The Uinta Mountains, located 100 miles east of Salt Lake City, Utah, is the highest range in North America. It’s a subrange of the Rocky Mountains, and has peaks ranging from 11,000 to 13,528 feet.
These mountains are also the largest wilderness area in Utah, with various lakes, waterfalls, basins, forests, and rocky terrain perfect for hiking activities. With its vast natural state and mostly untouched lands, the Uinta Mountains are a popular outdoor destination for the State’s residents.
This place is an amazing destination for backpacking trips and hiking activities. What lies beyond the high peaks of Uinta Mountains? Here are some hidden gems in the area to explore.
Exploring the Wonders of the Uinta Mountains
The untouched landscape of the Uinta Mountain range makes opportunities for exploration limitless.
For winter exploration
Snow blankets the Uinta Mountains around the months of November to May, making the trails perfect for skiing and snowmobiling. Trail systems spread evenly through the mountains, with hundreds of miles of designated routes for beginners and experienced riders.
You can bring your own snowmobile or rent one from one of the many local rentals in the area. The Uinta Basin Snowmobile complex is perfect for beginners, with a base camp in Vernal tailored for easy riding. Some popular local activities are backcountry skiing, snowmobiling and snow traveling.
For spring and summer hiking
The Uinta Mountains has around 2,000 lakes and different bodies of water. The trails allow you to pass along various lakes, basins and ponds, a refreshing reprieve from the long hike over rocky terrain and thick forestry under the heat of the sun.
Amethyst basin is one of the most popular hiking trails in the area. The trail begins at Christmas Meadows Campground, stretching past waterfalls until you reach the Amethyst Lake.
The trail spans 13 miles; the long walk is worth it as you can see Ostler Peak from the lake, making it the best spot to take a moment and enjoy the scenery. At an elevation of 1,900 feet, you can camp at the site overnight; the trees shield you from the elements while the rich grass beds cushions your back.
Another popular hiking spot is Red Castle. The giant red rock formation towering over the lake makes it appear otherworldly. The place gets its name from the red castle-like peaks from the mountain, which glows a vibrant red during sunset.
The hike toward the peak is two days long, where you encounter three different lakes along the way. The terrain is rocky and muddy, so pack light and dress appropriately for the hike.
Spots to visit during fall
Other popular scenic spots in the wilderness area are Cataract George and Mirror Lake Highway.
Cataract George is a hidden gem, with lots of waterfalls located along the river on its trail. It has fewer visitors than the other trails due to its difficult and slippery terrain, but the waterfalls make the trip worth it.
Mirror Lake Highway, on the other hand, is the gateway into the Uintas, as many of its trailheads begin from the main road. Its scenic byway has viewpoints of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. The place is perfect for a picnic as you enjoy the mountainous views by the lake.
The most popular peak in the entire wilderness area is Kings Peak, also the tallest peak in Utah. Considered as Utah’s “crown point,” many hikers and backpackers hike down the trail toward the steep peak for the ultimate adventure.
The Uinta Mountain range is an idyllic spot to explore, any season. Whether you’re planned a backpacking adventure or simply seek a short trek, the Uinta Mountains prove is a worthy destination.