The Sun Tunnels in Utah is a sculpture for the stars and sun, created by Nancy Holt in 1976. It consists of four large concrete tubes (each 18 ft in diameter and 68 ft long), laid out in an "X" configuration. When peered through on the Winter solstice, the sun appears through two of the tunnels; and on the Summer solstice, the sun appears through the two other tunnels. In addition to viewing the sun, the holes drilled in the sides of the tunnels allow patterns of light inside allowing you to see the shape of various constellations of Draco, Perseus, Columba, and Capricorn.
Notch Peak (9,658 ft) is in Utah's West Desert near the town of Delta, Utah. Notch Peak is part of the House Range mountains and Notch Peak Wilderness Study Area. The northwest face of Notch Peak is also well known for having the 2nd tallest cliff face in North America with 2,200 ft of vertical rise, making it a popular spot for BASE Jumpers and climbers. The tallest cliff face is of course, El Capitan, in Yosemite National Park. Overall, the summit of Notch Peak rises roughly 4,500 ft above the Tule Valley. Because of this, Notch Peak has been called the "desert equivalent" of El Capitan.
Hiking Utah's Ultra Prominence Peaks is not for the average hiker - many of these peaks require hiking off trail, very early morning starts (sometimes 3am), route finding, long days, crossing exposed ridge lines, extremely steep and rugged terrain, and sometimes a river crossing. In addition to these "fun" circumstances, I've also dealt with bad sun burns, running out of food, running out of water, reading the map wrong, forgetting socks, starting out too late in the day, ending after dark, getting annoyed by people I'm hiking with, and as the movies say, have experienced blood, sweat, and tears. So why do I keep doing it? What is the draw for people to complete Ultra Prominent Peaks?
Ibapah Peak is the tallest point in the Deep Creek Mountains and Juab County, at 12,087 ft. Getting to to the trail head is a long drive, since it's about a 4 hour drive from SLC. The Deep Creeks are truly a unique place in the West Desert. The long distance from major population allows hikers to find solitude. The desert at the foot of the mountain is at an elevation of about 4,800 ft, giving the mountains an enormous vertical rise of 7,300 ft - greater than that of the famous Teton's in Wyoming. Plan on camping near the TH the day before you hike here - camping is free, and there are a few spots that already have a fire ring. You'll want to have an early start to your hike, and be prepared to give your legs a workout.
Rishel Peak (6,196 ft) is a fin-like peak created by volcanic activity, and is located in Utah's West Desert in the Silver Island Mountains. There is no trail, no shade, no water, and no true parking area or signs. Be aware that you MUST have a high clearance or 4X4 car to drive out here, and be prepared for flat tires from old mining nails still scattered about.The best time of year to hike this peak is in Spring or Fall when the temperatures are not as hot. Because this area is BLM Land, you can camp for free anywhere. However, there are no established camping areas, and Leave No Trace principles apply.
Cobb Peak (7,021 ft) was not my favorite hike or peak I've done. Let's just get that out of the way off the bat. This peak does not have a trail, very little shade, no water, has lots of bush whacking, and is very steep. Now, I've done my fair share of peaks with those qualities, but this one in the Silver Island Mountains seemed to kick my butt worse than the others. Although it is only 1.7 miles to the summit, it seemed to take forever, with lots of route finding. You don't want to do this hike alone - there were some really sketchy parts that I was nervous on, such as climbing up a rock slab for about 30 ft, and needing a hand to help pull me up in other areas. Getting to the summit took us about 3 hours, and another 3 hours to get back down. I have never been so nervous on a peak for how I would get back down.