Discover the Largest Forest in Utah (And What Lives Within It)

Written by Jennifer Hollohan
Updated: April 21, 2023
© Jeremy Christensen/
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When you think about Utah, it is easy to picture a desert. After all, the state is world-renowned for its iconic landmarks like Zion National Monument and Arches National Park. Looming sandstone cliffs and unusual rock formations fill imaginations around the world. So it comes as a surprise to some when they learn Utah also has abundant and large forests. But what is the largest forest in Utah?

Continue reading to discover the answer. We will also examine what kind of wildlife you can expect to see in the forest. The details may surprise you!

Forests in Utah

There are six forests in Utah, and all are sizable. They are so abundant that forests cover nearly a third of the entire state. However, due to the extreme elevation shifts and water supply, the types of forests will vary greatly.

Among the six forests in the state, six forest types are represented. The most common forest found in Utah is the Pinyon-Juniper Forest Type. These trees grow between 5,000 and 8,000 feet and cover up to 8 million acres. Next up is the Aspen Type, which covers higher elevation. You will find aspens growing between 7,000 and 10,000 feet. And this forest type covers roughly 1.4 acres.

The Douglas-fir Type co-exists with aspens, as they grow best between 6,000 to 9,000 feet. There is almost as much land covered with Douglas-fir (1 million acres) as there is with aspens. Both trees are interspersed with Spruce-fir Type forests, which grow from 8,000 to 10,000 feet. However, there is less of this forest type, with just under 1 million acres.

And the final two forest types are Oak Type. These trees prefer lower elevations like the Pinyon-Juniper. You will find them in abundance between 5,000 and 7,8000 feet. Then there are four species of pine tree found in Utah. However, they are all grouped under a Pine Forest Type and cover roughly 1.1 million acres. You will see beautiful pine trees between 7,000 and 10,000 feet.

Douglas fir
Utah has one million acres of land with Douglas-fir trees.


What Is the Largest Forest in Utah?

The largest forest in Utah is the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. It just barely beats out the Dixie National Forest for the title, thanks to a recent action to combine two separate forests into one large, protected area.

This national forest covers an astounding 2.2 million acres. Most of it is in Utah. However, the national forest boundaries extend up into Wyoming. 

The beautiful forest is popular with Utah’s residents and millions of annual visitors. Roughly 9 million people head to the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest every year to enjoy its ample recreation opportunities.

Where Is Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest Located on a Map?

The Uinta section of the forest is located less than 45 minutes south of Salt Lake City and minutes away from Provo, Utah. It covers the counties of Utah, Wasatch, Juab, and Sanpete. The Wasatch part of the forest is in the Utah counties of Salt Lake, Tooele, Summit, Davis, Wasatch, Duchesne, Weber, Morgan, Juab, and Utah, and in the Wyoming county of Uinta.

Recreation in Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest

You can get lost for weeks in the forest since there are so many fun things to do. The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest has two recreation areas and nine wilderness areas. There is plenty of space for hiking on the countless trails during the summer or snowshoeing on them in winter. 

As for winter sports, the forest offers the perfect terrain for cross-country skiing or snowmobiling. Plus, there are five ski areas if you want to hit the slopes.

And if you prefer taking in the views from the car, that won’t be a problem here. The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest has six byways and six backways. You can stop for lunch at one of the over 50 picnic areas.

It also has lakes, reservoirs, streams, and rivers for fishing. Additionally, many trails are perfect for horses, mountain bikes, and OHVs.

You can come for a one-day adventure or stay longer. With over 100 established campgrounds and plenty of dispersed camping, there is more than enough room for you!

Lilly Lake Utah
Beautiful lakes dot the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.


What Kinds of Wildlife Live There?

The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest has amazing wildlife-watching opportunities! However, you want to be respectful and keep your distance. Some of the larger animals you may spot include elk, black bears, deer, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and moose. 

Don’t miss the smaller friends like chukars, pikas, marmots, rabbits, prairie dogs, hares, the kit fox, and Merriam’s turkey. But you also want to take some time to gaze upwards. You may see bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, or ferruginous hawks.

bald eagle in flight
Bald eagles soar over national forests in Utah.


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Uinta Wasatch Cache National Forest
Uinta Wasatch Cache National Forest
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About the Author

Jennifer is a writer, Nutritionist, and Herbalist, and hobby gardener. She is passionate about writing and enjoys digging into new, unique topics. When not glued to the computer screen, she loves hanging out with her kids, working in her garden, and crafting crazy culinary delights.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is the oldest tree in Utah?

The iconic Pando (Populus tremuloides) is the oldest tree in Utah. While the tree itself is 47,000 years old, its root system goes back 80,000 years.


Does Utah have pine forests?

Yes! Ponderosa pine trees are in roughly 4% of the state’s forests. In total, the state’s pine trees cover over 600,000 acres.

Are there Sequoias in Utah?

There are a handful of the giant trees in Utah. However, they are not native to the area. Residents planted them between the 1940s and 1950s.

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  1. Utah State University, Available here:
  2. US Forest Service, Available here:,Northern%20Utah%20and%20southwestern%20Wyoming.
  3. US Forest Service, Available here: