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Utah (Beaver Dam Wash)

August 27 2002 at 12:45 PM
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This message has been edited by dipper on Aug 27, 2002 12:55 PM

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Lynn Arave

June 2006 Trip to Utah;s lowest point

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June 7 2006, 11:50 AM 

Myself and 2 others visited Utah's lowest point on June 6, 2006, in 100 degree temperatures -- despite it beging about 9:30 a.m.
However. none of the elevations I've seen posted -- including here -- are anywhere near accurate.
There's a fenceline (barb wire) that actually marks the line pretty closely.
The lowest reading we could get in the half dozen subsections of that wash was 2,154 feet above sea level. (The GPS kept varying its reading, as if satellites woddble or something.)
Anyway, 2,174 was the highest it went and so and 2164 feet.
(In contrast, this site lists 2,000 feet and most State of Utah official tourist listings say 2350.)
Very hot in this area. I would not recommend a May though September visit -- unless you are prepared to withstand heat, as I bet this is also Utah's HOTTEST usual place.
You also need ATVs or a 4-wheel drive to visit here.
No way cars can make this, as there are dips, loose sand and some rocks.
Directions to Utah's lowest point:
1. Take the paved highway that goes north out of Littlefield/Beaver Dam (the only road through here in pre-I-15 days) and go about 0.8 of a mile past the Utah-Arizona line.
2. Turn left (west) in a dirt road that goes southwest (and that may have a sign post with no writing at its head).
3. The road turns due west in about 1/4 mile and if you spot a few "Mormon Pioneer Trail" signs off to the side, then you are on the correct road.
4. Stay on this road for just short of 5 miles until the road descends into the Beaver Dam wash itself.
5. Probably park on the east side of the first water flowing, if it's there, as it is very loose material and sand here.
6. If you see huge electric power lines a hundred feet north, then you are in the right place. (These power lines make great reference points for getting back.)
7. Walk due north and pick your trail. The Beaver Dam Wash is very wide and there are lots of trees and brush to negotiated through and around. Lots of cows may be in this range area too.
There may also be swampy areas and small sections of stream to cross. Be sure to take plenty of water, as this place is 400 feet lower than St. George and likely 2 degrees or so hotter.
Generally stay on the east side of the wide Beaver Dam wash, as tha's where the lowest spot will be.
8. It's about a 2-mile walk through sandy, gravel and brush, depending on your route.
9. When you reach a barb wire fence and a GPS says 37, you're there.
10. Cross the fence from Arizona and you are in Utah.
11. We found one of the east side dips (washes) to read the lowest.
12. Wisely try to re-trace your steps as closely as possible or you may be bushwasking your way back. We did that, because we got curious where the stream went -- apparently underground in places near the lowest point.
13. Coming back, the power lines will tell you how close you are to your vehicle.
There seems to be no better access from the north and if you try coming from there, you will still likely end up walking 2-3 miles on-way also. It's the dirt roads the pebetrate the Beaver Dam Wash that determine where you hike from.
ATVs would make it a cake walk, though and we did see some of their tracks, though they didn't exist near the lowest point. Must be ranchers or others who use them.
e-mail me at, if you have any questions/comments.

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Lynn Arave

Utah's lowest point is about 2,178 feet

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June 17 2006, 12:14 AM 

Despite what my GPS measured at Utah's lowest point, the Utah Geological Survey estimates that Utah's lowest point is "about 2,178" feet above sea level.
That contrasts sharply with the 2,350 feet that Utah tourist sites recount and the even 2,000 feet on this Web site's list.
The one variable is that the Beaver Dam Wash, location of Utah's lowest point, is very prone to erosion from flodding. For example, the 2005 spring floods centered in the Cedar City area could have lowered that 2,178 somewhat.
And, over time, Utah's lowest spot will definitely get lower.

