“Popular but pleasant”
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 only. Continue north on UT-150 about a half mile past FR-081 to FR-032.
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 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.
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. Other campers were landing fish in the cove directly beneath our campsite.
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.
(Note: I chose zero bars on Verizon as we had no service, yet at different points around the lake I caught a momentary glimpse of service marked by a quick blast of incoming phone notifications.)
Edit: While camping is free, there is a recreation fee for the Mirror Lake Corridor of $6 for 3 days/$12 per week/$45 annually. You can buy a pass at a number of self-serve sites, at a fee booth east of Samak on UT-150, or at a number of area businesses. My favorite area business for buying a pass is Samak Smokehouse, where you can pick up some homemade jerky or smoked trout for a snack, too. Their sandwiches are to die for (go for the smoked turkey or BBQ brisket!), and I can't drive up the Mirror Lake Highway without stopping there. FYI, your America the Beautiful Pass covers this cost if you have one. For more info see https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/uwcnf/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=STELPRDB5052873 .
Grand Adventure would stay here again
This review is the opinion of a Campendium member and not of Campendium.com