Best Trails in High Uintas Wilderness
Located in northeastern Utah, the Uinta Mountains were named for the Uintaat Indians, early relatives of the modern Ute Tribe. The High Uintas Wilderness envelops the wild core of this massive mountain range. Characterized by the highest peaks in Utah, countless lakes, and a unique alpine ecosystem, it is among the nation's most outstanding wilderness areas. The High Uintas Wilderness is administered jointly by the Ashley and Wasatch-Cache National Forests.
The Uinta Mountains were carved by glaciers from an immense uplift of Precambrian rock. Some of this rock is exposed as colorful quartzite and shales. The main crest of the Uinta Mountains runs west to east for more than 60 miles, rising over 6,000 feet above the Wyoming and Uinta Basins to the north and south. Massive secondary ridges extend north and south from the crest of the range, framing glacial basins and canyons far below. This rugged expanse of peaks and flat-top mountains is the largest alpine area in the Intermountain West and is the setting for Kings Peak, the highest peak in Utah. Hundreds of picturesque lakes, streams, and meadows lie within sculpted basins. Cold, clear rivers plunge from the basins into deep canyons that form the headwaters of Utah's major rivers.
The Uinta Mountains rise from 7,500 to 13,528 feet at the summit of Kings Peak, offering diverse habitat for a wide variety of flora and fauna. Above treeline, tundra plant communities thrive in the harsh climate of the highest altitudes. Thick forests of Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir, and lodgepole pine blanket the land below treeline. These forests are interrupted by park-like meadows and lush wetlands. In the lower elevations, aspen groves and countless mixed species offer contrast to the scene. The Uinta Mountains are home to: elk, mule deer, moose, mountain goat, coyote, black bear, bighorn sheep, ptarmigan, river otter, pine marten, cougar, and 75 percent of Utah's bird species, among many others.
The High Uintas Wilderness boasts 545 miles of trail, which may be accessed from a number of trailheads surrounding the wilderness near the gateway communities of Duchesne, Roosevelt, and Kamas, UT and Evanston and Mountain View, WY. This extensive network of trails leads visitors deep into the wilderness, through thick forests, past rushing streams and placid lakes, to sweeping alpine vistas below majestic peaks. Opportunities for exploration are endless.