High Uintas Wilderness
Do I need a permit to enter a Wilderness Area?
Wilderness areas are places where the imprint of humans is substantially unnoticed. It is where natural processes are the primary influences and human activity is limited to primitive recreation and minimum tools. This allows for the experience of wild places without intention to disturb or destroy the natural processes. Some wilderness areas require an overnight permit to camp. Contact your local forest service office for more information.
Located in northeastern Utah, the High Uintas Wilderness comprises the wild core of the massive Uinta Mountains. 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 Ashley National Forest manages over 276,000 (60%) of the 456,705 acres included in the wilderness and is designated the lead forest in the cooperative management of the area.
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 are nestled within beautiful 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 goats, coyotes, black bears, bighorn sheep, ptarmigan, river otter, several species of raptor, pine marten, and cougar, to name a few.
The High Uintas Wilderness may be accessed from 16 developed trailheads surrounding the wilderness near the gateway communities of Duchesne, Roosevelt, and Kamas, UT and Evanston and Mountain View, WY. An extensive network of trails (545 miles) leads visitors deep into the wilderness, through thick forests, past rushing streams and placid lakes, to sweeping alpine vistas below majestic peaks. The opportunities for exploration are endless.
Before your next visit to any wilderness, be wilderness wise and “know before you go.” Remember, wilderness is wild and you are responsible for your personal safety. Take this responsibility seriously!
The High Uintas Wilderness is a deceptively fragile place and is being literally “loved to death” by a growing number of visitors. With increasing use and impacts to natural resources, many visitors are also having difficulty finding the wilderness experiences they seek. Please Leave No Trace of your visit, respect restrictions, and help keep the wilderness wild for future generations.