5-day route in Winds in late July?


Mar 1, 2015
tl;dr Any suggestions on 5-day routes in the Winds that have will have minimal bugs and snow-free passes in late July, and a consistent variety of scenery?

I have a rare opportunity to do a 5-day solo backpacking trip; therefore, I plan on heading to the Winds. This trip will be in late July, and yes, I realize that is probably peak mosquito season and that they will completely destroy me and forever ruin my love for the outdoors, but that's my only chance this year so that's when I'm going.

My only previous trip to the Winds was in the Elkhart/Titcomb area. I was thinking this time I'll probably try a different area. The Cirque of Towers would be nice to see, but a number of other places have also caught my eye (from browsing the Pallister book) such as Bonneville Basin, East Fork/Desolation Valley, Baptiste Lake, Deep Lake, Lizard Head Plateau, New Fork Plateau. I don't need total solitude, although I want to be able to easily find campsites. I'd really love to do some relatively easy off-trail travel but nothing exceeding Class 2+ or so. I tend to care more about consistent and varied scenery than I do about the best scenery. For example, I actually preferred Indian Basin over Titcomb Basin because it had more variety in the views; even though Titcomb is slightly more spectacular, I felt like the views walking down Titcomb basin were basically the same most of the way in, whereas the trail in Indian Basin would wind around and have more varied scenery.

Anyway, here are my questions:

1. Snow conditions: Will most of the passes be pretty much snow-free by late July this year? I haven't planned a specific route yet, but some of the passes I am considering include Texas Pass, Illinois Pass, Jackass Pass, Raid/Bonneville Col ("Pain-in-the-Ass Pass"), Middle Fork Pass, Hailey Pass, and Macon Lake Pass (obviously not all of these). If any of these will likely still be difficult due to lingering snow, please let me know. I won't have an ice axe or crampons, and would much prefer to leave the microspikes at home if possible.

2. Bugs: Any tips on how to avoid them? Any suggestions on routes and campsites that will have fewer bugs? Campsites up higher away from water would be great, especially if they have a little breeze to help with the mosquitoes, but I also would prefer to not be totally exposed to the full wind. I will plan on wearing long sleeves/pants (soaked in permethrin) and will bring a headnet; any other tips to mitigate the mosquitoes would also be greatly appreciated.

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