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Ah, the Uintas. What more can one say, but "Ahhhhhh"? The feeling I get while in the Uintas is equal to a great sigh of relief that lifts away all of the inner turmoils that plague a work-beaten soul.
The roof of the great state of Utah, this mountain range is home to hundreds (thousands?) of high mountain lakes and streams. Wildlife thrives in this rich wilderness of densely wooded forests, grassy meadows, rocky peaks, deep gorges, and water.
While ascending to the high country, it's easy to get side tracked by the upper reaches of the Provo River. The little rainbows, cutts, and brookies are quite aggressive and will readily take most lures including my favorite, the #2 Blue Fox Vibrax in gold.
The pathway that the river has carved is spectacular and demands attention while driving by:
The fish are everywhere in here and most people ignore the river on their way to the lakes above.
Just before the first group of lakes encountered by the road, Provo River Falls tumbles down the staircase shelves of rock for a stretch and a quick hike to wet the line along with the sight-seeing is a must. The local chipmunks are extremely friendly and the falls are great camera fodder.
From May until October, the Uintas are a perfect destination for a pleasant drive through the wild country, an all day hike, a fishing trip, or a week long pilgrimage. The population knows it and the Mirror Lake Scenic Hwy (US 150) gets heavy use during these fair weather months.
It's not too common in Utah to see a paved road at 10,700 feet in elevation, but this is the case at Bald Mountain Pass (Hayden Peak in the center).
Nice view from the pass:
The highway winds its way between tall peaks and provides easy access to a multitude of lakes. As should be expected, the road side lakes are stocked and fished quite heavily. One of my favorite little roadside lakes is Teapot Lake.
Teapot is the first natural lake that the highway passes (coming from Kamas, Utah) and it's a great place to get a feel for the Uintas if you don't mind sharing that feeling with a small crowd. It's pleasing to the eyes and very easy to navigate around. This makes it perfect for taking the family.
For a fisherman that usually fishes reservoirs, it's refreshing to see green vegetation all the way to the water's edge, as Nature intended.
Obviously the fish in such an easily accessible lake don't get too large, but I find that by late season, the remaining fish fill in quite well.
With a little effort, visitors can discover the true draw of the Uintas and hike into the less popular lakes. Getting away from the hoards can be done in as little as 2 miles by foot and some very rewarding fishing can be had by those who made the trek.
The species range from mountain whitefish, rainbows, cutts, brook trout, tiger trout and arctic grayling. There are even a couple of surviving populations of golden trout from stockings in the 70's. Fishermen are generally soft-spoken about their honey holes in the high country, but good sized fish can be found.
The average size of the fish is usually on the smaller side, but people don't really pay a visit expecting any trophies.
From reservoirs that see a million people per year to high lakes that may only see a handful, it's a society-spoiling event to explore this land. There's so much water, a fisherman could try all his life and never get to all of it. He'd still die happy though, having been where he had.
In the back of my mind, I'm quite sure that my Uinta adventures have only begun...
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