About Moon Lake Resort
How can I make cabin reservations?
TO MAKE A RESERVATION:
- RESERVATION BOOKING: Reservations are made online using our website Home Page “Reservations” button or clicking on this link: HERE. Choose the cabin you want and select the dates of your stay. You must select the beginning and ending dates and all the dates in between for each cabin you are reserving. If you want to rent bedding, kitchen sets, or are bringing pets, check the box next to each of those items and enter the quantity. Enter your contact information and your payment information. You will be charged the full amount of your stay at time of booking and your reservation will be complete.
- Cancellation: Reservations may be canceled for a partial refund up to 30 days prior to arrival. There is a $50 charge per cabin for cancellations. Cancellations requested within 30 days prior to arrival are NONREFUNDABLE.
- Groups or extended stays (3 or more cabins or 7 or more nights) are subject to a 60-day cancellation policy.
- We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, and Diners Club credit cards.
- THE MOON LAKE RESORT CABINS ARE VERY POPULAR!! It is best to reserve your cabin as far in advance as possible
- We begin taking reservations more than six months in advance of each season’s opening day. Reservations are taken one season at a time.
- Advance reservations are recommended, although last-minute vacancies ARE available, especially in the off-season
- Mid-June to mid-August is high-demand PEAK season.
- Weekends (Friday & Saturday) are in the highest demand.
- Weekday (Sunday-Thursday) rates are lower. Weekend (Friday & Saturday night) stays require a 2-night-minimum. Please familiarize yourself with the RESORT’S OPERATING POLICIES.
- Pets are welcome. Please see Resort PET POLICY
- For your safety and enjoyment, please respect cabin fire-code occupancy limits
- Check-in is after 3 p.m. Please check-out before 11 a.m.
- Guests must bring their own bedding, kitchen gear, towels and paper goods, including toilet paper. (Packages containing these items can be rented when booking online).
- Tents or occupied camper vehicles are prohibited within Resort Boundaries.
What forms of payment are accepted?
- We accept Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club, American Express, and Discover credit cards. We also have an ATM at the lodge.
- THE BEST WAY TO REQUEST A RESERVATION IS ONLINE on our website Home Page “Reservations” button or clicking HERE. Your request will be answered via email or phone.
- Online request is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
- YOU MAY CONTACT US BY PHONE at (435)-454-3142
- THE BEST TIME TO CALL IS BETWEEN 10 AM AND 5 PM. If these times are not convenient, you may e-mail anytime or call, leave a message and we will call you back, and try to reach you at the time that you tell us is best for you.
- THE MOON LAKE RESORT CABINS ARE VERY POPULAR!! It is best to call as far in advance as possible to book your reservations.
- We begin taking reservations more than six months in advance of each season’s opening day. Reservations are taken one season at a time.
- Advance reservations are recommended, although last-minute vacancies ARE available, especially in the off-season, so don’t hesitate to CALL, anytime.
- BE FLEXIBLE. Have a first and alternate choice(s) for dates you’d like to stay.
- Mid-June to mid-August is a high-demand PEAK season.
- Weekends (Friday & Saturday) are in the highest demand.
- Weekday (Sunday-Thursday) rates are lower. In general, most weekend (Friday & Saturday night) stays require a 3-night-minimum, staying over Thursday or Sunday night also. Thursday & Friday or Saturday & Sunday for 2 nights is generally OK. Ask the reservationist for exceptions and specific requests.
- Please familiarize yourself with the RESORT’S OPERATING POLICIES.
- Pets are welcomed at no extra charge. Please see Resort PET POLICY
- For your safety and enjoyment, please respect cabin fire-code occupancy limits
- Check-in is after 3 p.m. Please check-out before 11 a.m.
- Guests must bring their own bedding, kitchen gear, towels, and paper goods, including Toilet Paper. (Packages containing these items can be rented at an additional charge with significant advance notice).
- Tents or occupied camper vehicles are prohibited within Resort Boundaries.
How can I contact Moon Lake Resort?
You are currently viewing Moon Lake Resort’s Internet Website: www.moonlakeresort.com
For general information and answers, click on the link: Frequently Asked Questions
We may be contacted VIA E-MAIL at: firstname.lastname@example.org
YOU MAY CONTACT US BY PHONE at: (435)-454-3142
YOU MAY CONTACT US BY MAIL at:
Moon Lake Resort
HC 65 Box 124
Mountain Home, Utah 84051
What is the resort’s operating season?
OPENS: Memorial Day Weekend
CLOSES: Last weekend of September
The lodge/store is open daily from 8 AM TO 8 PM. We close from 5:30 to 6:30 each evening for employee dinner.
What are the cabins like?
We like to refer to our accommodations as “camping in a house“.
Because “RUSTIC” is a relative and subjective term, you need to ask yourself what your own definition of that word is before we say that RUSTIC sufficiently describes our place.
Is your definition: Four walls, roof and floor, windows and doors, electricity, gas heat, cold water sink, gas stove, refrigerator, dining table and double beds to sleep on ? (This describes our two most “rustic” cabins, #14 and #22, that do not include interior bathroom facilities)
Is your definition: All of the above, plus a toilet, sink and shower (hot water, included) ? (This describes our 13 “full-facility” cabins of varying sizes)
Is your definition: A hotel room minus maid and room service ? This does not describe anything you will find at Moon Lake. (If this is your definition of “rustic”, you should probably not be coming here. Sorry.)
IN OTHER WORDS, we like to think we provide the basics in comfort and convenience while still being close to the natural setting and timeless feel of the forest experience we are a part of.
The cabins are drier, warmer and more comfortable than tent camping, but perhaps, not as luxurious as some personal RV and trailer rigs we’ve seen, and certainly not a hotel, or even a motel room accommodation.
The oldest cabins date back to 1935 and the most “modern” larger cabins were built in the early 1950’s. The cabins have all been brought up to current building codes for health and safety in a basic “vacation” structure. They are not fancy and they are, likely, not as nice as your own home, but for many long-time guests they are a “home away from home”.
