Jeff Faulkner Presents: Safety Tips for Enjoying the Uintas Mountains 

Nestled in the backyard of our Kamas fly shop are the Uintas Mountains. They are a breath-taking display of Mother Nature’s magnificence, attracting outdoor enthusiasts from around the world. Whether you’re an avid angler, an experienced backpacker, or a seasoned camper, the Uintas have something to offer everyone. But as with any wilderness adventure, safety should always be your top priority. Please keep in mind, the Uintas are no joke! They are close to home and don’t seem intimidating but things can get western up there in a hurry. Enjoy my series of Jeff Faulkner Presents: Safety Tips for Enjoying the Uintas Mountains 

Here are some essential safety tips to help you enjoy your time in the Uintas while minimizing risks, categorized by activity: fly fishing, backpacking, and camping. 

Fly Fishing in the Uintas

  1. Have a plan: We sell maps that help you figure out your trek or the waters available to you.
  2. Wear a Personal Floatation Device (PFD): Especially this Spring with the high run-off. Though fly fishing is usually done in waist-deep water, it’s best to wear a PFD, especially when fishing in moving water. It’s easy to misjudge the depth or speed of a current and find yourself in a dangerous situation. Don’t forget your wading belt too.
  3. Use a Wading Staff: A wading staff provides extra stability when walking in rivers and streams. Again, with all the water we have a vast majority of our streams and rivers have changed. Just cause you barreled through that section last year doesn’t mean that it is the same this year.
  4. Keep an Eye on the Weather: Conditions can change rapidly in mountainous areas, so pay close attention to the weather forecast and signs of incoming storms. Lightning can be particularly hazardous while holding a fishing rod. If you get caught out here it is crucial to take appropriate action to ensure your safety:
    1. Exit the Water: Water conducts electricity. Therefore, if you hear thunder or see lightning, immediately stop fishing and get out of the water. 
    2. Avoid Tallest Objects: Lightning typically strikes the tallest object in an area. Once out of the water, avoid standing near tall isolated objects like lone trees.  
    3. Lower Your Fishing Rod: If you’re holding a fishing rod, it’s the tallest object around you and can act as a lightning rod. Lay it down safely away from you. 
    4. Move Away from Water: Find shelter away from the water’s edge. Water can flash flood during heavy rain. 
    5. Seek Shelter: If there’s a nearby shelter or your vehicle, go there. If not, find a low spot away from trees, poles, and metal objects.  
    6. Adopt the Lightning Safety Position: If no shelter is available, crouch down on the balls of your feet, keep your feet together, head low, and cover your ears. 
    7. Wait Out the Storm: Wait at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder before you return to fishing. 
    8. Never Shelter Under a Tree: Standing under a tree is extremely dangerous as it can be struck by lightning. 
  5. Stay Alert for Flash Floods: Mountainous areas can be prone to flash flooding during heavy rain. Stay alert and move to higher ground if necessary.
  6. Protect Yourself from the Sun: Wear a hat and use sunscreen to prevent sunburn and reduce glare. Sunburn also leads to dehydration and exhaustion which can be a real problem.

Backpacking in the Uintas 

  1. Have a Detailed Plan: Ensure you have a detailed itinerary and stick to it. Share your plans with a trusted person back home who can alert authorities if you don’t return on schedule, preferably someone who knows you and the area. I usually tell the fishing buddy that couldn’t make the trip. I personally carry a Garmin InReach Mini to communicate with my family and others should I need to.
  2. Understand the Terrain: The Uintas’ terrain can be challenging, with steep climbs, loose rocks, and swiftly flowing rivers. Review maps and trail descriptions, and ensure you have the appropriate footwear and equipment. Also ensure that you are fit enough to tackle the plans you have. Remember that the Uinta range starts at 7,500 feet at its lowest to 13,528 at Kings Peak. That has a huge impact on fitness.
  3. Pack the Ten Essentials: The ten essentials are navigation tools, sun protection, insulation, illumination, first-aid supplies, fire-starting tools, repair kit and tools, nutrition, hydration, and an emergency shelter. These items are fundamental to any backpacking trip and could save your life in an emergency.
  4. Stay Hydrated and Well-Nourished: Mountain air is often dry, and high altitude can exacerbate Pack plenty of water, as well as water purification methods for longer trips. I also recommend electrolyte tables and high-calorie snacks.