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Lynn Arave

My complete Utah low point report

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September 7 2006, 11:56 AM 

(From Salt Lake's Deseret Morning News, 31 Aug. 2006:

By Lynn Arave:

St. George isn't the hottest place in Utah, nor does it have the lowest elevation. Those superlatives belong to the Beaver Dam Wash in the extreme southwest corner of the state, at the Utah-Arizona state line.
   Welcome to Utah's basement, in the Beaver Dam Wash, where an environment exists unlike anywhere else in the Beehive State. It's the Mojave Desert, where Joshua trees, blackbrush, creosote, yucca and other southern desert plants rule in an ovenlike environment this time of year.
   Kings Peak is Utah's highest elevation at 13,538 feet above sea level, but at Beaver Dam Wash — 288 air miles away — the elevation dips more than two miles below Kings and is almost 600 feet lower than the city of St. George, located some 23 miles to the northeast.
   The majority of sources out there — Internet and books — have Utah's lowest elevation all wrong. Utah's lowest point isn't 2,350 feet above sea level, as is commonly listed by Utah tourist sources. Nor is it an even 2,000 feet, as some other sources list.
   Utah's lowest elevation here is "probably" 2,178 feet above sea level.
   (In contrast, St. George has an average elevation of 2,800 feet and Salt Lake City's Temple Square is 4,327 feet above sea level.)
   That's according to Mark Milligan, a geologist with the Utah Geological Survey, who found that quadrangle maps show the lowest spot is found in an area bounded by 2,160-foot and 2,180-foot contour lines.
   "The border is much closer to the 2,180 contour and thus agrees with an elevation of 2,178 feet," he wrote in an e-mail to the Deseret Morning News.
   He found that even though the USGS Geographic Names Information also lists Utah's lowest elevation at 2,178 feet, in the same entry it uses the even 2,000-foot number as the state's least elevation, too.
   Milligan believes 2,178 is as close an estimate to the low elevation as is possible. Since the Beaver Dam Wash is an area prone to flooding, its elevation can change.
   "Of course, it is possible erosion may have recently lowered this portion of the wash," Milligan reported in his e-mail. "The precipitation that caused the 2005 flooding in St. George presumably caused flooding in the Beaver Dam Wash.
   "I have not been there recently enough to remember what the bottom of the wash looks like in that area. So I would not even dare an educated guess as to whether to expect much erosion there from such floods."
   Elaine York, West Desert regional director for the Utah Field Office of the Nature Conservancy, said the 2005 flooding did damage the Lytle Ranch facilities in the Beaver Dam Wash, about six miles north. (The ranch is now owned and operated by Brigham Young University.)
   She suspects the lowest elevation could have dipped slightly from erosion last year.
   "Beaver Dam Wash is a Mojave Desert eco-region," she said.
   It's also an area famous for bird-watching, and a portion of the Beaver Dam Wash is under study as a possible wilderness area.
   Mark Eubank, KSL's chief meteorologist, believes Utah's lowest spot is also usually its hottest most days.
   "In general, the lower the elevation, the hotter the temperature," Eubank said. "That is why Death Valley is the hottest place in North America — elevation near 200 feet below sea level.
   "There are no official temperature readings from Beaver Dam Wash, but I feel certain it averages hotter there than in St. George."
   Eubank said Mesquite, Nev., to the southwest of Beaver Dam Wash, runs 2 to 5 degrees hotter than St. George most days.
   Chris Gibson, meteorologist with the Salt Lake Office of the National Weather Service, agrees.
   "It probably is the hottest place in Utah," he said.
   Gibson said temperatures generally drop 5.5 degrees Celsius for every 1,000 feet of altitude descended. On a hot, still day, he believes Utah's lowest point would be a couple of degrees warmer than St. George.
   Despite the hot temperatures in the Beaver Dam Wash, it isn't totally waterless. York said some perennial springs keep year-round water there, even though at times the water is underground slightly.
   Utah's lowest point ranks fourth among the 50 states in height. Only Colorado (3,320 feet), Wyoming (3,099) and New Mexico (2,840) have higher "low" spot points. (Montana rates fifth-place with an 1,800-foot low point.)
   Twenty-one of the states have sea level as their lowest point.
   There's also increasing interest in "bagging" the lowest points in all 50 states and a Web site for America's Basement,, highlights the possibilities.