They are “cabins in the woods”.
They are funky but functional, well-worn, but clean and convenient.
The beds have a clean sheet covering on the mattress. You bring your own bedding, such as blankets, pillows, sleeping bags, etc.
Kitchens have stoves. You bring all your own utensils, pots, pans, paper goods, etc
Each cabin has a fire-ring with surrounding log seating outside the cabin.
We recommend you bring your own favorite camping chairs. There are no grills or picnic tables outside and no fireplaces inside. There are no phones, TVs or Internet hookups in the cabins. Some cabins have covered porches; some do not. Most have a view of the lake; some are more surrounded by trees than others. All are within a typical 5-minute walk to the lake-shore.
What public services does the resort offer?
Lodge peak season hours are 8 AM TO 8 PM DAILY.
Daily Spring and Fall hours vary by demand
The LODGE welcomes the general public as well as Resort guests.
The Lodge provides:
- Hospitality, information and free advice to all visitors
- Check-in, check-out desk plus all hospitality services to Resort guests
- A general public convenience store stocked with camping essentials, fishing supplies, basic groceries, ice cream, ice, snacks, firewood, clothing, souvenirs, and other treats.
NOTE: The lodge DOES NOT, currently, provide sit-down meal service, although a restaurant is in future plans for the Resort.
- Public watercraft rentals of 14-foot aluminum motorized fishing boats, kayaks and peddle boats (SEE BOATS page)
- Click here for OTHER RENTAL SERVICES
- Horseback trail rides
- Online access to State fishing (and hunting) license website.
visit Utah DWR Site Here prior to visiting Moon Lake, but if you don’t, we can still help you here.
- The only public access PHONE within 16 miles. This public courtesy phone uses pre-paid calling cards (available for purchase in the store) for long-distance calls. Emergency 911 and local calls are free of charge.
NOTE: Most CELL PHONES DO NOT WORK at or around Moon Lake.
- Free public-use recreation access to horseshoes, volleyball and basketball courts, and small kids sandbox
- Board games available on loan
- General information about trails, activities, history, natural resources, wildlife and other area attractions
- Referrals to local businesses and services
- A public message board for camper and cabin guest communications
How can I make boat reservations?
Any Resort staff member can reserve a boat for you by phone.
It is not mandatory to reserve boats in advance, however, to assure your rental, it is best to reserve in advance as they sometimes go quickly.
Payment is required if you do reserve in advance. Please confirm your reservation with payment the day before.
If arriving on the same day as your requested rental, please confirm your reservation with payment prior to the start time of the rental period.
All renters must be at least 21 years of age and are required to sign a waiver of liability and equipment damage agreement.
All renters will receive instruction on safe use of the boat regardless of boating experience.
What are the resort’s operating policies?
Current RESORT POLICIES are, as follows:
- Rates are subject to change. Some reservation restrictions may apply.
- RESERVATIONS are made online and full payment is made at the time of the reservation.
- No refunds will be given for cancellations made within 30 days of arrival date.
- A refund, less $50 per cabin, will be given for cancellations made at least 30 days prior to arrival.
- Reservations involving 7 or more cabin nights, (groups or extended stays) must cancel within 60 days of arrival
- GROUPS (3 or more cabins) must have a designated leader responsible for handling all aspects of the reservation.
- There is a $20 charge for all returned checks.
- CHECK-IN IS AFTER 3:00 P.M. CHECK-OUT IS BY 11:00 A.M.
- QUIET HOURS are observed between 10 pm and 8 am. Love thy neighbor.
- Please bring bedding, kitchen gear, towels, cleaning supplies and paper products, unless rented from the lodge.
- Maid service is not provided during your stay. Cabins are cleaned before and after your stay.
- State Fire Code limits the number of occupants in each cabin. Please respect the sleeping-occupancy limits.
- Pets are welcome. All must be leashed, cleaned up after & kept quiet. SEE PET POLICY.
- Tents and occupied camper vehicles are NOT permitted on Resort property.
- ATVs are NOT permitted on Resort property nor does the Forest Service allow them at the lake.
Do you have a “Good Neighbor” policy?
IF YOU COUNT YOURSELF AMONG THOSE WHO LOVE AND RESPECT THIS PLACE PLEASE CONSIDER THIS:
“To everything there is a season”
10 PM IS THE SEASON OF QUIET.
A barking dog is NO man’s best friend.
Keep them quiet or leave them home.
LOVE THY NEIGHBOR.
If you’re not sure how things work around here — just ask us.
We’re here to help.
Make yourself comfortable here…
but with the same respect you would have for your own home.
If you rearrange furniture, please put it back as you found it.
Many others will follow…hopefully, without a trail you left behind.
One man’s trash is another furry little creature’s treasure.
Choose your dinner guests wisely. Put a lid on it.
Teach your children well!
Great pains (mostly back) were taken to provide you with a fun and functional fire-ring area.
Hacking, whacking, carving, sawing, cutting, burning, marking or disarranging of rocks, logs and trees will NOT be enjoyed or appreciated by anyone other than, perhaps, you.
Please leave well enough alone.
The US Forest Service (who permits us to occupy this property) considers it a crime to deliberately cause injury to natural resources, including trees and wildlife of all kinds.
SO DO WE.
Learn something new about this place.
Learn something new about yourself.
Watch a sunset, a moonrise, a moonset and a sunrise–all in one night, if you can.
FRIENDS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME
Are pets allowed?
YES. Moon Lake Resort is operated under permit of the Ashley National Forest. Under our permit regulations, pets are allowed, under restraint and control of their owners.
Forest Service regulations allow and govern pets in the campgrounds, as well.
Moon Lake Resort is very pet-friendly, with owner responsibility and compliance being the major factors shaping our pet policy. We have welcomed a wide variety of pets, including dogs, cats, lizards, snakes, parrots, ferrets, bunnies and even wolves and bobcats; all under proper supervision and restraint.
THERE IS A $10 PER PET FEE.
(This is a PER STAY, NOT a per night fee.)
