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Old 07-30-2017, 10:06 PM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Cottonwood Heights, UT
Posts: 372
TR: Whitney Reservoir, UT 7/28-30/2017

We just got back from our latest weekend outing, this time to Whitney Reservoir, a high mountain lake at 9,260 feet in the Uinta Mountains of northeastern Utah.

Our camp.

Eighty-eight acres may not sound like much, but that makes Whitney Reservoir one of the largest bodies of water in the Uinta Mountains, a range dotted by numerous but tiny lakes and ponds. Whitney Reservoir is also one of the few lakes off the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway (UT-150) that's accessible by RV and also legal for dispersed camping.

As a result it's very popular with RVs, even though it requires nine miles of moderately rough dirt road to access. To get there, head west off UT-150 for 9 miles on on FR-032. FR-032 leaves UT-150 about two miles south of the Bear River Ranger Station. Some GPS programs including Google Maps, and presumably some others, will try to route you via FR-081 if you're approaching from the south. Don't do it with an RV -- FR-081 is for high clearance 4x4 or ATV only. Continue north on UT-150 about a half mile past FR-081 to FR-032.

At the start of FR-032, the road is actually quite good.

The first few switchbacks of FR-032 are pretty decent, but once you top out on the plateau at the junction of FR-141 the road becomes legal for ATVs and deteriorates accordingly. The closer you get to Whitney Reservoir, the worse the road gets. I found 10-15 mph to be the rule for keeping things intact. Those who don't want nine miles of rough road may opt instead to boondock along Mill City Creek (FR-109) or Road Hollow (FR-310) with great views of the Uinta Mountains, although they'll miss out on the reservoir.

Whitney Reservoir (left) and Beaver Lake (right), as seen from nearby Moffit Pass.

Whitney Reservoir is a beautiful body of water, created when a dam was built across the West Fork Bear River in 1966. Dispersed campsites are available all along the northeast corner of the lake near the dam, and down the entire west side. Those along the west side offer a bit more privacy. We chose a tight spot at the end of FR-638 at the southwest corner of the lake, which required some tricky turning around to land the trailer on a flat spot 20 feet or so above the lakeshore.

Friday night at camp.

Wildflowers at camp.

Wildflowers at camp

Wildflowers at camp

We even had our own little "boat launch" for my kayak. I actually did very little fishing over the weekend, but peering into the water from my kayak confirmed that there are indeed a good many trout in this lake, some of them of a decent size.

Our own little boat launch.

Our camp.

Our camp.

Some of the other sites along the west shore of Whitney Reservoir.

Looking across Whitney Reservoir at some of the sites along the northeast shore near the dam.

A tip: there's plenty of firewood available in the area as of our visit, thanks to a pine beetle infestation. Crews are cutting down diseased trees and stacking them in giant slash piles, perfect for a campfire.

Like I said, though, this area is busy. My companions arrived at noon on Friday and secured our site for the weekend. While most people who came down FR-638 saw our camp and turned around, a couple of people nevertheless kept driving right through our camp to get down to the lake, an annoyance that we eliminated by strategically parking one of our vehicles in the road. There was a large party camped across the cove from us on FR-639, and while they brought a PA system for some God-awful homemade karaoke on Saturday night they thankfully shut things down shortly after 10 p.m.

From where we were, however, we couldn't actually see any neighboring camps and the popularity of the area won't keep me from returning.

For more information:

Somebody apparently had a really bad day at Whitney Reservoir recently.
If these are your trailer keys, reach out to me -- I have them.
Marc Guido | Cottonwood Heights, UT
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2016 Evo by Forest River T2050 (26') & 2014 Toyota Tundra 4WD 5.7L V8
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