In the mountain peaks and sloping lowlands of western Utah roams a nationally recognized herd of wild horses with a Utah heritage much older than most of ours. These horses draw their bloodlines from the old Spanish Type, the Colonial Spanish Horse, the first horses brought to America by the Spanish Explorers in the late 1500s.
Sulphur Wild Horses are: Usually around 14 hands high. The ears are medium to short, alert, often deeply hooked with dark rims. Colors are bay, black, dun, and grulla. Mane and tail may be bi-colored and the mane bi-directional. Dorsal stripe, sooty face, and "tiger stripes" on legs.
Through time, the Sulphur Herd has bred with escaped ranch livestock, but some still hold many of the Spanish barb traits. There are only three other herds of wild horses in the United States with these characteristics.
The original Spanish Barb displayed the characteristics of the extinct wild tarpan horse. The colors are buckskin and grulla, a gray or mouse color. The ears curve in like a bird's beak, with fawn colored insides rimmed in black. They may have a dorsal stripe down the back, bi-colored manes and tails, and tiger-striped legs. There may be some cob webbing or a mask on the face. The horses have a short back, because they have only five lumbar vertebrae instead of six.
The Sulphur Herd roams a vast, unpopulated region of alternating high desert basins and expansive mountain ranges. Their home, the Needle Range, is a starkly beautiful mountain block that lies about 45 miles of Milford, Utah, along the Nevada State Line. In some spots the range rises to nearly 10,000 feet in elevation. From north to south, the mountainous spine of the Needle Range is comprised of three main peaks: Mountain Home, Indian and Steamboat Peaks.
Sulphur Herd Objectives
- Strive to maintain an ecological balance through dispersal of wild horses within the habitat and the removal of excess horses beyond the carrying capacity of the range.
- Maintain a herd size of 135 to 180 head of adult horses above two years of age.
- Through natural breeding, increase the number of horses displaying good conformation, color, or characteristics of the original Spanish barb.
- Make excess wild horses available for public adoption.
- Develop viewing opportunities for visitors to observe wild horses in a natural setting.
Best Viewing Opportunities
The Needle Range is characterized by steep slopes and narrow ridges. Access to the ridges and surrounding areas is good, provided you are driving a vehicle capable of traversing rough, back country roads. Viewing Map
You will find most of the horses in the Mountain Home and Indian Peak portions of the range. An extensive dirt-road system provides access throughout the entire area for those properly equipped. Typically, roads wander through sagebrush flats and forests of pinyon and juniper. The high country of Mountain Home Peak is a particularly pleasant destination, providing outstanding views of Hamlin Valley and Great Basin National Park.
The best access to the road network within the herd area is Utah Highway 21. Approximately 45 miles west of Milford on U-21 look for a BLM sign marked Pots Sum Pa. Turn south on this road to enter the northeastern portion of the Sulphur Herd Management Area.