Cascade Springs Only by snowmobile can you escape to this dramatic oasis during the winter. Welcome to Utah!

The Proper Function

A Dramatic Oasis

Cascade Springs is a dramatic oasis located within the Uinta National Forest. The lush vegetation, swirling pools and cascading waterfalls is home to a variety of animals including moose, deer, beavers, hawks and bear. The area is a product of glacial sediment that existed within the higher elevations of the Wasatch Range approximately 100,000 years ago. Today, more than 7 million gallons of water flows through this area each day. Given the warm temperature of the water, this oasis continues to have green life flourishing within the water while the surrounding snow covered environment appears to be in hibernation. Flush green grass, flowers and green algae it feels like an earthly oasis upon the moon. As the water surfaces and cascades over the rock, it releases carbon dioxide which allows calcium carbonate to be precipitated from the travertine. Thus, you have an ever-changing and evolving structure.




Watch For Avalanches

We decided to visit this Oasis in the height of the winter with a current snow accumulation of 42 inches. With the roads all closed, we boarded snowmobiles off the back side of Snowbird Ski resort and started down through Mineral Basin. In general, most of the terrain is listed as low level in terms of avalanche danger. However, while traveling within upper elevations the wind zone pockets create Moderate to Considerable avalanche dangers. The week prior to our trip, there was a human triggered avalanche at 9,500 ft that did break the underlying weaker areas and reached the bottom slope near Silver Bell Mine. With that, we armed ourselves with avalanche gear, beacons and way-pointed a course around The Danger Rose.


The Danger Rose is way to help you understand general avalanche patterns by way of slope faces and elevation. Imagine looking down a mountain from above the center of this diagram with the outside edges being the lowest in elevation. The Utah Avalanche Center provides a picture of this 3D rose to help visualize this concept. The shape is to demonstrate the many ridges, gullies, shoots and bowls that exist within the mountain. For example, even on the south face of the mountain, the ridges may face east or west while the bowls actually face north. Aspect is aspect no matter where you find it. For more information, call 1-888-999-4016 or visit



As we traveled by snowmobile past Mineral Basin and dropped into the American Fork Canyon, we came across the old Silver Bell Mine. From 1870 to 1976, the American Fork area produced approximately 2.45 million pounds of copper, 36.4 million pounds of lead, 5.54 million pounds of zinc, 45,000 ounces of gold, and 2.39 million ounces of silver (Perry and Mc-Carthy, 1977). In this area you can also visit the Miller Mine, Pacific Mine, Whirlwind Mine, Yankee Mine and Pittsburg Mine. All of these mines are currently inactive. In 2000, Unico, Inc. reopened the Silver Bell mine and began a restoration project. In 2003, exploration work continued but due to safety concerns the project ceased and the mine tailings were cleaned up later that year.



As you continue down the American Fork Canyon, you will want to travel into the Baker Fork Canyon which is adjacent to Miller Hill Tunnel. If you reach Dutchman Flat, you’ve gone too far. Continue past Pole Line Pass and Deer Creek campground until you reach Cascade Springs. Because the area is covered in snow, the information signs about this area have all been removed. The trail system and raised boardwalks that provide a scenic route of the springs is covered in snow littered with various types of scat. Given the water source, this is a very popular place of wildlife so keep your eye peeled, especially for moose.



Function Details

This area is closed in the winter and can only be reached by snowmobile as described above. In season, From I-15 in Utah Valley, take the Highland/Alpine exit (Exit 284). Travel east for about 8 miles on State Route 92 to the Forest Service entrance station ($6.00 fee). Continue up American Fork Canyon on SR-92 (Alpine Loop Scenic Byway) for about 17 miles until you reach Cascade Scenic Drive. Turn to the northeast (left) and travel about 61/2 miles to the Cascade Springs lower parking lot.



This Proper Function
(Approximate Data)
Party Cloudy
2,315ftElevation 13.7hrsDistance From You
LocationSalt Lake City
State, RegionUtah,North
Coordinates40.459739°, -111.550671°
DirectionsView on Google Maps
Time4 Hours


Dan is an explorer for The Outbound and founder of The Proper Function, an outdoor editorial. He is passionate about exploration and can’t stay put for more than a week.