Do, do, do, looking out my backdoor

When people think of big mountains in the US, they think of the Rocky Mountains; which is pretty much correct. Even though the highest point in the lower 48 is actually in the Sierra Nevada Range near the California/Nevada border. Everyone seems to associate the Rocky Mountains with Colorado, which is fine too because Rocky Mountain National Park is located there. However, the Rocky Mountains are actually a series of mountain ranges that stretch from Canada to New Mexico. When most people think of Rocky Mountains, they envision The Grand Tetons, and while impressive they don't present the whole story either. I'm not a snob looking for the perfect definition of the Rockies, but I'd like to share my little corner of them with you. I live on the North Slope of the Uinta Mountains which run along Wyoming's Southwest border with Utah. They are pretty impressive in their own right.

Is it Uinta or Uintah?

It all depends on where you are standing

There are two different spellings for the same mountain range; the one preferred in Utah, Uintah, and the one preferred in Wyoming, Uinta. Either way, they both describe the highest East to West running mountain range in the contiguous US. When you look at them on a map you can really see what I am talking about. If you are someone who relies heavily on landmarks to find direction, you will be perpetually lost the entire time you are visiting here.

How Big is Big?

It's all relative

I live about 15 miles from the nearest trail head that will get you up into the high country. When you look at pictures that I take close to my house, the mountains still seem pretty far away. The real size of this panorama is 2′ by 16′. Don’t let the perspective deceive you. Those suckers are pretty huge and you get into the high country a lot faster than you think. The Highline Trail that runs across the top of them is over 50 miles long. Another thing to consider is the town I live in is close to 7000 ft. above sea level (for those of you into math and that sort of thing, Denver might be a mile high, but they still fall short). The Uintas range from 8,500 ft. above sea level to their highest point, King’s Peak, at 13,528 ft. above sea level. They are also peculiar because they have the most land above the treeline (9,800 ft. above sea level) in the contiguous US. I have heard that the Uintas tie with the San Juans in Colorado for this, but I couldn’t find a definitive source to confirm this.

To put all of this into perspective, most of the population living in the US lives at or near sea level. That means if you could look down a cliff from where I live at 7,000 ft. to sea level it would be 560 building stories tall. The Empire State Building is 104 or so. The Uintas rise another 6,500 ft. from there. To drive East to West is about 180 miles. To drive across them at their widest point is about 50 miles. Yeah, they are big.

Why Have I Never Heard of The Uintas?

A pretty obvious secret don't you think...

They are pretty hard to miss on a map, and even driving across I-80 in Wyoming you can’t miss them. So, why is it that they aren’t a huge tourist destination? The reasons are many, but probably the biggest factor is accessibility. There are hundreds of miles of trails up there, and a disgusting amount of great fishing on lakes and streams, but you are going to have to work to get there. It isn’t one of those places that you pull up in a minivan, let the kids out, and holler, “We’re here!” If you want to enjoy the Uintas, you are going to have to work for it. Paved roads are few and far between here on the North Slope; and access from the South Slope, while more abundant and paved is still quite primitive. That doesn’t mean that the average joe can’t enjoy them, but the area doesn’t support the kinds of crowds drawn to national parks like Glacier.

Now That I Know, I Want To See

I don't blame you, they are fascinating to me and I see them everyday

Broody Winter Day If you are planning a trip through this area, and you want to get a close up look at the Uintas without mounting a full on pack expedition; there are two great ways. You can take the Mirror Lake Highway that runs from Evanston, WY to Kamas, UT, through the western edge of the Uintas. It is perfect for a peaceful drive with your family, with plenty of places to stop and look and get a little fresh air. If you ride motorcycles, this is an absolutely amazing day ride; just remember to pack a lunch. The second and lesser known route (which is my personal favorite) takes you across the Bollies or eastern edge of the Uintas from Manilla, UT to Vernal, UT. You get a few glimpses of Flaming Gorge this way, and much less traffic. You can even stop for lunch or dinner at Red Canyon Lodge on your way, and it is always a treat.