You will be asked to sign your pet(s) in at check-in to ensure that everyone is aware of the Resort “pet policy”.
PLEASE REVIEW OUR POLICIES prior to booking and advise your friends and family members that are coming with you to do the same.
Please limit dogs to 2 per cabin unless prior approval has been given.
THE RESORT PET POLICY is as follows:
- Pets must be leashed and under owner control on Resort property.
- Owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets.
- Owners are financially responsible for property damage caused by pets.
- Owners are financially and legally responsible for any harm their pet causes to another pet or person.
- Aggressive, potentially dangerous pets are NOT WELCOME.
- Loud barkers or incessant yappers are NOT WELCOME.
- If you think your pet might be a problem, please leave it home.
A BARKING DOG IS NO MAN’S BEST FRIEND – LOVE THY NEIGHBOR.
- Incessantly barking dogs at any time of the day will be considered a nuisance.
Pets(and guests) reported as a nuisance to other guests will require resort management intervention, up to and including removal from the property
- Do NOT tie your pet(s) outside and leave them alone!
- Do NOT leave your dog in the Cabin alone for extended periods.
- Do NOT leave food outside the cabins. This will attract unwanted animals.
Basically the Policy is this: Leashed – Kept Quiet and Cleaned up after – at ALL TIMES!
What is the history of Moon Lake Resort?
The following condensed version of MOON LAKE RESORT’S HISTORY is the result of cooperative research efforts undertaken by a number of people, including: Cristina Bailey, historical writer for the US Forest Service, Cris Clark Sorensen, daughter of long-time Resort owner, Cal Clark (1960’s-1990’s), Mr. Joe Kemp, son of Joseph H. Kemp, long-time Resort owner (1940’s-1960’s), Pam Helms, local Duchesne resident, historical researcher and Resort employee, Bill Reardon, previous owner of Moon Lake Resort, plus many written and oral accounts, all gratefully appreciated in piecing the puzzle together.
Our collective History of Moon Lake Resort goes like this:
In 1925, the first special use permit was issued by the US Forest Service, allowing the establishment of a resort at Moon Lake. The first “lodge” was probably constructed around 1927-28 near the mouth of the Brown Duck Creek, in front of the current campground. The first cabins were probably built in 1928 by the Lee Alger family. It is unclear whether a second “lodge” building was constructed by the Algers at the Brown Duck location, but it is reasonably certain that a lodge burned down here in 1934, when “gasoline, instead of kerosene, was added to a wood-burning stove,” according to an Alger family member.
The construction of the Moon Lake Dam and reservoir, beginning in 1935, made it necessary to move the resort to its new, present location. The original cabins were moved to their present location in 1935 by a team of sturdy horses after a Model T failed at the task.
The June 28, 1935, special edition of the Uintah Basin Record newspaper reported, “the construction of new cabins which are to house the reclamation crew and which will later provide tourist accommodations. A new store, pool hall and beer parlor are now in operation here, to accommodate the workers and visitors.” The original building, referred to in the article, is the core structure of the lodge today–a single-story use structure with an unfinished upper level. The original beer “bar” remains in the lodge today.
Another article in this paper refers to CCC improvements of the recreation area at Moon Lake that seem to reference the additional cabin construction in 1935. It is believed that today’s cabins # 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 & 10 were the cabins constructed by the CCC at this time.
The Alger family operated the resort until 1944 when it was sold to a local resident, Joseph H. Kemp. The Kemp family operated the resort until 1962, adding the most “modern” cabins, #7,9,11,12, 23 & 24 in the early 1950s. The Kemps also built additions on the lodge, currently used as a staff kitchen and sleeping areas, and installed small sleeping rooms in the upper level of the lodge, which are unused by the public today.
Cal Clark and six partners purchased the resort from Kemp in 1962. Cal, soon after, became the sole owner. Many family members, friends, locals, and Salt Lake school teachers managed the resort over various seasons during Clark’s ownership. In the early 1970’s, bathroom facilities were added in or onto all but two of the 15 cabins in use today.
In 1994, Cal’s daughter, Kathy, formed a corporation with three other friends, titled Moon Lake Resort, Inc. Also, in 1994, the corporation hired Bill and Julie Reardon as co-managers of the resort. The Reardons assumed full General Manager duties in 1998 and by 2002, the Reardons acquired 100% shareholder interest in the business. In November of 2019, the Reardons sold the resort to the Gardners. They currently own and operate Moon Lake Resort under a Special Use Permit of the Ashley National Forest issued to them in 2020.
About Moon Lake
What is Moon Lake?
Moon Lake is the largest lake in Utah’s highest mountains, the High Uinta(h)s, (both naturally and as a dam-enhanced irrigation water reservoir). It sits within the Ashley National Forest and transects the High Uinta Wilderness. The reservoir’s full capacity surface level is 8,137 feet above sea level. The reservoir’s level can drop 80 feet in elevation (creating a ½ mile sand “beach,” including sand dunes) but the deepest spots in the natural lake will remain at measures of 120 feet (to tales of “bottomless”). The reservoir is approximately 3½ miles long and nearly a mile at its widest and fullest.
Where is Moon Lake?
Moon Lake is “OUT OF THIS WORLD BUT STILL IN UTAH“
Moon Lake is located in the northeast quadrant of Utah in an aspen and lodgepole pine forest. It is approximately 70 miles west of its more famous neighbor, the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area at the Wyoming border, close to Colorado. It is 32 miles north of the town of Duchesne (pronounced DOO SHANE) on US 40. From Duchesne, it is accessed via SR 87 north and the county road through Mountain Home to Moon Lake.
Moon Lake is approximately 140-180 miles east of Salt Lake City and the cities on the Wasatch Front, typically a 3-3 ½ hour drive from there.
NOTE: WATCH YOUR SPEED 20 MILES WEST OR EAST OF DUCHESNE, Especially On A FRIDAY Or SATURDAY Evening. The Utah State Highway Patrol Does An EXCELLENT Job Of Enforcing Speed Limits On This Stretch Of US 40.
What is the weather like at Moon Lake?
