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Uinta Summit

The crest of the only major mountain range in the US extending in an east west direction, the Uintas, is not crossed by a paved road. Instead the summit carrying its name crosses the eastern fringe of the range. Despite a long steep climb on the south side, a significant fraction of the total climbing exists of rolling hills over the forested top. These smaller ups and downs do not show up in the profile. There is a summit sign without name. Curiously the point of highest elevation is slightly north of this spot. The road is also marked as a pass on old state maps, and Touraide maps. But those maps don't apply this name. Marshall Spraque, in his book "the Great Gates, the story of the Rocky Mountain Passes" calls the pass Uinta Summit. The name is not commonly used today.

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01.(5330ft,m00) START-END SOUTH: Vernal
02.(8240ft,m20) paved forest road 018 leaves on left
03.(8350ft,m25) forest road 048 leaves on right
04.(8428ft,m25) summit sign at 8428ft
05.(8490ft,m26) TOP:  unmarked point of highest altitude
06.(7520ft,m35) profile turns right onto US191 to Flaming Gorge
07.(6000ft,m41) Flaming Gorge damn followed by turnoff to Green River in Red Canyon
08.(5650ft,m43) START-END NORTH: picnic area on Green River in Red Canyon


From South. Ut44 leaves Vernal in a mathematically orderly fashion by making a 90 degree turn north from Main Street. The next turn encountered is forced by crossing a hogback ridge. Steinaker Reservoir waits on the other side. The first low summit is encountered in this complex of arid foothill hogbacks, cresting at about 6000 feet and descending back to 5650 feet. Here the climb into the Uintas starts in earnest. Loosely flung switchbacks wind up a slanted plateau, dissected by small canyons. Miles before approaching the summit the road enters a forest and seemingly rolls along forever through a high plateau that has a much lusher appearance than the valley. Without a profile it is hard to determine exactly where the summit is. Even the highway department seems to have missed the spot by half a mile when placing the summit sign.

From North. There are two paved northern approaches which join at about the midpoint. The ascent from Dutch John (Wyo), shown in the third picture, leads up from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir Dam. This is also the approach shown in the profile. It is a little steeper and has less traffic, not that traffic is a problem on the other approach. On a dayride over the pass to Flaming Gorge the point below the dam is an interesting turn around point. The access road is paved all the way and it's the lowest point reachable by bicycle for quite a distance, since the up canyon area is flooded.

The other ascent (not shown) starts from Manilla (Wyo) (6236ft). The most interesting sidetrip is through Sheep Creek Canyon, a side canyon of Flaming Gorge that is not flooded, located at the bottom of this approach.


Dayride.  A dayride starting at a campsite a few miles north of Vernal to Dutch John and back measured 77 miles and 7308ft of total climbing, using a Vetta100A cycle computer.