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Red Butte Wilderness

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The United States Congress designated the Red Butte Wilderness (map) in 2009 and it now has a total of 1,535 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Utah and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The Red Butte Wilderness is bordered by the Zion Wilderness to the north.


Red Butte Wilderness is one of five logical extensions of the Zion Wilderness. This area is part of the integrated watershed, wildlife habitat, and scenic terrain of Zion National Park, and is among the most pristine, spectacular, and ecologically significant BLM-administered wild land in Utah. Red Butte rises 1,800 feet above the Kolob Reservoir road about 10 miles north of the Virgin River.

Red Butte is composed of rugged sedimentary cliffs formed among the Grand Staircase plateaus. Its canyons have cut up to 1,000-foot-deep sheer walls of red Navajo Sandstone capped by the Carmel Formation. The rugged topography of this unit makes it an important scenic viewpoint. Rising almost 1,800 feet in less than a mile, Red Butte stands out when viewed from a distance. Elevations within the Wilderness range from approximately 5,500 feet to 7,420 feet at the top of Red Butte.

Vegetation in the area is consistent with that of the American Desert zone which consists of 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 spend their summers, along with elk, in other nearby units. Mountain lions prey on the deer throughout the area 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.

Hiking and backpacking are outstanding in the Red Butte Wilderness. Scenic and photographic values are obvious and technical and non-technical climbing opportunities can be found. Red Butte Wilderness receives between 14 and 18 inches of precipitation each year. Summer temperatures often exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit with temperatures in excess of 90 at higher elevations and day and night temperatures differing by over 30 degrees. Winters are cold and often wet with temperatures ranging from highs of 50 to 60 degrees during the day to lows well below freezing at night. There are no maintained trails in the Wilderness.

Planning to Visit the Red Butte Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Red Butte Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.

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