For the more adventurous, packing in the Uintas is an unbelievable experience. Because it is mostly wilderness area, you have most of the place to yourself. Trails going into places like King’s Peak are busy, but there are many others that remain almost uninhabited. Leaving from the North Slope, you can easily gain access to King’s Peak and Red Castle. Red Castle is a little busier, but it is also perfect for people who just want to pack in and camp for the weekend.

There's Gold In Them Thar Hills

It's just that nobody can find it, lol

My Family Has Been Enjoying These Mountains for 6 Generations One of the funnest parts of living near the Uintas is all the amazing folklore about them. Did Cortez find a lost city of gold here? There are certainly Spanish ruins that make it seem plausible. What about the Lost Rhodes Mine and the secret squirrel stash of Mormon gold hidden up in the high country? Local folklore and family histories certainly hint at it. What about all the loot from Butch Cassidy’s gang? His hideouts are well documented and mapped. However, the real treasures most people find in the Uintas are family fun and solitude, which are priceless. Besides, I’ll get in trouble if I tell you the truth. It would be a shame to spill the beans on Uinta Gold after keeping the secret so well for 6 generations.

Uinta Gold = Family Fun

We go up to the mountains all the time, but our favorite thing to do is our annual snow party

Critters!

Oh, yeah, there's a bunch of wildlife too

Do you like moose? Elk? Mule Deer? Black Bears? The Uintas are lousy with them. Not to mention a fair smattering of Rainbows and Cutthroat Trout and a fine representation of Raptors like Golden Eagels and Red Tail Hawks. I pretty much can’t leave the house without running into some kind of wild critter. If you are planning a visit, bring your camera. If you are planning a hunt, get in line. Tags for non-residents are hard to come by. We’d really prefer it if you knew what you were doing too. Every year some out of towner shoots somebody’s black cow claiming they thought it was a moose. I’m not pointing fingers, but it’s usually a Californian. You can’t dispute facts printed in the police blotter.

What Do You Think of My Mountains?

