OverviewWasatch Benchmark is an rather remote peak, which is located in the High Uintas Wilderness Area, and is one of Utah's 13'ers (there are 17-21 of them, depending on the list). Note: Wasatch is the name of the benchmark on the peak. The peak is officially un-named. In 1979 the Utah Wilderness Association proposed a 659,000 acre High Uintas Wilderness. The Forest Service responded a year later with a 511,000 acre recommendation. In 1983 the Utah Wilderness Association succeeded in pushing the Utah congressional delegation to introduce a Utah Wilderness Bill. Emerging in 1984 was a 460,000 acres High Uintas Wilderness. Although smaller than the Forest Service recommendation, the creation of the High Uintas Wilderness marked a major wilderness stepping-stone.
The Uinta Mountains are one of the few mountain ranges in North America that run east to west rather than north to south. Within the Uinta Mountains are about 2000 lakes, and some 900-1000 are full of trout. Along with the San Juans in Colorado, the Uintas have more contiguous area above timberline than any other area in the Continental United States. This is a beautiful area with many lakes, meadows, wildflowers, and some rugged peaks. Solitude is usually easy to come by once you leave the popular fishing holes behind.
One thing that makes Utah's 13'ers different, then say the Colorado 14'ers, is that the distances from the nearest roads are usually much greater for the Utah 13'ers.
From the conditions of the trail network and lack of summit markers this peak is visited infrequently. From the horse troughs and trail conditions (roughness-stream fording) it would seem these trails see more horses than hikers on foot. A few of the stream crossings are wide, deep and have fast moving currents.
Utah's 12,000+ Foot Peaks With 200+ Feet Prominence
Utah's 12,000+ Foot Peaks With 300+ Feet Prominence
Getting ThereEAST FORK BLACKS FORK TRAILHEAD
From The West
From the traffic light in Kamas and the intersection of route 248 and 32, head north 0.1 to SR 150 (Mirror Lake Highway). Turn right onto SR 150 and follow for 49 miles to FR 058, turn right onto FR 058 (gravel road) and follow for 21.2 miles to the intersection with another dirt road heading north south. Turn right and follow road south for approximately 6 miles to the parking area at the East Fork Blacks Fork Camping area and trailhead.
From The North
Exit I-80 at exit 30 and head south on CR 207 for 7.9 miles to a “T”. Turn left onto CR 204 and follow southeast for 2.4 miles to another intersection. Turn right onto CR 271 and follow southerly for 15.2 miles to the Utah – Wyoming state line. Continue south following same road (FR073) for 2.7 miles to an intersection with FR058. Stay left or straight, continue on FR 058 for 0.7 miles to an intersection with FR 065. Stay Left here, 058 bears right at this intersection. Continue South on FR 065 for approximately 6 miles to the trailhead and campground.
WEST FORK BLACKS FORK TRAILHEAD
From the traffic light in Kamas and the intersection of Route 248 and 32, head north 0.1 to SR 150 (Mirror Lake Highway). Turn Right onto SR 150 and follow for 49 miles to FR 058 aka "North Slope Road", turn right onto FR 058 (gravel road) and follow for 16 miles to the 4-way intersection with the West Fork Blacks Fork Road turning south. Turn right and follow the rough dirt road to where it crosses the river. It is highly recommended you park here, no matter what type of vehicle you own. The river crossing is very rough and driving through the meadows along the heavily rutted 4wd road is at best, environmentally insensitive, not to mention damaging to your vehicle.
Routes OverviewSouth Ridge/Red Knob Pass
This is the easiest route on Wasatch BM. The route accesses East Red Knob Pass from either West Fork Blacks Fork or from East Fork Blacks Fork. The route then ascends the south ridge to the summit. The route is about 26 miles round from the West Fork Blacks Fork Trailhead, or 30 miles round trip from the West Fork Blacks Fork Trailhead, and the trip usually takes three days. Strong climbers can do the route trip in two long days. Both routes are very scenic, but the West Fork is more so because of more rugged peaks surrounding the drainage. The West Fork route is longer, however, and the access road is much rougher.
Northwest Ridge of NW Wasatch
Though not as high, NW Wasatch is a tougher climb than Wasatch. The Northwest Ridge route is steep and class 3, but isn't too difficult. From there, you can follow the ridge southeast to the summit of Wasatch.
North Ridge over NW Wasatch and Tokewanna
If you want to knock off three 13'ers in one shot. The route is rather rugged and slow between Tokewanna and Wasatch.
SP member Grandwazoo adds the East Ridge Route which appears to be the shortest route up the mountain. The route also has an alternate extension passing over the summit of NW Wasatch.
This is another long route (40-50 miles) from the south starting at Moon Lake. The trail is in good condition to Red Knob Pass, but this route will not be discussed on the page because the northern routes above are more scenic and shorter. If you don’t mind hiking many miles below timberline without many views, it would make a viable route.
Red TapeNo permits are required. Use Leave No Trace when traveling in the wilderness.
CampingEast Fork Blacks Fork
There is a rustic campground near the trailhead that is located in a grove of lodgepole pine and aspen. There is no charge for camping.
West Fork Blacks Fork
There are many unofficial campgrounds on the road to the trailhead.
Backcountry campsites are many on either of the main trails to this area.
When to ClimbJuly through September is the normal climbing season. Since access roads are not open in the winter, winter ascents are almost never done and would take most climbers at least a week. Mike Kelsey made the first winter ascent of Wasatch BM in March 1997 in five days, but he's a very fast climber.
Mountiain ConditionsInformation regarding the conditions of the forest roads to the trailhead - Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Evanston Ranger District, 1565 Highway 150, Box 1880, Evanston, WY 82931; (307) 789-3194.
Click here for forest service information
Information regarding the conditions for climbing these peaks can be obtained from Wasatch-Cache National Forest, 8236 Federal Bldg., 125 S. State Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84128, (801)524-3900.
The National Weather Service has a new weather link for the Central Uinta Mountains.
Weather Forecast for Central Uinta Mountains
Here are some average highs and lows from the 13,123 foot elevation (4000 meters) in the Uintas (about the same altitude as the summit):