This most frequently asked question has no definitive answer, but here are some of our best guesses:
1. Mountain weather is constantly changing. The old expression, “If you don’t like the weather, wait an hour and it’ll change” absolutely applies to Moon Lake weather. In fact, sometimes it changes much quicker than that.
2. A good rule of thumb to gauge TEMPERATURES is–subtract 10-20 degrees from your current Salt Lake City temperatures and that’s about where Moon Lake should be at that time.
3. If there is such a thing as an “AVERAGE” DAY, it might go something like this:
- Sunrise to 10 am — usually little wind and pleasant warming as the sun hits the lake
- 10:30 am – 4:30 pm — wind usually picks up and changes direction over the lake with breezier but pleasant cooling (or warming) through mid-day. Good hiking weather.
- 5:00 pm – sunset — wind usually slacks off, calming the lake as temperature begins to drop
- Nighttime — on average, ten to twenty degrees cooler than daytime highs
*Above describes a “typical” Moon Lake pattern, but have you ever seen anything typical or predictable about weather? – especially mountain weather – really?
4. “TYPICAL” SEASONAL PATTERNS might go something like this:
Memorial Day Weekend to Mid-June — occasionally unsettled and transitional weather between Winter and Spring conditions, sometimes great, sometimes iffy
Mid-June to Mid-July — more settled, Spring-like weather, a little cool, maybe a little breezy, but generally dry and pleasant
Mid-July to Mid-August — warmest days in general, but with the best possibility of (mostly) afternoon thundershowers that usually pass through Mid-August to end of September — transition between Summer and Fall weather, usually more settled than early Spring, with pleasant temperatures, typically 10-15 degrees cooler than Summer. Potential for spectacular Fall foliage color displays and warm, sunny days.
*Above seasonal patterns are “typical”. Extreme drought and El Niño years make everything even more unpredictable than normal. If we could be any more accurate in our predictions, we’d be making the big bucks as TV meteorologists.
5. PACKING TIP — Pack three-season clothing, including rain gear. Usually, we wear a T-shirt, sweatshirt and jeans almost every day through the season, with only a few occasions requiring us to wear more or less. One might need as little as a bathing suit and as much as a snow parka, all in the same day. Pack extra clothes (and shoes) for kids, as the lure of the lake tends to get them wet and muddy.
6. BOTTOM LINE — With weather, there are NO guarantees–it’s in the hands of a Higher Power.
What are the best things about Moon Lake?
This question has many answers, but, perhaps is best summed up by a guest who once stated,
“You know this is really a great place when you see the teenagers who didn’t want to get into the car to come here, not wanting to get into the car to leave.“
Of course, this is not always the case, but this comment has always helped to define the essence of the Moon Lake experience.
What seems most treasured by visitors to Moon Lake is what is often expressed as “the gift of time in a timeless place.” It is a place of fond memory and new discovery, for both new and long-returning visitors alike.
It seems that when people get here, it is so far removed from their normal daily lives and routines, that a disconnect from that world takes place and just that time-away is a gift and a pleasure unto itself.
There is something in the air, here, whether it’s the clear mountain air itself, or the awe-inspiring beauty of the forest and mountains, or the time and open space to clear one’s head, or whatever. But most visitors experience something special about being here; something they take with them and, from what we often hear, something cherished long beyond their stay. Many can’t define it in words, but most feel something good from this place and most are eager to return.
Perhaps, just being here is the best thing about Moon Lake. You’ll have to judge for yourself.
What is there to do at Moon Lake?
Well, to name a few things, here goes:
- Making unforgettable family memories
- Wildlife viewing
- Taking photographs
- Spending time with loved ones
- Meeting new friends
- Talking with others
- Learning about Nature
- Learning about yourself
- Learning about others
- Playing in the sand
- Skipping stones
- Camp cooking
- Toasting marshmallows
- Flying kites
- Riding bikes
- Playing outdoor games
- Playing indoor games
- Playing volleyball, horseshoes, basketball, pinball, foosball and video games at the lodge
- Using your imagination
- Remembering the past
- Thinking about the future
- Writing your journal
- Horseback riding
- And more
Can you camp at Moon Lake?
PLEASE NOTE : MOON LAKE RESORT HAS NO ROLE OR RESPONSIBILITY IN THE MANAGEMENT OR RESERVATIONS OF THE CAMPGROUNDS.
(The Resort reserves cabin lodging ONLY but also provides public hospitality, information and recreation services/support to all campers and visitors in the area).
YES. The Roosevelt/Duchesne Ranger District of the Ashley National Forest currently manages two fee camping areas at Moon Lake. These US Forest Service campgrounds sit on either side of Moon Lake Resort.
Information on these campgrounds is available by calling the Ranger District offices at (435)-738-2482 in Duchesne.
Campground reservation service is available at the National Recreation Reservation System (NRRS) by calling 1-877-444-6777 or via the Internet at http://www.recreation.gov
A 54-site campground (32-reservable, 22-first-come, first-served sites) is adjacent to the Resort (west) and a large-Group Campground comprised of two reservable sites (A & B) is adjacent to our east. These campgrounds provide flush toilet, pit-toilet and cold-water access, but have NO public showers, nor any individual-site electrical hookups or water taps.
2013 SPECIAL NOTICE: A Forest Service renovation and improvement project in Fall, 2012 has CHANGED THE LAYOUT AND SITE NUMBERING OF THE SINGLE-SITE CAMPGROUND.
LOOK FOR THE UPDATED MAP THAT SHOWS SITE #1 AS THE FIRST SITE IN THE UPPER LOOP. (Details and updated photos of each individual site can be viewed by clicking on the numbered site icons on the Facility Map view on the Recreation.gov site).
NOTE: Many people have reported to us that they find the NRRS reservation website (and even phone) reservation system to be confusing and less than sufficiently informative. Here’s a few tips and suggestions that may help you:
1. View OUR numbered “Campground Site Map” and our “ Cabin Site Map including Campground”. (We feel these maps give a decent perspective in locating sites and areas nearby).
