Five miles west of Soda Springs is a great stone bluff rising several hundred feet above the Bear River. This is the point at which the Bear makes its sweeping left turn, around the base of Sheep Rock, and heads back south toward the Great Salt Lake. Geologically, it marks the northern end of the Wasatch Mountain Range. Sheep Rock was a prominent landmark for emigrants on the Oregon Trail, and it is noted in numerous diaries from the period. From this point, three branches of the Oregon-California Trail diverge.
The main route of the Oregon Trail heads northwest to Chesterfield and Fort Hall. The Hudspeth Cutoff, the route preferred by those going to California, heads due west. The Bidwell-Bartleson Trail, which was the route followed by the earliest group of emigrants in 1841, heads south down the Bear River to California. The Bidwell-Bartleson party encountered great difficulties on this route as they tried to cross the desert west of the Great Salt Lake, so this route was not used again.