The Range Creek Herd
The Range Creek Herd Management Area (HMA) is approximately 78,638 acres of Federal, State and Private lands which is located on the West Tavaputs Plateau, 28 miles east of Price, Utah. Access is provided to the HMA through Nine Mile and then up Cottonwood Canyon. It may also be reached by traveling through Water Canyon and over Bruin Point. Parts of this HMA are not accessible to the public due to private lands.
The HMA ranges from 5,600 to 8,900 feet in elevation, and supports vegetation types ranging from aspen and mix conifer to salt desert shrub. The Pinion/Juniper vegetation type dominates the HMA with intermixed open grass parks.
Horses have been a part of the range environment in the Range Creek area at least since contemporary livestock use began. The origin of the wild horse herd is believed to be from ranch horses once owned by the Preston Nutter Ranch. The stout, compact conformation and limited variation in color in the population support this theory of origin. Branded horses were allowed to run free in a semi wild state and periodically captured to obtain working stock and to brand the young horses. The herds were last officially gathered by the ranchers for branding in the early 1930’s.
The dominant color in the herd is black, followed by bay and brown, with a few sorrels, chestnuts, pintos and palominos. Pintos have visibly increased in frequency on Flat Iron since 1997, with an increase in sorrels and chestnuts on Cedar Ridge. The horses on the HMA are average in size ranging from 700 to 1000 pounds.
The BLM management goal is to manage the horse herd at near 100 head. In order to achieve this goal, some of the horses must be rounded up every 2 to 5 years. Excess animals are then offered for adoption through the BLM’s wild horse and burro adoption program. For more information on adoption of animals from this herd, contact the Price Field Office.
For viewing wild horses head north on highway 123 from the Sunnyside Junction on Highway 10, ten miles east of Wellington, UT. Follow the paved road up through East Carbon and Sunnyside to Water Canyon. Drive up Water Canyon to Bruin Point. Caution should be taken on this section of road, due to the steepness of the terrain, 4 wheel drive is required. Upon reaching Bruin Point drive east approximately 1 mile to an unmarked open gate to access Twin Hollow. Drive down the ridge to Twin Hollow (a green UDWR gate should direct you to the right, if not you will end up in Cold Springs with no access out but the way you went in.). Upon leaving the tree’s you have a chance of seeing horses all the way across the top of the ridge until you drop into Cottonwood Canyon. Binoculars will most likely be needed to see more than just a few horses, as well as deer, elk, bear and other wildlife.
Visitors must plan on a full day trip, to visit the HMA, with most visitors driving either up Water Canyon and down Nine Mile to town or Up Nine Mile and down Water Canyon. Several other routes are available for viewing horses and round trip adventures, maps are required and locked gates and very rough roads should be expected.
Special Travel Conditions
For wild horse viewing, the main road through Nine Mile Canyon is a maintained gravel road, traversable in dry weather with care, by passenger cars. However once you get up on top of the ridges the roads are to rough for cars to pass easily. The road up Water Canyon and all other roads used to view horses require high clearance vehicles. Summer storms and flash floods tend to damage even the well maintained roads so it is suggested that only 4 wheel drive/ high clearance vehicles travel through the HMA. When wet, the roads in this area are very slick and muddy, and very dusty during extended dry periods. Due to these conditions, the roads remain rough and should be traveled with care. This HMA is also within a developing gas field and extra caution should be taken due to the work crew traffic and narrow roads with blind corners. Wilderness Study Areas occur adjacent to and within this HMA and at the end of many access roads. These Wilderness Study Areas are marked and have special travel restrictions not allowing motorized vehicles. Hiking and horse backing in these areas are allowed.