2. Use this direct link for the 54 Single Site Campground (listed as Moon Lake Campground (UT) in the NRRS system): http://www.recreation.gov/camping/Moonlake_Ut/r/campgroundDetails.do?page=details&agency=NRSO&parkId=73715
3. Use this direct link for the Group (A & B Sites) Campground (listed as Moon Lake GROUP Campground (UT) in the NRRS system): http://www.recreation.gov/camping/Moon_Lake_Campground_Ut/r/campgroundDetails.do?agency=NRSO&parkId=70095
4. If you prefer to PHONE for reservations, make sure you SPECIFY to the agent WHICH campground you are calling about (EITHER single-sites-“Moon Lake Campground” or group-“Moon Lake Group Campground” as they are listed above in the NRRS System). We suggest the first question you ask the agent is, “Does your information include only 2 large group sites or does it show 54 individual sites?” The agent’s response will tell you whether they are looking at the right campground or not.
5. Moon Lake Resort cannot vouch for the accuracy of information on the Recreation.gov website or reservation system. We can only vouch for the information on our website that you are currently viewing
P.S.: Camping in tents or trailers is PROHIBITED on the Moon Lake Resort property
(See Resort Policies).
What are the trails like at Moon Lake?
Three main hiking trailheads originate from the Moon lake Recreation Area:
1) THE LAKE FORK TRAIL is the most casual day hike in the area. This trail accesses the north (head) of Moon Lake via the west side of the lake on Round Mountain.
Starting from the lake access parking area near the lower loop campground fence, this trail can be enjoyed by hikers of all ages. The “steepest” part of this trail is at the beginning, just after crossing the little bridge over the Brown Duck Creek. Rising no more than about 400 feet above the lake, the trail can be hiked at just about any pace, to reach the north end of the lake in about 1- 2 hours. From campground to north end is only about 1½ miles of mostly gradual ascending and descending trail. Hikers can turn around at any point and still get some great views, in and out of the trees, overlooking the lake. Most day hikers go only to the north end of the lake, but the trail continues for many miles up the Lake Fork Drainage passed a High Uintas Wilderness sign.
TIP: GOING: The main trail descends as you approach the back end of the lake. It can be a little tricky to find the best path from the main trail to the shoreline. If you see where the water ends and the TREES BEGIN, you are close to the path that will take you most easily down to the lakeshore. TIP 2: A few minutes passed a big, reddish vertical sheer rock face (about 20 feet high or more) on the left side of the trail (going up-lake), start looking to the right for a path (sometimes marked with a rock cairn) through the trees to the forest floor and the shore at the head of the lake where the best fishing and picnicking is.
RETURNING: Mark or remember the spot where you emerged through the trees to the forest floor and remember to back-track, ascending to the intersection of and onto the main trail.
This is the most recommended, best-value day hike.
2) THE FISH CREEK TRAIL is accessed by crossing the dam at the southeast end of Moon Lake. The trail heads north by skirting the east side of the lake until it reaches the rocky fan where Fish Creek enters the lake. From here, it becomes moderately steep and a little rocky as it roughly follows the ascent of Fish Creek uphill into the forest. This trail features numerous vantage points giving open views west across the lake. The wooded trail opens up in a little meadow, about 1½ -2 hours into this hike. This is a good turn-around point or you can continue uphill, picking your way through trees on a less-defined trail above the meadow up to Mill Park below Lake Fork (Petty)Mountain where a vehicle could pick you up and return via the Hell’s Canyon and Yellowstone Canyon Roads. The trail to the little meadow from the dam is moderately strenuous and sometimes considered a little tough for young children. It is one of the lesser-used trails in the area, generally affording more private moments than other trails.
3) THE BROWN DUCK TRAIL can be accessed from the High Uintas Trailhead near the horse corrals, approximately ¼ mile south of the Resort. It starts at the northwest end of the Trailhead parking area, heading west up an old jeep trail, then turning north and crossing the High Uinta Wilderness boundary before connecting with the main foot trail to the Brown Duck Basin. The Brown Duck Trail also originates from the lower loop (northeast corner) of the single-site FS campground just beyond the Resort. From this point, the trail ascends steeply for more than a mile. Starting from the Trailhead parking area is generally considered the easier start to this hike. Either way, you are enveloped in the woods with very few wide-ranging views throughout this hike until you reach the first lake in the basin, Brown Duck Lake, after about 7 miles and a 2,000-foot elevation gain. Since the real payoff on this hike is the lake basin, this is more often recommended (and enjoyed) as an overnight camping experience than a day hike. 3-3 ½ hours is typically required to reach the basin and the same to return. This is the most-used trail from Moon Lake into the upper Wilderness Area by hikers, horses and at times, grazing cattle.
This is, by no means, a casual day hike.
NOTE: ATVS ARE PROHIBITED in the Lake Fork Drainage and Moon Lake Recreation Area by way of a new Forest Service Order signed in February, 2005 and in effect for the 2005 season forward.
Nearby Yellowstone and Hell’s Canyons have extensively developed trails for ATV enthusiasts. Current travel and trail information is available at US Forest Service Ranger Stations in Duchesne and Roosevelt.
No mechanized or motorized vehicles of any kind are allowed within the High Uinta Wilderness Area, which is marked on these trails by a boundary sign. This includes mountain bikes. As far as mountain bikes go, there are not really any “great” bike trails in the immediate area around Moon Lake.
THERE IS NO TRAIL THAT ENCIRCLES THE LAKE. The Lake Fork Trail accesses the north end of the lake on its west side but does not return south on the east side of the lake. There is no trail on the east side, north of Fish Creek to the north end of the lake. Anyone attempting this route will be boulder scrambling and bush-whacking until they reach the really big obstacle on that side. The east shore of the lake is scarred by a diagonally ascending, sliding shale cliff that is mostly impossible to cross without swimming past it or climbing 1,000 feet to get over it.
There are far smarter, more fun, and safer things to do than attempting to encircle the lake just to say you did it.
Are there any off-road opportunities at Moon Lake?
