Nestled in the heart of Utah’s desert landscape, Temple Mountain holds a special place in the hearts of adventurers, hikers, and history enthusiasts alike. As lifelong Utah residents, we’ve explored the state’s many natural wonders, and Temple Mountain remains one of our favorite destinations. In this article, we’ll share everything you need to know to plan your own unforgettable Temple Mountain adventure.

A picture of temple mountain with a campsite and camping trailer in the foreground

The Allure of Temple Mountain

Geological Wonders

Temple Mountain’s unique geological features make it an incredible sight to behold. The mountain’s towering sandstone formations are remnants of ancient seabeds, sculpted by time and the elements into the awe-inspiring landscape we see today. As you hike the trails of Temple Mountain, you’ll experience firsthand the power of nature to create breathtaking beauty.

Rich Cultural Heritage

The rich cultural heritage of Temple Mountain adds another layer of intrigue to this remarkable destination. Native American tribes, such as the Fremont and Ute, once inhabited the area, leaving behind fascinating rock art and artifacts. In the 20th century, Temple Mountain became the site of a thriving uranium mining industry, with relics of this period still visible today.

Planning Your Temple Mountain Adventure

When to Go

The best time to visit Temple Mountain is from late spring to early fall, when temperatures are more moderate, and the trails are generally dry and accessible. The area can experience intense heat in the summer, so be sure to plan your hikes for the cooler mornings or late afternoons.

What to Bring

When embarking on your Temple Mountain adventure, be sure to pack plenty of water, sunscreen, and a wide-brimmed hat for sun protection. Comfortable hiking boots, a first-aid kit, and a trail map are also essential.

Getting to Temple Mountain

By Car

Temple Mountain is located near the San Rafael Swell, approximately 180 miles southeast of Salt Lake City. You can access the area by car via Interstate 70 and Utah State Route 24.

By Public Transport

Unfortunately, public transportation to Temple Mountain is limited. Your best option is to rent a car or join a guided tour to explore the area.

Exploring Temple Mountain’s Trails

The Temple Mountain Trail

The Temple Mountain Trail is a moderate 3.5-mile loop that offers stunning views of the mountain’s unique formations and the surrounding desert landscape. The well-marked trail takes you through a mix of slickrock, sand, and juniper forests, providing an immersive experience of Temple Mountain’s diverse terrain.

The Little Wild Horse Canyon Loop

For a more challenging hike, consider the Little Wild Horse Canyon Loop. This 8-mile trek takes you through one of Utah’s most famous slot canyons, featuring dramatic narrows and towering sandstone walls. The trailhead is just a short drive from Temple Mountain and offers a fantastic opportunity to explore the area’s remarkable geology.

The Behind the Reef Trail

The Behind the Reef Trail is a lesser-known gem that provides a more secluded experience. This 10-mile out-and-back trail takes you through a mix of desert washes, sandstone cliffs, and hidden alcoves. Keep an eye out for Native American rock art and remnants of Temple Mountain’s mining history as you hike.

Camping near Temple Mountain

Temple Mountain Campground

The Temple Mountain Campground, managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), offers a convenient place to set up camp while exploring the area. The campground features picnic tables, fire rings, and vault toilets but does not have potable water, so be sure to bring enough with you.

Dispersed Camping

For a more rustic experience, consider dispersed camping on BLM land near Temple Mountain. This option allows you to camp for free in designated areas, but remember to practice Leave No Trace principles and pack out all trash.

Activities and Attractions Around Temple Mountain

Photo by Intricate Explorer on Unsplash

Goblin Valley State Park

Just a short drive from Temple Mountain, Goblin Valley State Park is home to thousands of bizarre sandstone formations known as “goblins.” The park offers a range of hiking trails, picnic areas, and a campground, making it a great addition to your Temple Mountain adventure.

San Rafael Swell

The San Rafael Swell, a massive geologic uplift near Temple Mountain, offers a wealth of outdoor activities, including hiking, rock climbing, and canyoneering. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore this incredible landscape while visiting Temple Mountain.

Wedge Overlook

For panoramic views of the San Rafael Swell, head to the Wedge Overlook. Also known as “Utah’s Little Grand Canyon,” the overlook provides stunning vistas of the canyon below and the surrounding desert landscape.

Safety Tips for Your Temple Mountain Adventure

When exploring Temple Mountain and the surrounding areas, it’s essential to prioritize safety. Stay on designated trails, carry plenty of water, and let someone know your plans before setting out. Be aware of the potential for flash floods, particularly during the monsoon season, and avoid entering slot canyons if rain is in the forecast.


Temple Mountain is truly one of Utah’s most remarkable destinations, offering a blend of stunning natural beauty, rich history, and thrilling outdoor adventures. By following our tips and recommendations, you’ll be well-prepared to uncover the secrets of Temple Mountain and create lasting memories in this extraordinary landscape.

FAQ Section

Where is Temple Mountain uranium mine?

The Temple Mountain uranium mine is located on the western slope of Temple Mountain, near the Temple Mountain Campground. The mine was active during the early to mid-20th century, and remnants of the mining operation can still be seen today.

What town is closest to San Rafael Swell?

The town of Green River, Utah, is the closest town to the San Rafael Swell, located approximately 30 miles to the north. Green River offers a range of amenities, including accommodations, restaurants, and gas stations, making it a convenient base for exploring the Swell and nearby Temple Mountain.

Where is San Rafael Swell?

The San Rafael Swell is a large geologic uplift in central Utah, approximately 100 miles long and 40 miles wide. It is located to the west of Temple Mountain and is easily accessible from Interstate 70. The Swell is renowned for its unique sandstone formations, deep canyons, and a plethora of outdoor recreational opportunities.