Wilderness Wise

People visit wilderness in search of a special experience that is literally defined by its wild character. The wilderness experience is truly unique, but it can be very challenging and it’s not for everyone. If your activity is not “wilderness-dependent” or you would prefer a less primitive experience, contact one of the Forest Service offices below. We would be happy to help you find an alternative destination, particularly if you have a larger group. This helps ensure a more pleasant trip for you and less impact to the experiences of wilderness visitors.

Getting Lost or Injured

Visitors to the High Uintas Wilderness, or any remote area, should travel with a good map and possess orienteering and basic wildland survival skills. If you lack these skills, for your safety, consider a less remote destination or acquire them before your visit. Practice them someplace familiar to you before leaving on your trip. A wilderness emergency is not the time to learn them! Classes are often available through university extensions, outdoor education programs, or outdoor retailers. A motivated student can teach themselves these skills, with good instructional materials available at most outdoor retailers and bookstores.

Visitors become lost or injured in the High Uintas Wilderness every year. Remember that the wilderness is a vast and remote area, and it can be very difficult to locate or get help to a lost or injured person. Familiarize the group with the area, stay together, leave an itinerary with someone at home, have wilderness first aid skills and basic medical supplies, and be sure that every member of the group has a copy of the map and knows how to use it. Don’t become a victim!


The wilderness can change from warm and inviting to extremely hostile if you’re poorly equipped for challenging conditions. Good outdoor equipment and the ability to use it properly can make the difference between a safe and enjoyable wilderness experience and a miserable or even life-threatening event. Purchase, borrow, or rent the right equipment. Don’t improvise!

Basic Equipment Checklist

  • Sleeping Bag & Pad
  • Tent & Ground Cloth
  • Rain Gear
  • Warm Jacket & Pants
  • Sun Protection
  • Insect Repellent
  • Extra Clothing
  • Sturdy Boots
  • Water Filter or Iodine
  • Stove & Mess Kit
  • Matches or Lighter
  • Flashlight or Headlamp
  • Adequate Food
  • Water Bottles
  • Trowel (For Catholes)
  • Toiletries
  • Map & Compass
  • First Aid & Survival Kits


Mountain weather can change rapidly at any time and is especially unpredictable in the higher elevations of the High Uintas Wilderness. Thunderstorms can move in without warning and temperatures can drop quickly. When storms threaten, avoid ridge tops, summits, open areas, and large trees or rock outcrops that may attract lightning. But, hypothermia is the most serious threat to unprepared wilderness visitors. Even if the weather is good, always pack rain gear and a jacket and pants to keep you dry and warm in the worst conditions.


Water sources in the High Uintas Wilderness are plentiful and among the purest in the West, but the water may still be unsafe to drink. Giardia, cryptosporidium, and other nasty waterborne microbes may be present at any time in any water source. Filter, purify, treat, or boil all drinking water.

Snowmelt can swell rivers and streams during the heat of the day, especially in early summer, and snow remaining on mountain passes can be hard and icy or soft and unstable. Use extreme caution when crossing rivers, streams, and snowfields. This is where most wilderness accidents occur.