(First, please view the FAQ about ATV’s at Moon Lake).
The following are two main offerings we could recommend.
Please read the descriptions carefully. Try not to overestimate your abilities.
You are on your own if you venture forth.
1) HIGH UINTAS PANORAMA VIEW From atop Lake Fork (Petty) Mountain
4WD IS BEST BUT MOST ANY CAR CAN DO THIS ONE (Good ground clearance IS recommended)
- Head South from Moon Lake Resort
- (About 11 miles from Resort)TURN LEFT (east) onto dirt– YELLOWSTONE ROAD (4WD is best but most any car can do this)
- Travel about 6 miles. TURN LEFT onto dirt HELL’S CANYON ROAD (just past the ATV Trailhead and parking area)
- Stay on Hell’s Canyon Road to MILL PARK turnoff (left)
- At Mill Park SIGN (with cattle fence ahead), BEAR LEFT onto the dirt truck track that follows the wooden cattle fence (passing a tall gate) to the south and west. Stay on that track as it weaves through trees away from the fence (now barbed wire). You will soon see a clearing view down the mountain, to the left, where you can see Twin Potts Reservoir.
- Keep going on the track until you reach a rocky knob and a barbed wire fence (PARK HERE)
- Cross the fence on foot, heading west on the rocky spine of the mountaintop, hike about ¾(?)mile to a spectacular panoramic view overlooking Moon Lake and the High Uintas mountain range. NOTE: (You should pass a big metal box enclosing a weather camera and you won’t be to the best viewpoint until you can look down at Moon Lake)
TIPS:NOT ADVISABLE WITH SNOW ON THE GROUND
Allow about 4 hours for the best experience
Give yourself an hour to drive there
Give yourself an hour to drive back
Give yourself at least an hour or two to hike out,
SOAK IN THE VIEW and return to car.
Take plenty of water and snacks (You will be at nearly 11,000 feet)
Take cameras and binoculars
2) DRY RIDGE OVERLOOK(Above the Brown Duck Lake Basin and Moon Lake)
CAUTION:This is a serious 4 WD trek, requiring planning, patience, ground clearance, good equipment and tools and skills to get you out of trouble. No street cars need apply.
Note: Many visitors to Moon Lake would like to venture further in exploring the Wilderness nearby, but for one reason or another, cannot take on the foot hiking challenge. The Brown Duck Basin is the nearest Wilderness High Lakes Basin to Moon Lake. The hike from Moon Lake to Brown Duck Lake is a 7+ mile, 2,000 foot elevation rise over a sometimes steep and almost always, rocky foot trail.
But, there IS another way to seethe Brown Duck Basin in one day and in one big panoramic view—IF, and ONLY if, you have a dependable 4WD vehicle with decent ground clearance. Here’s HOW:
- Head South from Moon Lake Resort
- Pass Twin Potts Reservoir(s) on the right on the Ute Tribal Grounds.
- Once past the Reservoir, you will view a downhill straightaway section of road ahead.
- In a mile or so, as the road bears gently left, you should notice a dirt road to the right at the base of high sage bank. You need to slow down and make almost-a- U-turn to the right to get on this road. (If you miss this road, the next intersecting road will be the Yellowstone turnoff to the left, a couple miles further and marked by big trees). Turn around there and double back. The dirt road turnoff will now be on the left and should be easier to spot. (If you reach Twin Potts—you missed it again!—If so, maybe you shouldn’t be trying this).
- Stay on this dirt road heading northwest until you reach signs and fences designating Indian Land and Ashley National Forest Land. Here’s where it gets confusing, but if you keep following the road towards Bear Wallow and Dry Ridge, rising in elevation north and west, you’re doing OK.
- Follow the main flow of the road without turning off sharply in any direction, all the while climbing upward.
- You should be on the Dry Ridge, Ashley National Forest Road, signed to allow 4WD traffic, but prohibiting ATVs. Check latest Duchesne District FS travel map.
- Stay on this “road” as it winds through Pine tree stands, occasionally giving up views to Moon Lake and the cliffs above the Dam. In about 3-3 ½ hours at a slow, cautious, occasionally rock-crawling pace, you will dead-end on a rock-knobby area below a radio transmission tower, overlooking the Brown Duck Basin to the right(east, northeast)
- Stretch out and SOAK IN THE VIEW (Bring a topo map to identify the lakes)
- Figure about the same amount of time to crawl back down the mountain
TIPS: NOT ADVISABLE WITH SNOW ON THE GROUND
Do NOT consider this without a serious 4 WD vehicle!… and tools to get you out.
Start early and expect to spend most of a day
Be careful not to high-center (easily done in spots)
Bring plenty of water and snacks, camera and binoculars
Let someone know you’re going up and when you expect to be back down
Bring a cell phone but don’t count on it working.
What is the fishing like?
The best fishing spots are:
1) in the stream channels at the back end of the lake; using flies, worms or lures from the head of the stream where it enters the lake to about 300 feet into the lake in about 15-20 foot depths. (Boaters should use vigilant caution here due to greatly varying depths, rocks and stumps at the north end of the lake, which may result in prop damage and snagged lines).
2) trolling in the stream flow of the natural lake about 5 boat lengths out from the north and east shorelines and running from the back end of the lake to the dam. This shore is a good bet for close-to-surface and down to 30-foot depth fishing.
3) jigging and casting near the spring seeps at the “ledges”
4) variably, at each main stream inlet; the Lake Fork, Brown Duck and Fish Creek.
5) right off the sandy south shore with a worm floating a foot off the bottom.
6) fly-fishing holes in the Lake Fork River above the lake and below the dam.
7) in the rocky areas at the dam
8) in the Beaver Ponds about 6 miles downriver.
9) Right where you’re at or just a little out of your reach, depending on luck.
The worst times to fish are:
1) One hour before sunrise (it’s cold!) and one hour before dark (they’ll just tease you).
2) When it’s windy.
3) When lightning is in the area.
4) On the summer’s hottest days, mid-day.
5) When you’re grouchy or hung-over.
