Block Mesas, Southwest UT
RT Stats: ~ 11 miles & 2,400 feet
Difficulty: Class 3/easy 4

With Zion peakbagging plans thwarted by the government shutdown and a day to kill by myself before CP & DB's wedding I decided to explore an area labeled "Block Tops" on the map that is just 7 miles southeast of the park border.

Jeep roads abound but I wasn't comfortable driving very far in my stock 4Runner alone because the sand is quite serious here; I walked the roads instead and even that was not easy! As I parked the car and began slogging through the deep sand a pack of coyotees were howling nearby, uncomfortably close. The named peaks, Elephant and Sandstone Buttes, were my main objective but I also ended up climbing two other unnamed summits nearby. On the cross country hike back to the car I was attacked by a vicious manzanita who cut my wrist very deeply and drew much blood. Damn manzanitas.

This is a beautiful area and all of the peaks were interesting. Elephant Butte and the unnamed mesa just east of it are guarded by fierce cliffs on every side and finding a suitable weakness takes some exploring.

Don't confuse this Elephant Butte with the Elephant Butte that is the highpoint of Arches National Park and an increasingly popular scramble.

The southwest side of Elephant Butte as seen from near my parking spot on the sandy road.

Circling around the west side of Elephant Butte in search of a weakness that'll let me gain the summit mesa.

Next up: Sandstone Butte, a nifty little slickrock dome.

Artsy shot of Sandstone Butte's summit dome.

Elephant & Sandstone Buttes as seen from UN 6,580.

UN 6,713 and Elephant Butte, both well guarded by cliffs, as seen from UN 6,580.

Another shot of UN 6,713 and Elephant Butte from UN 6,580.

UN 6,580 as seen from the jeep road to its south. I went up the ridge on the right.

Elephant Butte as seen from UN 6,713. No reasonable way up it from this side.

Two different shots of UN 6,580 from UN 6,713.

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