Beat the Heat, Hike and Fish Utah's High Mountains
|Whiskey Island Lake in the Uintas, by Dave Webb|
We are now moving into the hottest part of summer but you don't have to simply endure the heat. Temperatures are much cooler in Utah's high mountains. Even in southern Utah, where red rock desert is the norm, there are cool mountains where you will find spectacular timber, alpine meadows, cascading streams and picture-perfect lakes.
The High Uintas and Boulder Mountain are famous destinations for hiking/backpacking and horsepacking in wilderness settings. But there are plenty of other high mountain areas that provide great summer escapes. Some of my favorites that are not as well know include:
- La Sal Mountains east of Moab
- Pine Valley Mountains northeast of St. George
- Cedar Mountain east of Cedar City
- Skyline Drive through Central Utah
- Deep Creek Mountains in our West Desert
- Tushar Mountains in Central Utah
- Monte Cristo Range near Logan
- Book Cliffs southwest of Price
Utah's Division of Wildlife Resources has this great information about fishing the High Uintas and Boulder Mountain. Below are excerpts.
(DWR's Paul) Birdsey says trout feed actively when the water temperature is between 55 and 65 degrees. "Fifty five to 65 degrees is the ideal water temperature for trout," he says. "And, fortunately, that's the temperature high-elevation lakes in Utah stay at throughout the summer. That's the main reason they're such great places to fish."
While high-elevation waters throughout Utah provide quality fishing in the summer, the Uinta Mountains and the Boulder Mountains should top your list of places to visit.
If you're willing to "travel off the beaten path," a unique experience is waiting for you. In 2012, the DWR started stocking golden trout in the Uintas.
"These fish, native to California, are some of the most colorful of all trout," Birdsey says. "Starting in 2012, they were reintroduced to several lakes in the Uintas."
While you won't catch a fish that's trophy-sized, you will have a chance to catch one of the most unique fish in the state. You can see where golden trout have been stocked by visiting the DWR's online stocking report.
Birdsey says brook, cutthroat and tiger trout are the trout you'll usually find on the Uintas and the Boulders. "All of these species are more aggressive than the rainbow trout most anglers are used to catching," he says. "A lure that flashes quickly through the water — like a spinner — is something brooks, cutthroats and tigers will go after."
In the High Uintas it often rains for brief periods every days, and it can snow any day of the year. When you go, go prepared.
-- Dave Webb