Camping in the Uintas 

  1. Practice Bear Safety: “Hey bear, hey bear.” This is where you get to weigh the option of “looking silly” or getting mauled. The Uintas are home to black bears. Make your presence known and you’re likelihood for an encounter goes down. Food storage is also important. Store your food and toiletries in a bear-resistant container and hang it from a tree at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet from the trunk. Keeping food in your tent or in camp basically puts you on the smorgasbord for local bears. We also sell bear spray in our stores so be sure to stop by and grab one! 
  2. Camp at Designated Sites: To minimize your impact on the environment, use established campsites. They’re typically located at least 200 feet from lakes and streams, which helps protect the water source. If there aren’t any, look for places that someone has camped or choose a spot that reduces
  3. Check the Weather Forecast: Again with the weather?! Look at the overnight lows. This will help you know what type of tent to take and what clothes to pack. Be prepared for a variety of conditions, including cold temperatures at night, even in the summer.
  4. Be Mindful of Campfires: Check for current fire restrictions. If campfires are allowed, use established fire rings, keep fires small, and put them out completely before retiring or leaving the campsite.

First-Aid Items 

When embarking on outdoor adventures like backpacking and fishing, a well-stocked first aid kit is essential. Also, having the items is one thing. Knowing how to use them is another. Get some basic first aid training or knowledge. Here is a list of items you should consider including in your kit: 

  • Adhesive Bandages: Various sizes for minor cuts and scrapes.
  • Sterile Gauze Pads and Adhesive Tape: For larger wounds or heavy bleeding. Some blood coagulation agent would also be helpful.
  • Antiseptic Wipes or Solution: For cleaning wounds. Dirty wounds get infected and well, that’s bad.
  • Tweezers: Useful for removing splinters, thorns, or hooks when fishing.
  • Scissors: For cutting tape, cloth, or even removing clothing around an injury.
  • Pain Relievers: Such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen are helpful for minor aches and pains.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Medicine: For reducing swelling and managing inflammation.
  • Antihistamines: To counter allergic reactions, including insect stings. Serious allergies? Take your epi-pen if you have one.
  • Hydrocortisone Cream: For relief of itching caused by insect bites or poison ivy.
  • Antibiotic Ointment: To help prevent infection in wounds.
  • Thermometer: To check for fever. Maybe not the most important thing you will carry, but it can help with diagnosis as well as judging severity of the situation.
  • Medical Gloves: To protect yourself and others when treating wounds. Also for fishing handling, but we’ll leave that hot topic for another day.
  • Space Blanket: For warmth in case of hypothermia or shock. This could also double as a head covering in case or alien invasion. 
  • Snake Bite Kit: There are some snakes up there. This could be prove to be a life saver.
  • Moleskin or Blister Treatment: To prevent and treat blisters after a long day of hiking in the boots you bought the day before you left.
  • First Aid Manual or Instruction booklet: Did you forget to learn how to use this stuff? Take one of these. In all seriousness this is vital. You never know what you need to know until you need to know it.
  • Personal Medications and Emergency Contacts: If you or anyone in your group has specific medical needs or allergies, make sure to bring any necessary medications and keep a list of emergency contacts, especially if you are on a solo trip. 


In addition to these tips, always remember to respect nature and leave no trace. The beauty of the Uinta Mountains is a privilege we can all enjoy, and it’s our responsibility to preserve it for future generations. Doug Duren, a land manager and conservationist, once said, “It’s not ours, it’s just our turn.” Be a good steward and make your turn a good one.