Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest
The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest (UWCNF) encompasses Utah's Wasatch Mountains adjacent to the state's northern metropolitan area, and the north slope of the High Uintas Wilderness. Containing nearly 2.1 million acres of geological and ecologically-diverse landscapes (including seven protected Designated Wilderness Areas), this collection of forest areas is one of the most frequently visited in the nation — with good reason.
Ski and summer resorts located in this forest along the Wasatch Front near Logan, Ogden, Salt Lake City and Park City provide world-renowned downhill skiing, Nordic and snowmobiling options, as well as a variety of summer activities ranging from the IMBA-certified mountain biking trails of Park City to the mountain coaster and Oktoberfest of Snowbird. Further south, American Fork Canyon and Provo Canyon offer a stunning mix of aspen and tree-covered slopes that include the zip lines, Blue Ribbon fly-fishing and singletracks of Sundance Mountain Resort, Deer Creek State Park and other destinations. Between the two canyons lies the 11,750-acre Mt. Timpanogos Wilderness.
In total, the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest is divided up into eight districts. To best reflect the needs and character of the nearby community, the forest maintains a separate supervisor's office for each district. Because of the climate and high elevation of many parts of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, some areas may be closed to automobile travel in winter, during which most of the developed campground areas close. But during the warmer months, it's a 2.1-million-area playground. Read below to start exploring it — you’ll want to start planning adventurous itineraries right away!
Things to Do
Hiking, Biking and Camping
The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest is a popular attraction, so some trails and lakes receive a lot of traffic, but the sheer size of the forest means those skilled in wayfinding and looking for solitude often need only hike a little further off the main road to find a trailhead that offers everything they seek. Dispersed (primitive camping) is permitted in most areas, but there are several considerations for safe camping. There is too much hiking and mountain biking spread across these 2.1 million acres to list it all, so a good start is to know what district you'll be in, then explore some of the hikes here. There are hundreds of must-hit trails between Park City's Mid-Mountain and the Wasatch Crest, or you might start with the gentler Eagle Rise near Brigham City or head to the resorts for lift-served downhill. We've also offered a few top hikes below, but they are only a tiny snapshot, given that the dynamic Wasatch Range is in the literal backyard of our best Northern Utah cities.
The UWCNF also offers nearly limitless opportunities to maximize your Utah fishing license on both harvest and catch-and-release waters. The forest is home to several of the top spots to go fishing in Utah, including some of the lakes of the High Uintas and stretches of the Logan, Weber, Ogden and Provo rivers, among many others. For a great family-friendly choice, Strawberry Reservoir truly has something for everyone — including renowned, "Blue Ribbon" fishing.
One feature of the magnificent forest is its scenic drives. The Mirror Lake Scenic Byway, Logan Canyon National Scenic Byway and Ogden Valley Scenic Byway each carve a fascinating and adventurous path through some of the forest's best and most beautiful terrain. The Mt. Nebo National Scenic Byway, in particular is a landscape photographers dream. The route is a 37-mile paved drive full of rugged mountain beauty and stunning overlooks of surrounding valleys. When the leaves change color each autumn, the brilliant colors found on this drive rival anywhere else in America. It features campgrounds and recreation areas, including the Devil's Kitchen Geologic Interpretive Site. The Mt. Nebo Scenic Byway features improved trailheads providing access into the spectacular Mount Nebo Wilderness, popular for day hikes, backpacking and horseback riding.
Though there are many secluded areas to enjoy brilliant, starry skies in Northern Utah, one location is a certified International Dark Sky Park — and it's not that far away. The vibrant city of Ogden is a major hub toward the upper end of the populous Wasatch Front, Utah's urban corridor. It's hard to believe, but just over the ridge line in the peaceful Ogden Valley lies a sprawling county park so ideally tucked away in a canyon the International Dark Sky Association added the park to its list of bronze-tier International Dark Sky Parks.
In addition to hosting several of Utah's top ski resorts, such as Brighton, Alta, Solitude and Snowbird, winter activities abound on the UWCNF. Here are five snowshoeing trails to try this winter, then visit the helpful forest service website to learn more about ways to enjoy the forest when the snow falls.
Eight Things To Do in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest
Three Northern Utah Gateway Adventure Towns to Visit Now
A vibrant college town only a 5-minute drive from hiking, backpacking, biking, canoeing, fishing, and bird watching.
It's Main Street archway proclaims "Gateway to the World's Greatest Wild Bird Refuge." The historic main drag serves as part of a base camp to year-round adventure and vast tranquility of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.
Near Park City, the Heber Valley is an idyllic destination and gateway to a handful of Utah's best state parks, endless OHV trails, Blue Ribbon fishing on the Provo River, and multiple national forests.
Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest
Forest HQ: 857 West South Jordan Parkway
South Jordan, UT 84095-8594