What kinds of fish are in Moon Lake?
The lake has native populations and is also annually stocked by Utah DWR. The fish in and around the lake are:
1) Pan-fry RAINBOW TROUT stocked yearly (6-10 inches we’ve seen grow to 27).
2) Fingerling to 10+ pound SPLAKE (a sterile Lake and Brook trout hatchery hybrid). Fingerlings have been stocked yearly for a while and this fish is now becoming the dominant lake predator, though very tricky to catch as it gets larger. Big ones are only active at night, according to DWR experts.
3) KOKANEE SALMON about 6-16 inches, mostly active in Spring and Fall.
4) BROOK TROUT, CUTTHROAT TROUT and ARCTIC GREYLING.
5) TIGER TROUT were introduced in 2004.
6) MOUNTAIN WHITEFISH and other “sucker” varieties, rarely caught and usually considered “trash” fish.
7) The mystery “monster” fish scoped at 80 to 120 foot depths near the ledges near the deepest part of the “natural” lake. They might possibly be big Lake or Brown Trout, according to old-timers, Moon Lake devotees and other Fish-Story tellers.
8) The “Moon Lake Monster”-him/her/itself(?)– but that’s another story.
What are the lake conditions like?
1. The calmest surface hours on the lake are most usually between 7 and 10:00 a.m. and again, between 4 and 7:00 p.m. (Also, usually the best fishing hours). Winds typically vary in all directions through the middle of the day. To minimize wind effect, always travel into or with the wind, or pull in close to the shore where the wind is coming from. Get off the lake immediately if whitecaps begin to form.
2. Thunder may soon be followed by lightning. Get off the lake if you hear thunder, especially if the sky darkens near Round Mountain and the back north end of the lake.
3. The deepest parts of the lake are extremely cold. DO NOT go swimming out of the boat here at the risk of hypothermia and capsizing.
Can canoes be used on Moon Lake?
YES–But at your own risk.
Moon Lake is prone to gusting and quickly changing winds, especially in mid-day. We’ve seen these winds create great difficulties and danger for non-motorized watercraft caught in the deep mid-section of the lake.
Quick moving lightning and thunderstorms are also hazardous for paddlers too far from shore, here. Moon Lake water is extremely cold and hypothermia will set in rapidly if you capsize.
The Resort rents kayaks and canoes. Renters of these craft are instructed and cautioned to NOT cross the lake’s deep, cold mid-section and to ALWAYS stay close to shorelines. We recommend this caution to all boaters.
Can big boats be used on Moon Lake?
SOMETIMES. Here are the things to consider:
There is NO BOAT RAMP at Moon Lake
The lake level can change daily. The fluctuating level of the lake goes something like this:
Moon Lake is usually at its fullest level at the start of the season in May and June. Sometimes, snow melt inflow equals or exceeds irrigation outflow and the level holds for a month or more. More typically, though, irrigation outflow exceeds inflow near July and the lake starts to draw down, creating (in dry years) up to nearly ½ mile of sand beach.
On a day-to-day basis, this can result in ten to forty feet of saturated shoreline above the water’s edge. If your boat or personal watercraft needs to be floated off its trailer, your truck and trailer might not be coming out of the lake as easily as it went in. In other words, you’re stuck in the sand/mud mix that is Moon Lake’s famous vehicle-swallowing shoreline.
WE GUARANTEE that 4 x 4’s DO NOT walk on water, despite what you see in commercials.
It is highly recommended that you check with Resort staff before attempting to launch from a trailer in the water.
All in all, small fishing boats, able to be launched by hand, from the shore, are best suited for the size and conditions of this lake. We rent 14-foot aluminum boats like this.
(See BOATS page)
Can personal watercraft be used on Moon Lake?
MAYBE. Currently, we know of nothing legally prohibiting the use of jet skis, waverunners, etc. on Moon Lake. But, here are a few things to consider:
- The water in Moon Lake is extremely cold–it is high mountain snow melt that never really warms up much through the season. Starvation State Park outside Duchesne (32 miles south of Moon Lake) is much larger, warmer and better suited for this activity.
- Moon Lake is primarily a small boat fishing lake where big wake and wave activity is not appreciated by the majority of users (who are these fisherman).
- Sound carries. Just as ATV users on the lakeshore conflicted with other users, personal watercraft riders have generated numerous complaints, disturbing fisherman and the general public alike, with the noise these craft produce. Geographically, Moon Lake sits in the bowl of a canyon, nearly surrounded by mountains and ridges that steeply ascend 1,000 feet above the lake. This landscape amplifies loud sounds on the lake and spreads that sound throughout the atmosphere of the entire area. The sound of personal watercraft on Moon Lake generates more complaints than any other factors in their use here. We believe that this factor and the fishing disturbance factor will, inevitably, result in the legal restriction of these craft on Moon Lake.
- No docks or launches. The fluctuating levels of the lake often require that watercraft trailers be driven into the water to launch. Quite often, this can result in vehicles getting stuck in the saturated shoreline. Moon Lake is famous for swallowing vehicles and we guarantee that 4 x 4’s DO NOT walk on water, despite what you see in commercials.
Contact the US Forest Service Ranger District offices at
(435)-738-2482 in Duchesne or
Utah State Parks and Recreation at (801)-538-7220
for further information about personal watercraft use.
State laws are in effect and enforceable at Moon Lake.
Are ATVs allowed?
NO ! As of February, 2005, ATVs are prohibited by US Forest Service Decision and Order from the lakeshore, beach, sand dunes and all roads and trails in the Lake Fork Canyon and Moon Lake Recreation Area.
