Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Flaming Gorge Recreation Area

July 9 - 11, 2015:

After stopping at the visitor’s center to buy a Dinosaur tee shirt, I’m on the road with a close call.  A tractor trailer pulling out of a farm lane onto the road somehow managed to get his tractor hung up due to the extreme angles of the roadway and was stuck blocking the entire road.  Luckily there was just enough room to get around him on the shoulder, otherwise I would have been stuck there for a long long time.  Travel is always an adventure !  By the way, I just realized this marks our three year anniversary of full time RV’ing.

It was then easy going on route 40 to Vernal, Utah and then onto route 191 North and into the Uinta Mountains.  That’s when the long steep grades started with switchbacks and hairpin curves.  There are many huge mining operations going on along the route, I stopped at an overlook above a Simplot Phosphates mine.  We then came into the Flaming Gorge Recreation area and the Cedar Springs campground where we hoped to find an open campsite.  Luck was smiling on us as there remained a very nice open site.  This is a dry camping spot administered by the US Department of Agriculture for $12 a night with our senior National Park Pass.

Vernal has a Dinosaur welcome

Flaming Gorge is a huge recreation area that encompasses over 20 campgrounds along it’s 90 some mile length along both sides of the Green River and reservoir.  Cedar Springs campground is located in the hills overlooking the Cedar Springs Marina and is about 2 miles from the Flaming Gorge Dam.  This Dam was completed in 1964 and stands at 502 feet tall.  It impounds the waters of the Green River to form Flaming Gorge Reservoir that extends as far as 91 miles north with 350 miles of shoreline.

View from behind the dam, this gives some idea how
much of the gorge is filled

Dam overlook

Another overlook view

Great scenic bridge, the sign refers to cliffs on the left that are high
above the water and appeal to the jumping crowd

The reservoir appears to at maximum level currently

The Reservoir is beautiful and the water is put to good use, but what a fantastic gorge this must have been before the Dam buried it.  John Wesley Powell on seeing the red towering walls highlighted in the sun named it “Flaming Gorge” during his rafting expedition down the Green River in 1869.  The views along the rim are spectacular, especially at the Red Canyon visitors center and along the Red Canyon Rim Trail.

Absolutely stunning !

We also hiked about 6 miles on the Little Hole scenic trail which as the name implies follows the Green River from it’s outlet at the Flaming Gorge Dam to a downriver take out spot called Little Hole.  It is a beautiful trail, the canyon is huge with vertical walls right next to the water in places and the water is really clear and green colored as the name implies.  There were many fisherman in the river and then latter the raft crowd came out in force chasing the fish away with their noise.  The river is fast flowing in places and there are several moderate rapids, for the excitement of the rafters.  The area around Little Hole was the scene of a huge forest fire in 2002, the Mustang Ridge fire which killed all the trees and it is mainly grassland now.

View from the top of the trail

We're now part way down, looking down on fishermen. Note
how clear the water is, can see river bottom

Beautiful butterfly and thistles along the trail

On the river

Rainbow Trout was hiding from the fishermen, we didn't tell them

Fast water

Then a smooth flow

Then more excitement

The river with the Little Hole take out spot.  You can float a
long ways downstream and there are camping sites along
the way.

Another great scenic area is the Red Canyon Recreation area with it’s Rim Trail.  The view from the windows of the visitors center are almost breathtaking.  We then hiked about 6 miles along the forested edge of the canyon rim.

This is the spectacular view from the visitors center

View from the trail

Another trail view

After a hard day on the trail we relax at the Snag Bar and Grill on the marina near the campground.

Best Cantina by a Dam site

Next stop is Green River, Wyoming;

Twinkles and Slick

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