The Uinta and Yellowstone Drainages
(Editor's Note: This is the seventh in a series focusing on roadless landscapes contiguous and adjacent to the High Uintas Wilderness.)
It is tempting to think of the roadlessness that surrounds the Uintas as individual roadless areas or lands. Of course, it isn't--this roadlessness is a sweeping arc of a single roadless landscape flowing out from the 460,000 acre High Uintas Wilderness. While this series has delineated roadlessness into drainages or geographical namesakes such as the Bollies, it is one place unto itself. Surrounding, contiguous and adjacent to this 460,000 acre wilderness is about 100,000 acres of roadless North Slope lands on the Wasatch and about that much on the Ashley North and South Slopes, the bulk of this being The Bollies (LYNX, 12/98), making a contiguous area of about 650,000 wild acres.
And, of course, literally across the street (in this case, the Mirror Lake Highway) from Hayden Peak on the west, is the proposed Mt. Watson Wilderness, or Lakes Roadless Area, another 122,000 acres, making a remarkably clean, wild mountainous system of nearly 800,000 acres, over 1200 square miles. Connect this to the Book Cliffs and the high Colorado Plateaus of the Southern Rockies and the high Wyo-ming deserts through the Green River to the Wind Rivers, the Wyoming Range, the Yellowstone Plateau on the Northern Rockies, and the Uintas sit in and at a junction of immense wild power.
Our sole obligation is to preserve this place, to allow its wildness to connect and hold this great power... and to refresh our story and hold ourselves together as part and parcel of this wild landscape. It is here we can awaken the ghost of wolf, wolverine, and grizz and share the life of great gray owl, cougar and black bear.
Some 32,000 acres of land south of the High Uintas Wilderness border on the Yellowstone and Uintas Rivers remain undeveloped. From Hells Canyon over to Cow Canyon and Clover Creek Canyon, it is steep, rocky, ledgy, forested country. Lodgepole pine, isolated stands of Doug fir, ponderosa and aspen dominate these slopes. Small, steep- charging drainages fly out of this country. To the east of Swift Creek rests Dry Gulch. Access into this country is difficult-- it is like climbing huge, forested talus steps before popping out into subalpine meadow lands and small lakes. Most of Dry Gulch is within the High Uintas Wilderness. East of the Uinta River at the head of Clover Creek the country broadens and rises to the typical round alpine peaks of the Bollies. An almost hidden pass separates the Uinta River drainage from the Whiterocks country.