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High Uintas Wilderness

Uinta Mountains, Utah

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High Uintas Wilderness

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  • Entering the High Uintas Wilderness.- High Uintas Wilderness
  • Approaching Lower Red Castle Lake.- High Uintas Wilderness
  • Red Castle Peak dominates the backdrop of Lower Red Castle Lake in the High Uintas Wilderness.- High Uintas Wilderness
  • Red Castle Lake as viewed from Wilson Peak.- High Uintas Wilderness
  • Descending from the summit of Wilson Peak.- High Uintas Wilderness
  • A young moose just across the Henrys Fork River.- High Uintas Wilderness
  • Looking south across Dollar Lake toward West Gunsight Peak, Kings Peak, and Henrys Fork Peak.- High Uintas Wilderness
  • West Gunsight Peak (left) and Henrys Fork Peak (right) frame the shark tooth Kings Peak (center). The route to Kings Peak will pass left of this picture and wrap behind West Gunsight. "The Chute" steeply descends directly in front of Kings Peak.   - High Uintas Wilderness
  • Northeast view toward West Gunsight Peak, Gunsight Peak, and Gilbert Peak.- High Uintas Wilderness
  • A small stream crossing on the return from Kings Peak.- High Uintas Wilderness
  • Bootpacking up the chute to the Kings Peak summit.- High Uintas Wilderness
  • Nearing the Gunsight Peak summit.- High Uintas Wilderness
  • Kings Peak, West Gunsight, and Henrys Fork Peak (all 13ers), as viewed from the summit of Gunsight Peak.- High Uintas Wilderness
  • Hiking through Henrys Fork Basin.- High Uintas Wilderness
  • Naturalist Basin.- High Uintas Wilderness
  • Middle Basin and Hayden Peak (12,479 feet, left of photo).- High Uintas Wilderness
  • Contributor John Badila at the summit of Mount Agassiz.  - High Uintas Wilderness
  • Campsite above Blue Lake.  - High Uintas Wilderness
  • - High Uintas Wilderness
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Great solitude. Amazing wildlife. Beautiful and unique landscape.
Cons: 
Can get very buggy.
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Region:
Uinta Mountains, UT
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Year round: 
No
Open from: 
May 15 to November 15
Parking Pass: 
National or state forest pass
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

When most people talk about the Uinta Mountains, they are referring to the western region that is accessed by Mirror Lake Highway by way of Kamas. The official High Uintas Wilderness to its east is a vast and desolate region that holds Utah's tallest and some of its most unusual peaks. A slew of wilderness areas were created in Utah in 1984, and this was one of the premiere zones to receive federal protection. The massive area, over 456,000 acres, overlaps both the Ashley and Wasatch-Cache National Forests and has the globally rare distinction of being an east-west facing mountain range. With low elevations above 7,500 feet and topping out with King's Peak at 13,528 feet, naming this area the "High" Uintas was no mistake. Countless lakes, ponds and streams are fed by small glaciers in the highlands with massive meadows peppered with rolling mountain ridges. Tundra plants cling to life above the treeline while spruce, pine and fir trees cover the landscape below and act as the headwaters for several of Utah's major rivers.

There are four beautiful wilderness areas just minutes from Salt Lake City, but they have nothing on the High Uintas Wilderness when it comes to multi-day backpacking trips. The remote location allows for trails to stretch on for days, giving its guests long periods of solitude. Without a doubt, conquering King's Peak is a "bucket-list" hike thanks to it being the tallest peak in the state, and people don't stop heading up there in the winter either. Nearby Gunsight Peak is also a formidable and fun challenge. What they both do lack, however, is the sheer beauty and unusual charm of the Red Castle, a strange formation that bucks the trend of the rounded yet flattened ridgelines that are so common here. Naturalist Basin is one of the prettiest places in the High Uintas and can be accessed from the Mirror Lake Highway, along with its nearby peak, Mount Agassiz. The most in-depth look at this wilderness area in one continuous multi-day backpack is without a doubt the Highline Trail. The bucket-list trip stretches from the far western to the far eastern edges of the park for a daunting 104 miles. It is the quintessential way to see the majority of the wilderness in one trail.

With a mind-boggling 545 miles of trails to explore, the area offers a lifetime of adventure far from civilization. In regards to wildlife, the region hosts a very wide variety of animals such as black bear, mountain goat, coyotes, cougars, and even river otter, not to mention three-fourths of Utah's bird species. The plentiful fields of wildflowers in summer help put some color into what can be a drab landscape during the fall or spring, but the area really is a year round recreation paradise. Backcountry camping is incredibly common here because of the long approaches and lack of development, but please review the regulations before you head out there for a multi-day adventure. To access the High Uintas Wilderness from Utah, you will be heading north from the towns of Tabiona, Duchesne, Roosevelt or Vernal, or you can get there by heading south from Evanston, Mountain View, or Lonetree, Wyoming.

 

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Nearby Camping + Lodging

(2 within a 30 mile radius)

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(7 within a 30 mile radius)

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