Follow us Along: Amethyst Lake


Kiffer Creveling

Big rainbow the morning after a rainy night camping near Amethyst Lake

Getting Stoked:

Amethyst Lake in the High Uintas Wilderness is a place that you should add to your bucket list.  If you were born in the month of February, then you definitely need to visit Amethyst Lake. According to Wikipedia, amethyst is a purple variety of quartz and owes its violet color to irradiation. Picture that violet color not only in a crystal, but an entire basin at the end of the trail radiating in a purple hue after a recent storm cloud drenched the mountainside.  

Getting There:

Two hours from The University of Utah, the Amethyst Lake trail starts at the trailhead near Christmas Meadows campground. The six-mile, 2,000ft elevation gain one way should take you about 3.5 hours. The trail winds alongside the meadows near the river up the Bear River Drainage at first, continuing for approximately three miles until the fork in the road where you turn left to begin your drastic ascent up the mountainside. Here, you’ll come across a stunning waterfall that has carved a meandering path through granite stone like a snake slithering through the hot sand. At the top of this first ascent, the trail flattens out along a plateau near Ostler Lake. The view is to-die-for.  Continuing past the high altitude meadow, you will slowly increase your elevation up to the last plateau where Amethyst Lake resides. The trail might be difficult to see, but a few cairns will help guide the way to your destination.

Nestled away at the bottom of a cirque basin lies Amethyst Lake in the beautiful amphitheater of Amethyst Basin. The water is as blue as that of Lake Victoria in Banff National Park, or at least it seems that way from a distance, but the violet color of the rock is what makes this lake so unique. The backdrop radiates with purple mountains, right out of America the Beautiful. A clear afternoon might be beautiful and compliment the lake’s natural beauty, but the presence of clouds increases the possibility of moisture. On a recent trip to Amethyst Lake, I experienced rain during the whole trip to the lake and it rained that afternoon. I had proper rain clothing to keep my clothes and pack dry. Always be prepared for an afternoon shower. With rain, the water on the mountainside accentuated the violet tone and the rock in Amethyst Basin becomes a deep purple color.


While There: 

I brought out my fly fishing pole to enjoy my time at the lake. Some friends of mine and I noticed that other fishermen were getting a few bites from flies on a bobber.Unfortunately, we only had a traditional eight-foot fly-rod and were limited in our casting from the shore. Only ever getting bites from a few fish, we were not very lucky with the flies we were using. We proceeded to make some dinner. During our meal, the clouds opened up to allow for sunlight to light up the basin. A double rainbow appeared over Amethyst Lake that was unbelievable. Enjoying the rainbow made up for the lack of fish that we caught from the lake.

That night we got ready for bed and crossed our fingers that the sky would clear up so we could see the stars. Around four in the morning, my backpacking partner woke me up and said, “The sky is clear!  The stars are out!” You could make out the Milky Way over Ostler Peak. We quickly got our cameras and took pictures before the sun’s light faded the stars.  

Breakfast that next morning tasted even better knowing that we had such a lucky place to call home. We fished again that morning. We were unsuccessful but we had a great time. On the way back in the meadow below Ostler Peak, we took a few photos to try and best capture the beauty of the lake, but they didn’t do it any justice. You will just have to visit it for yourself in order to experience the beauty of Amethyst Lake.