The Robbers Roost Herd
The Robbers Roost HMA is approximately 169,906 acres of federal and state lands and is located in the San Rafael Desert, 20 miles South of Green River, Utah and six miles Northeast of Hanksville, Utah. Access is provided to the HMA via State Highway U-24 and then East on the Horse Canyon road (EM1010). It may also be reached by traveling south from the Green River airport along the gravel county road.
The HMA ranges from 5,000 to 6,100 feet in elevation, and supports one predominant vegetation type: Desert Shrub, dominated by Indian ricegrass and small amounts of curly grass and sand dropseed grass as the primary forage species.
Wild horses and burros have occupied the San Rafael Swell area since the beginning of the Old Spanish Trail in the early 1800s. Early travelers would lose animals or have them run off by Indians or rustlers. Many of these animals were headed for California to be traded and sold and were of good stock. The herd was also augmented through the release of domestic horses from local ranches. By the early 1900s, wild horse and burro numbers had soared and were being captured and sold by local “mustangers.” This continued until the passage of the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971. Since the passage of this act, the horses and burros have been managed under federal law and Bureau regulation.
The dominant colors of the horses within the herd area are gray, black and roan, 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 25 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.
Viewing and Special Travel Conditions
For viewing wild horses head east on Emery County road EM1010, ¼ mile south of the Goblin Valley State Park junction on Highway U-24, the county road is a maintained dirt road, traversable in dry weather with care, by passenger cars. Traveling east approximately 18 miles to the Sweetwater Reef, the horses normally stay north of the Sweetwater reef. Most visitors will not find the horses within this HMA due to the rough terrain and sand dunes, coupled with a small population of horses. All roads off of the main county road are only passable by 4 wheel drive 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. (Note: a large portion of EM1010 road from Lookout Point to the junction of Horseshoe Canyon was severely damaged in a flash flood in September 2006, although repaired the road is VERY soft and incised.)