High Uintas

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High Uintas Wilderness Area

The High Uintas Wilderness preserves the wild core of the massive Uinta mountain range. Located in northeastern Utah, the Uinta Mountains were named for the Uintaats Indians, early relatives of the modern Ute Tribe. 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.

Contents

Geology

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 (97 kilometers), rising over 6,000 feet (1,829 meters) 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. 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.

High Uintas Wilderness Area

Flora and fauna

Elevations on the Uinta Mountains rise from 7,500 feet (2,286 meters) to 13,528 feet (4,123 meters) at the summit of Kings Peak, the highest peak in Utah. The range includes diverse habitats 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, pine marten, mountain lions, and about 75 percent of Utah's bird species. Occasionally, rare wolverines are spotted, and these mountains may still shelter the elusive lynx. Wolves are expected to return to the Uintas in the future, having been re-introduced in Wyoming by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Trails

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, Utah and Evanston and Mountain View, Wyoming. Most of these trails connect with the backbone of the High Uinta trail system, the Highline Trail, a 54 mile route which roughly follows the spine of the Uintas and nearly always remains above 10,000 feet. 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. The opportunities for exploration are endless.

Mining Activity

The High Uintas have a long history of mining by the Spanish, the Indians, members of the LDS church, and other prospectors. Perhaps the most legendary mine is the Sacred Mine and the Carrie Shinob, which Isaac Moore, Thomas Rhoads, and Caleb Rhoads, were given access to under the direction of Brigham Young and the Ute Indian chief, Chief Walker. It is claimed that there is enough gold and artifacts still in these mines to pay off the national debt.

Many small prospects litter the mountain range. Mining in the High Uintas brought a large amount of profit to those in the valley. The Moon Lake and surrounding areas have many large, open audits that warrant a fair amount of exploration.

High Uintas Wilderness Area

Location

40.705628, -110.519714

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