Thursday, June 15, 2017

Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area

Flaming Gorge at Red Canyon Visitor's Center

Many times while traveling along I-80 I had seen signs about Flaming Gorge, and I always wanted to see it.  Well, last week with our change of plans in heading to California early due to my aunts death, I awoke in the middle of the night and said to myself, “Why go further east into Colorado?   Why not visit Flaming Gorge, then head west to I-80 near Fort Bridger, and on down to Lake Jordanelle.  So the next morning, after going back to sleep and having a good night’s sleep on it all, I showed Marcia my plan, and so we decided that after Black Canyon, go up to Flaming Gorge and spend most the weekend, heading down to Jordanelle on Sunday.  Above is the view of the Green River from the Red Canyon Visitor’s Center area.

US 191 between Vernal and Flaming Gorge     US 191 between Vernal and Flaming Gorge
First, we caught US 191 from Vernal up to the Gorge area.  US 191 heads to the east side of the Gorge at this point, but we were headed to the west.  US 191 is the same highway that goes through Moab and Monticello, and near Goosenecks, places we have been before on this trip, or on others.  Very quickly we start to see more rock cliffs and the road, though a bit bumpy, is lightly traveled and very scenic.

US 191 between Vernal and Flaming Gorge

We start up the Uinta Mountains, an east-west trending chain of mountains in northeastern Utah extending slightly into southern Wyoming, the highest range in the contiguous United States running east to west (west 100 miles to Salt Lake City).   The highway nears the 10,000 feet elevation mark in two places in Utah…near Price, and between Vernal and the Gorge.  GULP…  But first we pull over at nice turnout and get a panoramic looking south.

US 191 between Vernal and Flaming Gorge

Red Canyon of Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area is only 35 miles or so from Steinaker Lake State Park, but with climbing 3,000 plus feet going over the Uinta Mountains, it takes us over an hour.  Here is our first view of the Gorge area…you can faintly see some blue water in the middle of the picture.

Flaming Gorge at Red Canyon Visitor's Center
Flaming Gorge at Red Canyon Visitor's Center    Flaming Gorge at Red Canyon Visitor's Center

There is a nice little Visitor’s Center at Red Canyon, along with a couple of National Forest camping areas…no nothing in the camping areas except pit toilets.  The exhibits are nice, we watched one of the many short movies they have available, and of course, the view out the windows of the Green River flowing slowly, due to the dam, through the Gorge.  Seems like you can see for a hundred miles!  (We will be visiting the dam another day, so I won’t go into that right now.)

Flaming Gorge at Red Canyon Visitor's Center

Outside there is a pathway that Marcia and easily navigate the GoGo on.  There are numerous viewpoints, most of which she can “see somethings”, but a few have rocky areas and that view just is not available to her.  After getting the first picture in this post way above, I see a boat out in the water and get this picture.  Look at the reflection in the water of the red cliffs…

Marcia at Flaming Gorge at Red Canyon Visitor's Center
To the left you can see Marcia scooting along the pathway.  There are various information plaques along the route telling you the Marcia at Flaming Gorge at Red Canyon Visitor's Centernames of trees, information about animals, and other good stuff like that.  But the best thing is the overlooks…the wonderful views of the Gorge.  I was just elated that Marcia was able to enjoy the views at the Red Canyon area.  The temperature was right at 70 degrees, the dogs stayed in the motorhome, so we did not have to worry about them.  And there were just a few people around…no crowds…little noise except for birds and little ground squirrels or chipmunks…and having to dodge a few butterflies as you walked through certain areas.

 Flaming Gorge at Red Canyon Visitor's Center
 Flaming Gorge at Red Canyon Visitor's Center      Flaming Gorge at Red Canyon Visitor's Center

The River/Gorge takes many turns, and along the walk it goes around this point (top picture), and you can see the view to the north (above left) and to the south (above right). 

 Flaming Gorge at Red Canyon Visitor's Center

We really enjoyed our 90 minute visit to Red Canyon…but it was time to move on and try and get a camping spot for four days.  Our goal was along the Utah/Wyoming boarder in a place near Manila Utah…a large National Forest Campground called Lucerne Valley Campground.  There were many views along the way…those we will show in future posts as we go back to visit the dam, take the Sheep Creek Canyon Geological Scenic Loop, and just enjoy the area.

Lucerne Campground, Flaming Gorge
Thank goodness we landed a camping place through Saturday…four nights, electricity, $78 with senior pass.  Now we could have stayed at other NF campgrounds, but without electricity, much cheaper.  Lucerne Campground, Flaming Gorge -- Rig looking like oursBut with temps falling into the lower 40’s for the next few nights, having electricity means we can use our electric heater that makes no noise.  Besides, we found our near twin just one loop to our west!  I recognized the lady coming out of the other Isata, this one with a door towards the rear, as one of two ladies who walked by our motorhome earlier in the day staring and pointing.  Now I can see why they were gawking.  But they were not the only ones walking around the campground today….

Pronghorn, Lucerne Campground, Flaming Gorge

These two male Pronghorns were the first ones to come by today…opened the door to take the dogs out, and there they were. 

Pronghorn, Lucerne Campground, Flaming Gorge     Pronghorn, Lucerne Campground, Flaming Gorge

I had read that Pronghorns wander around the park at ease.  Later we saw a female walk by, and even later I got a picture of two more…but they might have still been these two.  It was near sunset, and they were down in a few loops away.

Sunset, Lucerne Campground, Flaming Gorge

Oh, it is going to be a nice four nights here along the Green River….tomorrow (Thursday) be dam.


  1. Flaming gorge is pretty fantastic
    I think I have the same picture as your first one.

    1. Yep, that is a classic Flaming Gorge shot. We are enjoying out time here, temps have been in the low 80's for the most part, low 50's at night. Park is filling today (Friday) though....


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