The Bentonite Hills are an attraction commonly referred to as the rainbow mountains of Utah. These hills in Utah are scenic, rust-colored formations located near the Capitol Reef National Park and are famous for their resemblance to the landscape of Mars

The bentonite hills were formed thousands of years ago and have become a popular natural attraction.

Why Are the Hills So Colorful?

The hills are made of bentonite clay, which many believe was formed during the Jurassic period. This means that the beauty of these hills began nearly 140 million years ago. This clay is altered volcanic ash that entered swamps and lakes, along with sand, silt and mud. As clay naturally does upon entering a wet environment, it absorbed the water from the swamps and lakes and became a different texture. This created the rich reddish-brown color that visitors see today. 

Can the Bentonite Hills Be Hiked?

Although the striking hills compel visitors to want to touch and explore the terrain, the Bentonite Hills are not an area that visitors can hike. It is important to note that the surface of the hills are highly sensitive and it takes only a footstep to damage the environment. Because of this, there are no walking trails through the hills. Visitors are encouraged to drive on the paved road and limit foot travel. Drones are encouraged since they allow visitors to capture the hills from a high vantage point. Although the hills are not a part of the Capitol Reef National Park and are simply run by the state, they are very close by (just east of the south central park).

What Time of Year Should You Visit Utah?

The best seasons to visit the rainbow mountains in Utah are fall and winter since these seasons have fewer crowds and more manageable temperatures.The blue hour is the prime time to visit the Bentonite hills. This time is the hour before sunset and is the opposite of golden hour. When the hills are in direct sunlight they appear more muted, so a reddish-brown color can be observed. 

What Is the Best Thing To Do Near the Bentonite Hills?

For the traveler that does want to get involved with the land, the Leprechaun Canyon is the perfect place to visit while in the state of Utah. The canyon offers fantastic hiking and climbing opportunities and guided tours. As with the Bentonite Hills, visitors are expected to practice leave-no-trace principles. 

Preparing for a Hike or Climb In Utah

To have the safest experience in Utah locations like Leprechaun Canyon, download a map and bring plenty of water and snacks. Visitors should not underestimate the power of the sun, even if it feels cool under the cover of the canyons. Bring sunscreen and of course, wear supportive closed toed shoes. Whether hiking or climbing solo or with a group, visitors of the canyon should ensure they have emergency kits.