Friday, June 16, 2017

Best Dam Tour in Utah

Flaming Gorge Dam

Today we drove the 35+ miles over to Flaming Gorge Dam.  The dam was built between 1958 and 1964, and it took twelve years to fill up.  Unlike many other western dams, this dam retains most of their water from year to year…seeing a 10-12 foot drop in off years from fall readings year to year.  This year is a record year.  See that water shooting out in the bottom right of the picture above?  That water is going full bore, has been since March…where as normal years it only shoots out for 4-6 weeks. 

Tour Guide Carrie, Flaming Gorge DamOur tour guide was named Carrie (I hope I am spelling this correctly).  This is her first year giving tours, but she gives them like a pro…knew every answer asked, was very informative, very outgoing, very nice, and is a local from the area having grown up here. Her mother gave tours when Carrie was a child.  When she introduced herself, she welcomed all four of us…yes, we were lucky enough to have only four people on the tour…and Carrie said, “Welcome to the Best Dam Tour in Utah,  Flaming Gorge DamBest Dam Tour in Utah!”  Of course, she added, it is the ONLY dam tour that is offered in the state of Utah…which makes it the best by default.  However, if the other tour guides are anything like her, and the other people we met, they would still be number one in the dam tours in our book. Marcia was able to use her GoGo for the tour, however “WE” did carry her GoGo down six stairs so that she could get outside at the bottom.  And when I say “WE”, Carrie and the guy pictured with Carrie (who is a fulltime RVer with his wife who is not pictured) helped me carry it down, and a dam worker, electrical engineer I think, helped me carry it back up.

Flaming Gorge Reservor and  Flaming Gorge Dam

The dam is just over 500 feet in height, is just under 1,300 feet in length, and has a capacity of 3,788,700 acre feet of water….it is currently at 86% capacity.  Carrie said that it raised nearly 15 feet in the past two weeks due to snow runoff.

Flaming Gorge Dam     Flaming Gorge Dam
Flaming Gorge Dam

They are currently releasing 6,600 cubic feet per second.  The water is shooting out of those release tubes at over 100 mph.  It is so “white” because they aerate the water so that it will spray down into the green river away from the man-made ponds needed to run the electric generators.  Carrie said the water is about 50 feet deep between where I was taking pictures, and where the water is shooting out.  Remember, the water is released like this for only a short period of time through the year…this year is much longer, one would normally not see this in a normal June time period. 

Flaming Gorge Dam    Flaming Gorge Dam

There are three generators that combined produce over 150,000 kilowatt of electricity, enough to supply power for around 100,000 people…that’s homes, offices, restaurants, etc.

Flaming Gorge DamThe dam tour lasts just about an hour.  The time went by so fast that I did not even notice it go by.  It starts in the nice little visitor center, where you sign up for the tour, and there is security to man the metal detector that everyone has to pass through, with a wand to pass over people who cause it to go off.  A security guard walked by us a few times during the tour while we were down in the dam too.  You take an elevator up on level, where Flaming Gorge Damyou can get a view of the dam below...which is where the first picture was taken.  Then you walk to the middle of the dam, and take a quick elevator down to the bottom.  As you reach the stairs, there is a wheelchair lift, but they won’t allow motorized units to use it because the weight makes it break.  Marcia's would have been fine, but we just carried down and then back up the six steps while she walked those steps down and back up later.  At the bottom near where the water was shooting out, lives a large school of fish which get fed by people who wish to put a quarter into a gumball type machine, which releases a handful of food.  The other two people on tour with us dropped some food down, and the fish acted like piranhas…gobbling up the food within seconds.  If you look close in the picture above right, you can make out the fish under the green water.  Although the river is named Green River, the water here is green due to the algae which grows up against the dam.

Cart Creek Bridge    Cart Creek Bridge

Before you get to the dam, you pass over the Cart Creek Bridge, pictured from both the west side (left) and the east side (right). 

Pronghorn at Lucerne Valley Campground

Pronghorn at Lucerne Valley Campground
Back to the motorhome, after being gone for nearly 4 hours, we had two very happy puppy dogs.  It was near 80 degrees, so we turned on the A/C for a few hours.  It is amazing that here in the dry heat that the A/C will run off and on, but very little water runs off the sides of the motorhome from the A/C units…and some that does dries before it hits the ground.  Had a visit from four of our Pronghorn friends…saw about eight different ones today between the entrance to the park to within the park itself.  They run away from any people, and are very weary of the dogs, of bicyclist, and especially automobiles.  Saw a lady a few slots to our north who tossed some sort of food their way…they ran.  I felt like telling her that we are not suppose to feed the wildlife…but why argue with stupid…she knew better and did it anyways.  

We arrived at Flaming Gorge on Wednesday, if you missed it, read about that and see pictures of Red Canyon here.  Friday will be a “stay around the motorhome” day, although I will probably go and get the car cleaned up for our visit with my daughter in Salt Lake on Monday and Tuesday.  Saturday we plan to do the scenic drive, and on Sunday we head for Lake Jordanelle.


  1. Just WOW!! Another one for my must see list.

    1. The RV Park we are at is very large rig friendly...with the back-in sites being wide enough for Motorhome and Car with lots of room to spare, and the pull through long enough for motorhome and car and a boat in some cases. Also, the route through Salt Lake City to here along I-80 is very easy...don't know if you would like the inclines the way we came, but it is doable.


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