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  • Max_Globe Jan 16, 2014 @ 9:44 am
    My my, these mountains have seen a lot of history. It is a very underrated location, thanks for opening it up to many of us.
  • leahjsongs Jan 15, 2014 @ 12:22 am
    I just became the Coast-to-Coast U. S. Travel Contributor here on Squidoo. This lens is exactly the kind of thing I love and am looking for. Where the beautiful, the quirky, the historic, the obvious or the out-of-the-way places are in America that everyone should try to see. Great lens introducing me to the Uintas. Congrats on LOTD honors!
  • michelle-marble-71 Jan 14, 2014 @ 10:14 am
    I love the Uinta's i've been going there my whole life! I am from N. Utah and now live in Cheyenne, WY and even though we are close to the Rockies i still love the Uinta's the most. The pine beatle sure has wreaked havoc on the beautiful pines, which is very sad. It is still beautiful however!
  • lollyj Jan 14, 2014 @ 10:13 am
    I've never seen that part of the country but always wanted to. Thanks so much for giving me this great guided tour. Congrats on the well deserved LOTD.
  • TravelTourist Jan 14, 2014 @ 3:48 am
    I am jealous to be honest, I live in Australia at the moment and we are making a huge effort to move to the US at least for a year or two just to see if we like it and Wyoming is high on our list of places to move to.
    I had not heard of these mountains but they are now high on my list of places to visit and possible move to.
  • penny-richens Jan 14, 2014 @ 11:41 am
    You would be welcome here. There are lots of opportunities for employment on both the Wyoming and Utah sides of the Uintas. Housing prices are moderate, and in Wyoming you do not pay state income tax. If you need more information about the area, or help planning a trip to see things out here, I would be glad to hook you up.
  • Miratex Jan 14, 2014 @ 12:37 am
    Which Indian tribe lived here in the past?
  • michelle-marble-71 Jan 14, 2014 @ 10:12 am
    I think the Ute and Shoshone Indian tribes
  • penny-richens Jan 14, 2014 @ 11:43 am
    Well, Uinta is derived from the word Ute. The Ute people still live on the South Slope.
  • MrAusAdventure Jan 14, 2014 @ 12:35 am
    Absolutely awesome! You are right, I have never heard of them! I love that part of the USA but have not ventured that far north in Utah as yet. Someday hopefully, someday! You live at almost the same altitude as the highest mountain in Australia! Congrats on LOTD! :-)
  • luggnutz13 Jan 14, 2014 @ 12:13 am
    I remember coming to Utah in 1991 (USAF) and thinking how much I would hate it!!! the next morning when I woke up, I was astounded by the beautiful mountains. ( I am still to this day)
  • RubyHRose Jan 14, 2014 @ 12:11 am
    Those mountains are really great. Saw them on our way to Wyoming. We had gold panning with some friends. Congrats on LOTD and a purple star. Got my attention with singing some favorite songs. You for sure got an awesome view out your back door! Keep heading west over the cascade mountains towards the sea, you will be a little closer to me.
  • favored1 Jan 13, 2014 @ 11:18 pm
    They are beautiful, I can see why you love it there. Congratulations on LotD.
  • DebMartin Jan 13, 2014 @ 9:29 pm
    I would love to visit your area. I love wild lands and wildlife.
  • jsr54 Jan 13, 2014 @ 9:11 pm
    I think you made me want to visit them!!! What a great lens, taking us on a trip that most of us probably won't get to take. But, if I am in your part of the country, I will add the Uinta Mountains to my list of things to see. Congrats on LOTD!
  • KandH Jan 13, 2014 @ 8:43 pm
    I think they're cool, thanks for sharing! Well deserved LOTD :)
  • Anonymous831 Jan 13, 2014 @ 7:57 pm
    Great Lens. Love the mountains.
  • joinyobsn Jan 13, 2014 @ 7:18 pm
    Congrats on getting your lens LOTD :) terrific information shared on Utah
  • victoriuh Jan 13, 2014 @ 7:06 pm
    I lived in Utah for many years. Thanks for highlighting these beautiful mountains.
  • Jan 13, 2014 @ 6:03 pm
    Great travel lens. Congratulations on getting LotD!
  • MisterManCave Jan 13, 2014 @ 5:44 pm
    never been before.. but now I'm looking forward to visiting. thanks ;-)
  • RinchenChodron Jan 13, 2014 @ 5:24 pm
    We live in a beautiful country and world for that matter. I'm from Colorado so I prefer MY mountains but yours are nice too. Congrats on your LOTD.
  • ASMMohiuddin Jan 13, 2014 @ 4:54 pm
    A nice place in the world. Thanks for good lens.
  • jennabeezer Jan 13, 2014 @ 2:50 pm
    I love the peace and serenity afforded by your mountain view. I have my own little slice of mountain heaven here in Idaho. Enjoyed your photos!
  • penny-richens Jan 13, 2014 @ 4:33 pm
    Idaho is my second favorite place. I love everyone I've ever met from there. It may be known for it's potatoes, but in my experience it's best export is it's people :)
  • saloni-gupta-7161 Jan 13, 2014 @ 2:23 pm
    can u tell how did u edit font color and put the intro image?
  • penny-richens Jan 13, 2014 @ 2:40 pm
