We Go to Big Southern Butte

Big Southern Butte is not really a butte, more of a freestanding hill or mountain. But that’s what we call it around here, and in this post it will be abbreviated BSB.

BSB is one of the biggest perks of living in the particular farmhouse where we do. Our house is perched on a rather high spot in the midst of relatively flat farms and desert. Looking north from our yard, you can see 30 miles to Big Southern Butte, and on clear days, to the Sawtooths beyond. It looks best around sunset, when it and the Twin Buttes to east of it are lit dramatically and often attract their own clouds. I have been trying to photograph it since we moved here, usually without much success, but in the picture of our downed tree above, you can see BSB in the distance. And here it is looming over the wheatfields:

A few weeks ago, the explorer to whom I am married expressed a desire to drive up BSB and then hike the last hundred yards to the top. He had read some travel materials that said the road was passable. (bum bum bum) Of course I had to come along, because it has long been my dream to actually go to the butte.

The road leading to BSB from Atomic City is dirt with patches of basalt rock sticking out. We approached our goal from the southeast and drove completely around it, which was satisfying. There are quite a few roads tracks in the area, but all of them are better suited for pickup, jeep, or ATV. Above is a view of the butte from the North, as we were leaving.

The road that supposedly led to the top of the butte enters it via a crack (the “butte crack”) on the northwest side. Here we are approaching it. You can see the terrain, which is basically “high desert,” with rabbitbrush and silver sage.

Here are the butte’s bona fides.

We drove a ways into this crack, but whatever travel articles said the road was good must have been written a season or two ago. My husband did an amazing job maneuvering our sedan over many patches of rock, but at last we reached a point where it was pretty clear we could get high-centered if we were to continue.

Luckily, that point was partway up the side of the butte (past the first turn you see in the photo above) and there was a pull-out place to park. Some of our party hiked a ways farther up the trail, but did not go all the way to the top as it would have been 3 miles from there.

Here are the Sawtooths as seen from our parking spot. My husband says these are not the actual Sawtooths. I understood the whole region was called the Sawtooths, and then there were sub-ranges within the region, so I don’t know. Even with this little bit of height, you can start to see into the ranges. Back here are the Pioneer Mountains and the Lost River Range, among others.

It’s amazing what a difference results from going a mere 30 miles north and attaining just a little bit of height. From our house, it looks as if there is just one large mountain beyond BSB. From BSB itself, you can see that there is a whole range, and we plain-dwellers can just see the tallest.

For now, I’m content with having seen BSB up close. I would like to go to the top some day, but that will have to wait until we have, or borrow, a more suitable vehicle. In the meantime, at least we don’t have to say that we lived near a topographical wonder and never touched it.

3 thoughts on “We Go to Big Southern Butte

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