THIS IS A NEW RULING — IN EFFECT FOR THE 2005 SEASON. The following is an excerpt of the Forest Supervisor’s Order as it pertains to Moon Lake:
“It is my decision to close the Lake Fork drainage to all ATV use. The original proposal was to close the area around the Moon Lake Resort, the Moon Lake Campground, and the Lake Fork trailhead to ATV use while continuing to allow some use of ATV’s along the Moon Lake beaches near the dam. Both respondents to the scoping letter and folks administering ATV use in the Moon Lake area, suggest that allowing this minimal use in the Lake Fork drainage will concentrate use and cause major user conflicts along the Moon Lake shoreline. Allowing a play area off of designated routes is also contrary to the Ashley National Forest order restricting all ATV use to designated roads and trails. Use of ATV’s close to these developed facilities is incompatible with the intended purpose of these recreation developments. There are no other designated routes or places to ride ATV’s in the Lake Fork drainage other than that previously allowed along the reservoir and the sand dunes. Eliminated ATV use along the Moon Lake shoreline and sand dunes effectively closes the Lake Fork drainage to ATV use. This decision will take effect in for the 2005 summer season.”
Previously, ATVs were always prohibited on the trails and roads in the Lake Fork Canyon but they WERE ALLOWED on the beach lakeshore of Moon Lake. However, with their increased use and popularity in the last ten years, problems also increased rapidly at Moon Lake.
Unregulated, unsafe, irresponsible and, often, illegal activities of some ATV riders created conflicts with other user groups at Moon Lake, including accidents, violations, public disturbance and natural resource destruction resulting in numerous complaints to the US Forest Service.
After soliciting public comment and studying the Moon Lake situation, the Forest Service has decided that ATV use on the lakeshore is an inappropriate recreation activity in this area and NOW PROHIBITS ALL ATV USE AT MOON LAKE.
This decision is intended and expected to promote public safety, conform to Forest Service Policy and preserve the Moon Lake experience as it has most widely and historically been enjoyed –as a more serene, less motorized setting on the edge of the Wilderness.
AT THE SAME TIME, and in the same Decision, while prohibiting use at Moon Lake, the Forest Service acknowledges the popularity of ATVs as a recreation activity appropriate to certain specifically dedicated use areas of the forest.
They have expanded riding opportunities in nearby Yellowstone and Hell’s Canyons, just south and east of Moon Lake by approximately 17 – 23 miles.
Previously developed trails are now expanded in an extensive area network of connected ATV trails and roads in Yellowstone and Hell’s Canyons in the hope of better accommodating ATV enthusiasts with less conflict from non-enthusiasts.
Trail and Travel information is available from the US Forest Service Ranger District offices at (435)-738-2482 in Duchesne.
Can you ride horses at Moon Lake?
YES. You may bring your own horses and keep them overnight, as needed, in a
public user corral provided by the US Forest Service at the High Uintas
Trailhead, approximately ¼ mile south of Moon Lake Resort.
Horses are not allowed in the resort or campgrounds and camping is not
allowed at the trailhead.
You may also schedule a trail ride from Flying J Outfitters here on our web site under Rentals and Rides.
Will we see wildlife?
YES. Here’s a list of animals you might expect to see:
Tree squirrels Ground squirrels Chipmunks Mice Skunks Weasels
Porcupines Badgers Foxes Bobcats Mountain Lions Black Bear
Coyotes Deer Elk Moose Owls many Hawk Species Bald & Golden Eagles
LOTS OF HUMMINGBIRDS at the lodge (May-Sept but especially, MID-JULY) Other woodland birds and MORE
This is just a sample of animals we have seen in the area, some commonly, some rarely. Visitors should be aware that wild animals in a wild environment are WILD, sometimes unpredictable and always potentially dangerous, no matter how cute or friendly they seem to be. USE YOUR HEAD AND KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. Take a picture.
Most wild animals are more wary and cautious of humans than humans are of them.
TIPS: Don’t invite them into your camp–they might not want to leave.
Don’t EVER get too close to any mother with young animals.
Don’t feed human food to animals–it could be deadly to them.
Deer in the wild are NOT petting zoo animals! – no matter how friendly they act.
Don’t back animals into a corner. Most animals are far more inclined to
flee than fight, but if fighting is their only option to escape–most animals will fight.
What about bugs?
You are in the woods–OF COURSE, THERE ARE BUGS HERE !
Mosquitoes are not really too troublesome here…BUT…
Moon Lake has a reputation for BUFFALO GNATS (which are actually Black Biting Flies).
For people who are very sensitive to bug bites, these little buggers can cause problems.
Here’s the scoop on BUFFALO GNATS:
- They especially love to bite young children and small dogs.
- On humans, they bite mostly on the back of the neck and ears at the hairline. They also like the top of your socks and other clothing sweat-band lines.
- On dogs, they bite mostly in the less-hairy areas, especially around the stomach and groin.
- They are mostly daytime active.
- They are most active in sunshine after rain.
- They hide in tall grass when it is wet and attack as the sun dries the grass.
- They first hatch out at the start of July and are most vicious over the following six weeks. They can hang around into September.
- They look like a fat fruit fly but are almost invisible in the air
Unlike a mosquito, you don’t feel them biting, but after awhile you might feel an itch and when you scratch the itch, you may break a dry scab and see blood. This is usually what panics people, although it typically looks worse than it is, unless you are bug-bite sensitive.
HOW TO BEAT THE BUGS:
1) Know when and where they’re out and plan accordingly (SEE ABOVE).
At the Resort, we post signs when we see the first bites (usually around the first of July).
2) Bring insect repellant and use it.
- For hearty adults, use sprays and liquids with the highest concentration of DEET
- For the skin-sensitive, chemically intolerant, young children and dogs–DEET is not recommended.
Avon Skin-So-Soft seems to work best in these applications.
Veterinarians can recommend bug repellants that will not make a dog sick like Deet may.
- The key to a repellant’s effectiveness is frequent application. Just as sunscreen does not protect all day long–neither do bug repellants. If you see bugs flying around near you–
YOU NEED TO APPLY MORE.
- The lodge store carries an assortment of the above-mentioned repellants.
3) Bug-bite-sensitive people should bring Antihistamine medication (like Benadryl)
(Serious reactions requiring hospitalization are rare, but possible, in people who are allergic or extremely bug-bite sensitive. If you have any such sensitivity, a doctor should be consulted before visiting here.)
4) Keep moving–put on repellent-enjoy!
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