    The font is green because I chose the Gone Camping theme for my lens. As far as editing the intro image, you can change anything you want by clicking edit on the introduction of your lens. If you are new to Squidoo, try checking out the tutorials at http://hq.squidoo.com/
  • saloni-gupta-7161 Jan 13, 2014 @ 2:23 pm
    can u tell how did u edit font color and put the intro image?
  • d-artist Jan 13, 2014 @ 1:57 pm
    Congratulations on LOTD! I have seen these mountains driving to California, but never knew the name...nice informative and well written lens.
  • TomMaybrier Jan 13, 2014 @ 1:23 pm
    They're much prettier than the ones I get to see in Los Angeles. Great lens!
  • ChocolateLily Jan 13, 2014 @ 12:43 pm
    Congratulations on your LOTD. Beautiful!
  • AnitaJax Jan 13, 2014 @ 12:08 pm
    A beautiful corner of the world.
  • seleenf Jan 13, 2014 @ 12:06 pm
    charming, I'd Like to climb that mountain
  • Colin323 Jan 13, 2014 @ 10:50 am
    Wild, big and beautiful. You are lucky to live near to such a great place.
  • flora-crew Jan 13, 2014 @ 10:42 am
    They sound enchanting.
  • trevorjb1406 Jan 13, 2014 @ 10:08 am
    Hi, They look great and so does your lens. Being based in the UK my knowledge of America is basic, I have to admit, but this looks like a really fun area, especially if you trip on a gold nugget!
  • StrongMay Jan 13, 2014 @ 10:04 am
    They sound like a lovely place I'd like to visit. I love mountain views, possibly more than any other view.
  • StephenJParkin Jan 13, 2014 @ 9:59 am
    I just hope that people like Butch Cassidy and Sundance have long since left the place! It makes it a little more clear as to how they avoided the posses for so long! Well done on the LOTD.
  • Titia Jan 13, 2014 @ 9:19 am
    Congrats on the LOTD. Looks like a nice place, but I would have loved to see more of your photos.
  • penny-richens Jan 13, 2014 @ 9:52 am
    The funny this about it is I don't generally take my camera with me. It's not much fun to pack into fishing holes. The other thing is you can take pictures of parts of them, but you can't take pictures of all of them. The panorama on the How Big is Big section is 2' x 16' in reality. They are a little tricky to photograph.
  • Merrci Jan 13, 2014 @ 8:57 am
    It sounds like a wonderful place to live. Congrats on Lens of the Day! It was a very interesting read with lots of fun facts! In my dreams, I'd love to wander through those mountains for a few weeks!
  • ratetea Jan 13, 2014 @ 8:49 am
    I've been nearish but not quite to this region...the only time I visited Utah, we didn't get quite that far north. I love lush green forests though; it's exciting to me to see how even in a desert climate like Utah, you can get forests and trees growing if you go up to a high enough elevation.
  • RoadMonkey Jan 13, 2014 @ 8:27 am
    Those mountains sound amazing. I live at sea level (literally, right beside the sea), so living at 7,000 feet would be quite something. Can't say I would be too happy to see a black bear but I love walking and those mountains sound wild, untouched and peaceful and probably a bit dangerous if you don't know what you are doing.
  • Susan52 Jan 13, 2014 @ 7:39 am
    Back to say congratulations on your well-deserved Lens of the Day!
  • ShirlW Jan 13, 2014 @ 6:09 am
    Well done and much deserved LotD! Congratulations!
  • esmonaco Jan 13, 2014 @ 5:15 am
    I think your mountains are beautiful, thanks so much for the tour, and I loved your pictures. If I'm ever out there I'll be looking for that Gold!! Congratulations on LOTD!!
  • scarlettohairy Jan 13, 2014 @ 1:25 am
    I bet I've seen them. I lived in Colorado for years and went through Wyoming a few times. I heard the name Uinta as a street name in Colorado Springs.
  • glockr Jan 13, 2014 @ 1:21 am
    Actually, the highest peak in the lower 48 is Mt. Whitney, which is in the Sierra Nevada range. The Sierra Madre is a much smaller range located near the Pacific Coast in southern California.
  • penny-richens Jan 13, 2014 @ 9:55 am
    Thanks for posting this, I suppose I consider everything near the West Coast the Sierra Madres. Kind of like people think that all the mountains out here are the Rockies. I'm going to change that.
  • Susan52 Jan 09, 2014 @ 5:04 pm
    Cool! And what an interesting geography/history lesson! I'm curious about the weather. Where I live we have what we call a freaky east wind that most definitely affects our weather (it's why we stayed cold today while the area around us warmed up). I'm wondering how it is living on the north-facing slope of an east-west mountain range. Bet you have some wild winds, too, among other things. Feel free to fill me in - I'll check back.
  • penny-richens Jan 09, 2014 @ 6:01 pm
    We do get strange weather. Everywhere else can be getting snow, but it will blow around our little valley here. You can actually look at the sky and see the storm open up and go around us. Wind is a little bit of an issue, but not as bad on the river bottom where I live. People who live on the benches have almost constant wind.
  • Susan52 Jan 09, 2014 @ 6:11 pm
    Thanks for the additional information. Sounds like you love it there - and that's the most important part!
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