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Section 5: Trip Five

South Pass to Table Rock on the Oregon Buttes-Bar X Road

 

Open Google Map at GPS Coordinates:

 
Beginning: 42.372196, -108.908821
     Ending: 41.642383, -108.386079
 

This trip begins by turning off W-28 (mile #33) at South Pass. As you head south on the Oregon Buttes Road, Pacific Butte is the broad flat mountain immediately to the southwest; the broken Oregon Buttes are a bit further to the south, and the pointed Continental Peak is off to the southeast.

After about ten miles, you cross the county line and begin traveling on S-74. Here the road winds down the hill and passes between Continental Peak and Oregon Buttes. You have a spectacular view of Edmund Springs and the basin to the south. (The springs are nice place to picnic and to watch hawks, waterfowl and shorebirds.)

After leaving the springs, the road heads out into the flats and you can see the pink and white bluffs of Honeycomb Buttes to the east. To the southwest is Joe Hay Rim and behind it is Steamboat. The road continues southeast and you pass through a seemingly endless—but beautiful—wasteland of alkali, dried lakes and blow outs. Watch for dust storms and dust devils all over this area.

Sixteen miles from Edmund Springs you cross Bush Creek and three miles further is a junction. Here you can turn west on S-21 to a junction near Rock Cabin Springs. There you can take the road north to Farson or south to the Dunes Road (see page 82).

Turn east on S-21 for four miles to another junction. Here you can take the Bar-X Ranch Road (S-15) south to the Great Divide Basin Road near Black Rock (see page 80).

Stay on the main road (S-21) southeast into Alkali Flats. After passing through these flats for about six miles, you come to a junction. Here a road turns northeast toward Buffalo Hump Basin and Hay Reservoir.

Continue south on S-21 and after about four miles the road passes by Red Lake (actually a large red basin that is almost always dry) off to the east. The road then passes through some vegetated sand dunes where you can see Steamboat Mountain, North and South Table, and Black Rock off to the west. Eight miles south of the Buffalo Hump Road is a junction. Here you can take the Dunes Road (S-20) east to the Crooks Gap Road and US-287.

Continue south on S-21 for four more miles to the next junction. Here you can turn west on the Twelve-mile Road (S-82, the Great Divide Basin Road) to Steamboat Mountain and Rock Springs.

Stay south on S-21 and you cross Black Rock Creek in Twelve-mile Gulch. You cross Dugout Gulch after four miles and then Smiley Draw after seven more miles. The road travels past many OFR's, so stay on the main road going south. Along this stretch you can see Black Butte to the southwest, Table Rock to the south, and Delaney Rim to the southeast. Twenty miles from the junction with the Twelve-mile Road, you hit I-80 at exit #152.

Oregon Buttes is a desolate place with a unique beauty of its own.