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Uinta Mountains
This view of Kings Peak and the Henry's Fork Basin shows the cliff bands and basins typical throughout the Uintas.
Country United States
States Utah, Colorado
Part of Rocky Mountains
Highest point Kings Peak
 - elevation 13,528 ft (4,123 m)
 - coordinates 40°46′34″N 110°22′22″W / 40.776111°N 110.372778°W / 40.776111; -110.372778
Geology quartzite, shale, and slate
Period Precambrian

The Uinta Mountains (pronounced /juːˈɪntə/) are a high chain of mountains in northeastern Utah and extreme northwestern Colorado in the United States. A subrange of the Rocky Mountains, they are unusual for being the highest range in the contiguous United States running east to west[1], and lie approximately 100 mi (160 km) east of Salt Lake City. The peaks range in height from 11,000-13,500 ft (3,400-4,100 m), with the highest being Kings Peak at 13,528 ft (4,123 m), the highest point in Utah. The Mirror Lake Highway crosses the western half of the Uintas on its way to Wyoming.



The rocks in the core of the Uinta Mountains are of Neoproterozoic age [2] (between about 700 million and 800 million years old) and consist primarily of quartzite, shale, and slate. These rocks comprise the Uinta Mountain Group, and reach thicknesses of 4 to 7.3 kilometers (13,000 to 24,000 feet). Most of the high peaks are in outcrops of the Uinta Mountain Group. Many of the peaks are ringed with bands of cliffs, rising to broad or flat tops.[3]

The flanks of the east-west trending Uinta Mountains contain a sequence of Paleozoic and Mesozoic strata ranging from the Cambrian Lodore Formation to the Cretaceous Mancos Formation, all of which have been tilted during the uplift of the mountain range.

The uplift of the range dates to the Laramide orogeny, about 70 to 50 million years ago, when compressive forces produced high-angle reverse faults on both north and south sides of the present mountain range. The east-west orientation of the Uintas is anomalous compared to most of the ranges of the northern Rocky Mountains; it may relate to changing stress patterns and rotation of the Colorado Plateau [4]

The high Uintas were extensively glaciated during the last ice age, and most of the large stream valleys on both the north and south sides of the range held long valley glaciers. [5]

In between the summits and ridgelines are wide level basins, with some 500 small lakes. One of the most popular lakes is Mirror Lake because of its good fishing and scenic views.


Hayden Peak and Mount Agassiz seen from Bald Mountain. The Uintas provide the majority of the water for the Wasatch Front.

The south and east sides of the range are largely within the Colorado River watershed. The Green River, the principal tributary of the Colorado, flows in a tight arc around the eastern side of the range. The Bear and Weber Rivers, the two largest tributaries of Great Salt Lake, rise on the northern side of the range. The Provo River, the largest tributary to Utah Lake, rises in the southern side of the range. Utah Lake itself drains via the Jordan River into Great Salt Lake: thus, Great Salt Lake receives a majority of its water from the Uinta Range. Large portions of the mountain range receive over 500 in (1,250 cm) of snow and 60 in (150 cm) of precipitation annually. The high Uintas are snowcapped year-round except for late July through early September.

There are more than 400 miles of streams in these mountains, along with 1,000 ice-cold lakes and ponds. Over half of these lakes are managed to provide some of the best high-country fishing found anywhere. [6]


Nearly the entire range lies within Wasatch-Cache National Forest (on the north and west) and Ashley National Forest (on the south and east). The highest peaks of the range are protected as part of the High Uintas Wilderness. The forests contain many species of trees including lodgepole pine and subalpine fir.

Points of Interest

Gilbert Peak seen from lake 151.

The Uintas are home to Camp Steiner, the highest boy scout camp in the United States at 10,400 feet. The camp is near mile marker 33 of the Mirror Lake Highway.

The Highline Trail traverses the entire range and is a popular backpacking trail.

See also


  1. ^ "Kings Peak, Utah". Retrieved 2008-02-23.  
  2. ^ Paleomagnetic results from the Neoproterozoic Uinta Mountain Group
  3. ^ John McPhee, Basin and Range, New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1981, pp.198-199.
  4. ^ Hamilton, W.B., 1981, Plate-tectonic mechanism of Laramide deformation, in Boyd, D.W., and Lillegraven, J.A., eds., Rocky Mountain foreland basement tectonics: University of Wyoming Contributions to Geology, v. 19, p. 87–92.
  5. ^ Utah Geological Survey. "Are there glaciers in Utah’s mountains?". Retrieved 2008-04-11.  
  6. ^ Probst, Jeffrey, and Probst, Brad, Hiking Utah's High Uintas, pg. 3, Morris Book Publishing, LLC, 2006 ISBN 0762739118
  • Davis, Mel, and Veranth, John, High Uinta Trails, Salt Lake City: Wasatch Publishers, 1988 (3rd edition) ISBN 0915272377
  • Hansen, Wallace R. The Geologic Story of the Uinta Mountains, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1975


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