Yellow Benchmark (11884') lies on the south slope of the Uinta Mountains of Utah. It and its smaller neighbor (11412') form the dividing line between the Garfield Creek drainage and the Yellowstone Creek drainage. As the crow flies, it is 4.6 miles southwest of Kings Peak, Utah's highpoint. It is ringed by numerous 12 and 13 thousand footers and provides excellent views of them all. Counterclockwise, these are Bluebell Lake Peak, Stone BM, S Porcupine, Porcupine, Wilson, E Wilson, Powell, Henrys Fork, S Kings, Painter, Trail Rider, N and S Timothy Peaks, Bluebell Pass Peak, and Paul BM.
Yellow BM on the right, Porcupine, Wilson, and E Wilson in the background
Although Yellow Benchmark is not particularly tall or rugged compared to nearby peaks, it has a feature few other Uinta peaks share. It really stands out.
Yellow BM in front of Mount Powell
From the east
From the west
In a sea of reds and greys, you can see it shimmering bright gold from miles away. It is not merely another in a string of bumps on a ridge like almost every other peak in the High Uintas. Yellow BM and 11412 appear to rise up by themselves from the valley floor, unconnected to anything.
The summit of Yellow BM is fairly flat but has two small bumps as is evident on the topo map. The northern one is the actual highpoint and the southern one contains the benchmark. The map says the benchmark is at 11884', but my GPS recorded 11920 at the benchmark and 11931 at the summit.
Like many Uinta peaks, the southern of the summits has several clefts. These are not nearly as deep as you usually see, being only about 4'. On other peaks, they are easily 3 times that.
It is difficult to imagine this peak being climbed very often, yet it affords stunning views, is not a difficult hike (although long), and is suitable for a family backpacking trip. There were lots of fisherman in Garfield Basin, but not surprisingly, we were the only ones on the peak.
Check the sign board at the trail head for specific details, but in general, you may not build a fire within a quarter mile from any of the major lakes and you must camp 200 feet away from the trail, any water source, or another established camp.
A small lake in Garfield Basin
There are 5 established campgrounds near the Center Park Trailhead as described in the trailhead page camping section. There are numerous places to camp in Garfield Basin. Water is plentiful. But, as mentioned in the Red Tape section, please check the sign board for proximity restrictions to lakes.
When to Climb
Yellow BM is the oblong peak just behind the trees on the left
The best window of opportunity is late June through the beginning of October.
Heading to the peak from Tungsten Pass
The most reasonable way to climb Yellow Benchmark is from Tungsten Pass which lies about 1 mile north of the summit. From the pass just head south along the obvious ridge towards the summit which is about 500' higher than the pass. The terrain starts out as primarily grassy tundra but switches to boulders near the top.
There are two main ways to get to the pass, the Garfield Basin Trail and the Highline Trail.
Garfield Basin Trail
One of the numerous small ponds in Garfield Basin
Five Point Lake
Yellow Benchmark is a long way from a trailhead. As the crow flies it is 8.8 miles to the closest trailhead, Center Park, to the south. By following the Garfield Basin Trail, which leaves from Center Park, most of the way, it will take you 15.6 miles one way to reach the summit. Just follow the trail to Tungsten Pass and then head south for the summit. Garfield Basin is very scenic and features many lakes popular with fishermen.
Heading south to 11412
If you want, you can continue south to 11412, then retrace your steps back to the saddle between the two peaks, and then head west and travel cross country back to the trail. The south side of Yellow Benchmark is much more steep and rugged than its north side and is composed of boulders which end abruptly where it starts leveling out.
Yellow BM is a short side trip from the Highline Trail, the premier hiking trail of the Uintas, which crisscrosses the main crest and stretches from the Mirror Lake Highway on the west to Highway 191 on the east. When the trail crosses Tungsten Pass just head south to the summit.
Yellow BM in the center
Here is a link to the current 7 day forecast for Yellow Benchmark. It rains frequently in the Uintas.