The Uinta Mountains of Utah are a magical wilderness of beauty and extremes. Situated on the Utah, Wyoming border they are the only range of the Rocky Mountains that run east to west. The 'Uintas' have many peaks ranging from 11,000-13,528 feet with King's Peak being the highest.
Uinta Mountains Photography
The Mirror Lake Highway, State Route 150, crosses over the western half of the Uintas beginning in Kamas, Utah and ending in Evanston, Wyoming. The Mirror Lake Highway is the highest paved road in Utah, topping at Bald Mountain Pass with an elevation of 10,715 feet.
The High Uintas Wilderness encompasses 456,705 acres and stretches nearly 60 miles east to west. It is a spectacular area with hundreds of glacier-formed lakes reflecting blue skies and Utah's highest peaks in clear, cold water. This area was legally designated as wilderness in 1984, by the Utah Wilderness Act. The intent of wilderness designation is to preserve parts of the earth as places dominated by natural forces, not man. People are visitors who do not remain, but who can watch and learn how nature works without human interference.
Because of this special designation, it is important for wilderness visitors to travel lightly with minimum impact on the land. Travel by foot or horseback, and in small groups. Hide your campsite away from lakes and trails so all visitors may have a peaceful and private experience. Keep fires small or use a camp stove. Keep your eyes and ears open to the beauty and wildness around you.
The Mirror Lake Highway in the Uinta Mountains, Utah is one of my favorite places. It is a very popular location for photographing, camping, fishing and hiking. The Mirror Lake, Moosehorn, and Trial Lake Campgrounds are just a few of the many wonderful places to camp and enjoy the amazing wilderness in the Uinta Mountains.
I love spending every season of the year in the Uintas. Ever since I was a child I have had some grand adventures in this wilderness landscape. When I was a child my father moved to Mountain View, Wyoming which has easy access to the East Smith's Fork and the Henry's Fork of the Green River. I will never forget riding in his truck to cut wood near China Meadows and seeing the dark forests of Lodgepole Pine, like something out of a fairytale. Even then the forest and mountains called to me to explore their secrets and wander in their vastness.
The Uinta Mountains have a wonderful variety of wildlife. Mule deer, elk and moose are common to see in the forests, and near lakes, rivers and streams. In the higher elevations on the peaks and ridgelines you can find mountain goats and bighorn sheep. Black bear, mountain lion, coyotes, and bobcat are also in abundance and in recent years there have been sightings of wolves, wolverine and lynx. Over the years there has been talk of grizzly bears being in the Uintas and more recently talk of reintroducing them. Eagles, osprey and owls are also common to see. Some people even claim to have seen bigfoot in remote areas of the Uinta Mountains. Who knows? There is a lot of vast wilderness in this range that few people ever visit.
Nighttime in the Uintas will show you some of the most amazing night skies. During the summer months the Milky Way Galaxy is easy to see on clear nights stretching from south to north. Finding ponds and lakes to photograph the Milky Way reflecting in will keep you out until the early morning hours but it is worth every minute and will bring you a lifetime of memories.
You never know who you will bump into in the dark while out photographing the night sky in the Uintas. One night while photographing Comet Neowise I met the master of nightscapes himself, Royce Bair! I have found the Uinta Mountains to be the most productive place to photograph the night sky.
The Uinta Mountains is also one of the premier places in the west to photograph wildflowers. From Christmas Meadows to basins on the Highline Trail, the summer months give ample opportunity to find scenes with Indian Paintbrush, Daisies, Lupine, Columbine, and many other beautiful wildflowers. In most cases you will hike for miles to find the right scene but the solitude the Uintas offer will be good for your soul and truly bring you back in touch with nature.
Winter can be a very rewarding time of year to visit the Uinta Mountains. You can stay at the Bear River Lodge, which is on the Mirror Lake Highway south of Evanston Wyoming. They rent snowmobiles and side by sides with cat tracks and you can cruise the Mirror Lake Highway all the way to the top of Bald Mountain Pass. My wife and I did this the end of March 2020 and only saw three other people on the road, it was amazing!
If you want solitude, relief from the daily hassle of life and to find yourself again, spending time in nature is one of the best ways to accomplish your goal. The Uinta Mountains of Utah are a vast wilderness full of wildlife, forests, rivers, lakes and rugged snow capped peaks. Always have your camera ready because you never know what you might see. I have found it worth my time to sit for hours watching over a sweeping view and using binoculars to find interesting objects I can then isolate with the camera.
Beware of changing weather conditions because at these altitudes it can snow even in the summer. Make sure you take proper gear, a flashlight, a way to make fire, a GPS app like AllTrails on your phone and a rain coat. In the fall months make sure to take some warm cloths in your pack in case you have to hike out after dark. If you would like, watch this video of one of my adventures in the Uinta Mountains.