The Fishlake Wilderness, while not an official range or group, is a scattered region of broad volcanic plateaus, peaks and uprisings located around Fish Lake, the largest natural body of water in the mountains of Utah. Nearly 160' deep in places, the lake is famous for Rainbow Trout and 20, 30 or even 40-pound Mackinaw lake trout.
The region's highlands are not known for their mountaineering or technical puzzles, although some modest route finding challenges await climbers on Thousand Lakes Mountain and Mount Marvine. The region is better known for its solitude, majestic beauty, big sky and abundance of wildlife.
Much of the wilderness is contained within central Utah's Fishlake and Dixie National Forests. According to the U.S. Forest Service
, Fishlake N.F. "features majestic stands of aspen encircling open mountain meadows that are lush with a diverse community of forbs and grasses ... the mountains of the Fishlake are a source of water for many of the neighboring communities and agricultural valleys in the region. Hunting, fishing and OHV use are among the most popular forms of recreation enjoyed by forest visitors. A 'working forest,' Fishlake is managed for livestock grazing and timber management. In the coming years, increased interest in mineral, oil and gas reserves may extend to portions of the Fishlake National Forest." Hopefully oil rigs don't start sprouting along the lakeshore.
Several lofty plateaus and volcanic landforms rise about Fish Lake. These include Monroe Caldera, Monument Peak, Fish Lake Hightop
, Mount Terrill
, Mount Marvine
, Thousand Lakes Mountain
, Malmsten Peak and the Aquarius Plateau. Elevations range from 6,300' (1900 meters) at Otter Creek Reservoir to over 11,600' (3500 meters) at Fish Lake Hightop.
According to this source
, the region's 900 square mile (2330 km²) Aquarius Plateau is the loftiest tableland in North America.
11,522' Mount Ellen from the slopes of Thousand Lakes high country.
The Fishlake Wilderness contains two county highpoints.
For more information see the SP page on Utah county highpoints.
With an average elevation of over 7,000 feet, the Fishlake Wilderness has cool summers and snowy cold winters. The higher elevations see remarkable levels of precipitation considering south-central Utah's semi-arid climate. Autumn is stunningly beautiful as great stands of quaking aspen wax the color of burnished gold. While Fishlake is rarely crowded, summer and fall see the most visitors due to favorable weather and big game hunting.
Camping & Red Tape
There are no permits needed to enter or climb within either Fishlake or Dixie National Forests. Designated dispersed camping areas are located on most National Forest roads, especially near the lake itself. For more information about dispersed camping contact the National Forest Supervisor's Richfield Office
Lodging is available at Bowery Haven Resort
and Fish Lake Lodge
, located along the northwest shores of Fish Lake.
Thousand Lakes Mountain from Mytoge.
External LinksFishlake National Forest
Dixie National Forest
Mount Marvine from Seven Mile Valley.
The plateaus in the Fishlake Wilderness are located in a "transition zone", running southeast to northwest on the relatively stable foundation of the Colorado Plateau and its extensional tectonic setting. The southern high plateaus record intense Middle and Late Tertiary volcanism in the Marysvale Volcanic field that both predates and evolves with the uplift of the Colorado Plateau. The Fish Lake Plateau, with peak elevation of 11,633 feet, lies on the eastern margin of the High Plateaus region of central and southern Utah. Fish Lake itself is an alpine lake 5 miles long and 1 mile wide at nearly 9000 feet elevation. It is the headwaters of the Fremont River. The bedrock of the plateau is Oligocene and early Miocene extrusive volcanic rocks.
The Fish Lake volcanics are part of the Marysvale volcanic pile in central Utah. The Fish Lake, Awapa and Aquarius Plateaus lie on the eastern margin of the pile. At Aquarius, it reaches a thickness of more than 9,500 feet (3000 meters). The thickest volcanic breccias, lava flows and pyroclastic deposits in the region are exposed in the southern Sevier Plateau.
Clarence Dutton, a famed geologist, rode through the region on horseback and first described the physiography and structure of the Fish Lake Plateau. He recognized the volcanic bedrock as "a great aggregate thickness of trachytes, alternating with augitic andesites and some dolerites." In 1952, C.T. Hardy and S. Meussig described the Fish Lake stratigraphy as part of their study of Fish Lake Plateau glaciation. The Fish Lake volcanics were correlated with the Middle
Tertiary volcanics of Callaghan. They noted a lack of volcaniclastics that are commonly observed further westward. They described the oldest flows as dark grey hornblende trachyte beneath massive red and light-grey trachytes. They observed the thinest volcanic layers at about 250-450 feet at Mt. Terrill and 1200 to 1800 feet at Mount Marvine.
If you don't understand this scientific speak, suffice it to say that the entire region around Fishlake is a massive volcanic crust overlaying the Colorado Plateau. It is, without a doubt, one of the highest volcanic plateau regions in North America. This means alot of the peaks and landforms are flat topped or gently rolling, except in the parts where underlying limestone and hard rock breaks through, such as Mount Marvine. As a result, there aren't alot of opportunities for sport climbing, nor are there many technically challenging peaks.
Fishlake National Forest.
Overlooking Capitol Reef National Park.