byway as he reconstructs forgotten history. Written by Elaine Jarvik. His work still stands today. Visit and be inspired by this iconic piece of Utah's land art.
Onaqui Mountains Greig Huggins. Photo: Greig Huggins. Know Your Herd Wild horse herds are elusive.
Plan Your Route In Western Utah, long, sagebrush-filled basins stretch as far as the eye can see, bordered on either side by rolling, velvety mountain ranges. Be Prepared Most of the viewing locations are on very rural dirt ro, so making sure you and your vehicle are prepared for the adventure is crucial.
Respect Horse Herds Horses are prey animals, meaning they are instinctively wary of people.
Photo: Rosie Serago. Get Great Photos Up-close photos of wild mustangs are almost guaranteed to be some of your favorite shots ever. Share On. About the Author — Matcha Matcha formerly RootsRated is a media platform that connects users with the best outdoor experiences, hand-picked by local outdoor retailers and their networks of local experts.