The United States Congress designated the Blackridge Wilderness (map
) in 2009 and it now has a total of 13,107 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Utah
and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
The Blackridge Wilderness is bordered by
the Zion Wilderness
to the northeast.
The following wilderness areas are logical extensions of the Zion Wilderness: Red Butte Wilderness, LaVerkin Creek Wilderness, Taylor Creek Wilderness, Beartrap Canyon Wilderness, and Blackridge Wilderness. They are part of the integrated watershed, wildlife habitat, and scenic terrain of the park, and are among the most pristine, spectacular, and ecologically significant BLM-administered wild lands in Utah. Red Butte rises 1,800 feet above the Kolob Reservoir road about 10 miles north of the Virgin River. Access to the 804-acre unit is from the end of the Lamareau Tank service road to the southeast and from the west from a jeep trail that heads north from Rock Spring. LaVerkin Creek Canyon emerges south of Kolob Arch. Its deep canyons topped by conifer forests are a logical extension of the Kolob section of the park. Immediately east of Kolob Arch and two miles west of Kolob Reservoir, the 40-acre Beartrap unit contains the headwater areas for tributaries that flow through the Beartrap Canyon of the Kolob Terrace. The Middle Fork of Taylor Creek Canyon lies immediately east of the Taylor Creek Road and the park's west entrance and is a headwaters for the park. Its sheer-walled canyons are natural extensions of the park. Spring Creek Canyon is adjacent to the northern edge of the Kolob section of the park, directly east of Kanarraville. Black Ridge is the largest of the six.
These areas are composed of rugged sedimentary cliffs formed among the Grand Staircase plateaus. The canyons in these units have cut up to 1,000-foot-deep sheer walls of red Navajo Sandstone capped by the Carmel Formation. The rugged topography of these units makes them important scenic viewpoints. Rising almost 1,800 feet in less than a mile, Red Butte stands out when viewed from the Kolob Reservoir road. Black Ridge, formed by the Hurricane Fault, is a major geologic feature and provides outstanding views into Zion National Park, over into Canaan Mountain, and west to the Pine Valley Mountains.
These areas vary in elevation from 7,700 feet on the ridge above Taylor Creek Canyon to 4,000 feet in the LaVerkin Creek canyon bottom. Consequently, vegetation is of several different zones. The upper elevations and north- and east-facing slopes are populated with ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, white fir, aspen, and Rocky Mountain juniper. The middle elevations are predominately shrub woodlands supporting oak, pygmy pinyon-juniper, yucca, serviceberry, littleleaf mountain mahogany, and princess plume. Below 4,500 feet is the American Desert zone with blackbrush, salt bush, and creosote bush, which are adapted to drier conditions. Riparian habitat also occurs along streambeds, and hanging gardens grow in seeps and drips on canyon walls. Maidenhair fern, pink-flowered shooting star, and scarlet monkeyflower inhabit these verdant areas.
Mule deer winter on the sunny slopes of Red Butte and the foothills of Spring Creek Canyon. They spend their summers along with elk in LaVerkin Creek and other nearby units. Mountain lions prey on the deer throughout the area, according to the BLM, and in places are relatively numerous. Seven different species of raptors inhabit the area and often nest in the steep cliff walls. These include the bald eagle and peregrine falcon, the golden eagle, prairie falcon, American kestrel, red-tailed hawk, and Cooper's hawk. Peregrine falcons use much of the area, according to the UDWR, and bald eagles are known to winter in the Virgin River drainage south of the WSAs, according to the BLM. Turkey, blue grouse, and band-tailed pigeons inhabit LaVerkin Creek and Taylor Creek canyons.
Hiking and backpacking are outstanding in all six units as extensions of the national park. Scenic and photographic values are obvious and some fishing and rock climbing occur in LaVerkin Creek Canyon. Technical and non-technical climbing opportunities are found on Red Butte and on cliff walls in the other units.
Maps: Northeastern Washington County Wilderness--5.6 MB PDF Northwestern Washington County Wilderness--7.5 MB PDF