   • During a June 5 and 6 visit to Utah's lowest point, my GPS initially measured 2,176 in one of the lowest washes, where Utah's lowest point surely is. A few dozen feet away in another small wash eastward, it measured 2,174 feet and fluctuated, dropping to as low as 2,154. (GPS devices do not claim absolute accuracy on elevation measured.)
   If you still need a more exact idea of where Utah's lowest point is, it is almost straight north up the Beaver Dam Wash, 15 miles north of Littlefield, Ariz., which I-15 en route to Mesquite/Las Vegas passes through.
   Two Deseret Morning News colleagues and I found the Beaver Dam Wash to be a much larger region than imagined — with the wash being the lowest point in the area with a width of up to a half-mile at times.
   We also found a trek here to be no walk in the park. Loose sand and gravel, marshes and thick brush make walking difficult, and the all-terrain vehicle tracks we saw at times may represent the smartest and easiest way to visit.
   Temperatures on an unusually warm June 6 here were likely more than 100 degrees at 10 a.m. One thermometer measured 112 degrees! Thus, this is a much more comfortable place to visit in winter, early spring or late fall.
   Cattle roam the area, and a fairly new and well-maintained barbed-wire fence separates Utah from Arizona — even here — meaning Utah's lowest spot is in the lowest of several dips along the north side of that fence.

   • Utah has six corner monuments marking the corners of its borders. The southwest corner monument is almost due west of Utah's lowest point — about 2.5 miles away. However, the topography of a steep hillside on the west slope of the Beaver Dam Wash means making a trip there on the same day is difficult.

   • To visit Utah's lowest point, you will need a truck or four-wheel drive vehicle, unless you want to walk an extra six miles along dirt roads in the desert. The road is not suitable for cars because of several dips that exceed a regular car's clearance.
   To get there, drive to Littlefield, Ariz., on I-15 and take Exit 8; go north on the old highway that leads to Shivwits and back into Utah; go past the Beaver Dam, Ariz., community (elevation 1,860 feet) and cross the Utah-Arizona stateline.
   Then look for a dirt road that heads left (west), 0.8 mile past the state line. Follow this road southwest and then straight south for almost five miles into the Beaver Dam Wash. You will cross two cattle guards and see several "Mormon pioneer trail" signs posted along the way. Ignore any side roads and always head due west.
   Park near some large overhead power lines in a loose gravel area, near the perennial water of the Beaver Dam Wash.
   Be sure to carry plenty of drinking water and do not hike in the afternoon on hot days. Starting elevation here is about 2,076.
   Walk northward, carefully picking your route, about two miles, to a barbed-wire fence you can't miss. Cross the fence and find the lowest point from there. (The above ground steam water disappears just before the fence line.)
   Retrace your steps to avoid having to bushwack and knowing the power lines to the south highlight your starting point.

    Lynn Arave, Ravell Call and Ray Boren visited the Beaver Dam Wash and Utah's lowest point on June 5 and 6, 2006.

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Beaver Dam Wash

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December 29 2010, 12:42 AM 

A friend and I purchased ( from SITLA) the land in Utah on Arizona border that includes the lowest elevation spot in Utah. After the January 2005 floods the lowest elevation averaging many gps measurements is about 2165 ft. Those floods reduced the elevation of the lowest spot a good 3-4 feet. The fence on the border was replaced on Beaver Dam Wash afterward. Last week the area flooded fairly heavily but I haven't checked if any significant erosion has occurred and lowered the elevation any further. This year the fence on the Utah Arizona border got signs marking it as the boundary for the new Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Area. This includes the fence on the wash itself despite that section being private property. You use to be able to drive in from the north ( done it many times in a Subaru) except for about a year after the 2005 floods. Now with the new National Conservation Area designation you can access the wash from the north on the dirt road but you aren't supposed to drive down the wash. ATVers still do illegally. From the south you could drive in with a high clearance vehicle to the Utah border. Probable a bit too rough for a car. This spot and the south slope along Highway 91 along the Utah Arizona border tends to heat up very quickly even in winter on sunny days. A few weeks ago it was 36 degrees in Mesquite at about 8:30 am about 20 minutes later I was on the Utah Border and it was 56 degrees. St. George and even Mesquite do get temperature inversions in the winter. In late winter ( March) temperatures have exceeded 100 degrees on occasion on this property. I imagine it would be the hottest spot in Utah in the summer as well but I have never been there during the summer.

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Lowered a bit more

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January 18 2011, 10:46 PM 

The lowest elevation spot in Utah on Beaver Dam Wash did drop another foot or 2 from erosion from the floods in Dec 2010.
While i hiked

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