Start with a little volcanic ruckus for inspiration, mold into shape, and finish it off with glaciers. Thanks to earth’s handiwork 15 million years ago, we are treated today to the pointy peaks, cerulean alpine lakes, and emerald green valleys of Utah’s Wasatch Range.
From southeastern Idaho, the Wasatch Range follows a 250-mile, southern track to north central Utah, and is littered with peaks above 11,000 feet, including Mt. Nebo, the range’s high point at 11,928 feet. These mountains are steeped in Native American history—a Shoshoni leader named “wasattsi” was the inspiration for naming the Wasatch Range. (Wasatch in the Ute language means “mountain pass”.)
Plentiful water, timber, and granite mining in the range have been critical to the state’s population since the days of earliest settlers. Even today, the majority of the state’s population lives less than 20 miles from these mountains; largely in an 80-mile corridor from Brigham City to Salt Lake City to Provo.
Utah’s prized geologic possession
The Wasatch Range is a very special place to locals and long-time and new visitors from across the country. Nerve center of outdoor recreation for the state, the Wasatch is one of the most revered alpine playgrounds in the western US. Boasting life list alpine scenery, natives and guests can hike, bike, camp, climb, snowshoe and of course ski with verve. An outdoor playground indeed and once you’ve been here you’ll understand what all the fuss is about.
If you love to ski or snowboard and live and breathe powder, or have only just had a taste of this exhilarating winter sport, look no further. Low humidity and lake-effect from the Great Salt Lake dumps upwards of 500 inches of heavenly powder snow on the Wasatch Range and well lives up to Utah’s reputation as “The Greatest Snow on Earth”.
Nearly a full dozen ski areas dot the range from Sundance to Wolf Mountain, including world-renowned Alta and neighboring Snowbird. These two resorts alone are largely responsible for cementing Utah’s go-to destination for legendarily light and fluffy powder snow. Put it on your bucket list.
If you’re happiest in hiking boots, untold miles of trails twist and turn and climb up and down cover shot-worthy mountain terrain. Stroll an easy path through a Crayola palette of alpine wildflowers or hike with the kids to a secret lake spirited away in a rugged canyon.
Feel like getting further afield? Cinch up a backpack and disappear for days in the Wasatch Front’s designated wilderness areas. Best of all, the big three wilderness areas—Lone Pine, Mount Olympus, and Twin Peaks—are practically within shouting distance of Salt Lake City.
The canyons are another big draw and easily one of Utah’s headliner features. If you’re a fan of canyon life, exploring their mysterious recesses, or simply cruising through on a road trip; the Wasatch offers seven fascinating canyons for whatever your pleasure, from developed resort areas to backcountry solitude.
Arguably the most popular is Little Cottonwood Canyon, 15 miles of elegantly rugged beauty and home to Alta and Snowbird’s feathery powder. Over in the Utah Valley you’ll find Sundance Mountain, Timpanogos Cave National Monument, and Provo Canyon for world-class fly-fishing and rafting, along with a lifetime of options for self-propelled enjoyment from hiking to mountaineering.
Fat tire freedom
For decades, Utah has been synonymous with mountain biking. Moab’s mystique rightly claims much of that deserved reputation but the Wasatch Range proper also features some of the best fat tire riding in the entire country, including the heavy hitter Bonneville Shoreline Trail in the foothills near Salt Lake City. Make tracks on 100 miles of trail from convenient starting points throughout the valley. Other local favorites include national forest riding in Little and Big Cottonwood canyons, the Wasatch Crest, and lift-served riding at the ski areas.
How’s this for fueling your Utah-based camping cravings: More than 300 public campgrounds, 40 national park and other federal camping areas, and endless public lands and national forest land. The Wasatch Front’s regions close to Salt Lake City offer campgrounds ideal for launch pads for short excursions, while the canyons and backcountry beckon more adventurous souls.
It’s all here in the Wasatch. Come join us.
Experience the Wasatch Mountains in style at Alta’s Snowpine Lodge. Contact us today at (801) 742-2000.