USGS Logo Geological Survey Bulletin 1291
The Geologic Story of the Uinta Mountains


WE CAN affirm, however, that changes will indeed continue. Slowly, perhaps, but inexorably. The deep canyons, the mountain peaks, and the "everlasting" hills—though firm they stand—are only bit players acting out their roles on the endless stage of time. John Wesley Powell would agree.

Each summer, hikers will hear the reports of loosened rocks, crashing shotlike from the ridge lines into the valleys far below. Each winter, unseen avalanches will sweep more rocks down from the heights. Each spring, freshets will scour the beds of creeks and rivers. And each fall, when new ice coats the ponds and fresh snow powders the summits, fingers of frost will again reach deep into the rocks, searching out each crack and crevice.

Each year, landslides and mudflows will carry more debris to the bottom lands, leaving new scars on the hillsides. In time these will heal and leave no trace. Through the years, lakes and ponds will slowly gather silt. First, pond lilies, then rushes, grasses, herbs, and finally, willows will encroach upon the shores, converting some lakes to ponds, some ponds to marshes, and some marshes to meadowlands. Some meadowlands, gullied and dissected by erosion, will become badlands. Some of these, perhaps, will grow into canyons.

Drainage adjustments will follow the patterns of the past; some streams will capture the headwaters of others. Aided by the hand of man, some changes will outpace all those gone before. And with wisdom, man's way will be the right way. If man's way prevails, snowmelt from the High Uintas will moisten the parched fields of central Utah. Powell would approve.

Much of the high country—unchanged wilderness since the time of Powell and now protected by law—will remain inviolate for the enjoyment of generations yet unborn. Powell would applaud.

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Last Updated: 18-Jan-2007