Park City's Backyard: The 8 Best Adventures In The Uintas

The Uinta Mountains are Utah’s diamond in the (not so) rough.

By: Utah.com
May 19, 2015

Save List
3 Saves

The Uinta Mountains, an hour east of Park City, are not a household name outside of Utah, but they really should be. When it comes to beautiful scenery, options for outdoor activities and proximity to one of the nation's best mountain towns, the Uintas can't be beat. Other than the Great Salt Lake and maybe Lake Powell, most people may not associate Utah with an excess of lakes. The Uintas put the lie to this assumption with a heavy peppering of gorgeous mountain lakes, flowing streams and endless trails in between. Take all the beauty of the Uintas, add in the fact that you can spend a weekend here without seeing more than a handful of people, and you've got a great argument for keeping the place secret. Get outside and explore the Uintas, then head to Park City for a bite and a beer.

1. Kings Peak

Photo: Jacob Moon

King's Peak is Utah's tallest mountain at 13,527 feet. As you can imagine, the views from the summit are unbelievable. Spend a weekend hiking and camping in the Uintas and cross this thirteener off of your list. Learn more.

2. Amethyst Basin

Photo: Conor Barry

The 6-mile hike is worth it to camp in a serene meadow or next to beautiful Amethyst Lake. The backcountry campsites are spread out and there is great fishing in the creeks feeding into the lake. Learn more.

3. Red Castle

Photo: Sam Watson

It's easy to understand where the name "Red Castle" came from once you see the giant red rock formation towering over the lake. If you make the 25 mile hike in, you'll be rewarded with peace, quiet, and incredible scenery. Learn more.

4. Climb at Ruth Lake

Photo: Colton Marsala

The cliffs at Ruth Lake are home to sport climbing that's about as good as it can get — not to mention the insane beauty that unfolds as you reach the top. If you haul your climbing and backpacking gear in, you're set for a pretty epic weekend. Learn more.

5. Ibantik Lake

Photo: Colton Marsala

Ibatnik Lake is a secret within a secret, often less populated than other lakes in the area. The hike in is 5 miles, gaining a manageable 1000 ft. in elevation. A great spot for entry-level backpacking or a trip for the whole family. Learn more.

6. Cataract Gorge

Photo: Michael Johnston

Hike and scramble alongside the river down into Cataract Gorge and you'll pass by dozens of waterfalls and very few people. But watch your step — it’s so pretty it’s hard to focus on what’s in front of you. Learn more.

7. Island Lake

Photo: Eric Bennett

This 5-mile-round-trip hike can be a day trip or you can spend the night camping alongside this beautiful mountain lake. Either way, you've got endless potential for fun with cliff jumping, swimming and hiking to neighboring lakes. Learn more.

8. Grandaddy Basin

Photo: Cotopaxi

Make the popular hike up to Grandaddy Lake and if you feel like escaping the crowds, push on further to one of the twenty lakes in the surrounding 2 mile radius. Learn more.

Food, Drink, and Chillin'

The easiest advice for finding the best spots to hangout in Park City is to wander up and down the bustling Main Street. This small town strip is full of shops, restaurants, and character. Start your day at Java Cow for coffee and scope out the ice cream for after dinner. This place has been a staple in Park City for almost 20 years and for good reason (Insider tip: check out the Banksy artwork on the exterior wall). Another local favorite eatery with a family friendly, ski bum vibe is Davanza’s. Their menu spans pizza, burgers, tacos, and more. There are two amazing Mexican food options; El Chubasco right in town, or Loco Lizard on the way in or out of town in Kimball Junction. For western style cuisine and amazing food and drink pairings, hit up High West Distillery and Saloon. After a return trip to Java Cow for dessert, see a performance at the historic Egyptian Theater, a premier destination of the annual Sundance Film Festival, or hit up O’Shucks, a great locals bar with a fun vibe and $3 schooners on Tuesday nights.

Get more information on these trails and others around Utah at Utah.com.

Cover photo: Jacob Moon

Don't see your favorite adventure on The Outbound? Show us by creating an adventure.

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.