June 5, 2012

Flaming Gorge

We took the day off yesterday and hung out at our campground overlooking Flaming Gorge Reservoir.  It was very hot, with the temperature reaching 93°, and there was very little shade to shield us from the scorching sun.  We learned that several cities in eastern Utah actually broke temperature records yesterday.  We still had a good day and enjoyed watching the pronghorn that frequent the campground.  Our camp host informed us that it is the pronghorn that own the campground.  They graciously allow us to camp there.  How nice of them.

Just Make Yourself at Home
Are You Coming to See Me?
Kitty didn’t seem to mind the heat, and Tim discovered a great brushing station.  The new grill stand seems to have been placed at the campsite just for that purpose.  Tim got a few strange looks, but several dog owners wanted to book an appointment with him.

This Is the Life!
We awoke this morning to another hot day.  On top of that high wind warnings were posted throughout eastern Utah.  We coped with winds of 25-40 miles per hour and wind gusts of 55-65 miles per hour for most of the day.  We tried, but could not escape the wind or the heat.

Although we didn’t feel like spending much time outside, we were lucky enough to be driving the Flaming Gorge-Uintas National Scenic Byway the entire day.  What a spectacular drive.  The theme of the byway is “Wildlife Through the Ages” since the route travels through one of the richest areas for wildlife and fossils in the west.  Markers along the entire length of the byway identify the various geologic formations, the time periods and the types of animals and plants that were discovered.

Geological Markers Along the Byway
Color Along the Scenic Byway
As we left the desert-like area near our campground, we climbed high into the eastern flank of the Uinta Mountains at over 8,000 feet in elevation.  Along the way we marveled at unique geologic features, deep multi-colored canyons, breathtaking scenic vistas and dark green forest landscapes.  Talk about “eye candy.”  I think this drive may make my “top ten” list.

Sheep Creek Bay Sits along the Scenic Byway
The Colors of the Cliffs Are Amazing
The Vista from Sheep Creek Overlook Took My Breath Away
Much of the drive passes through Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, and we now understand how this gorge received its name.  Flaming Gorge has to be one of the most aptly named landscapes in the country.  The colors of the cliffs and canyons are indeed “flaming.” 

Flaming Gorge seems to be one of the lesser known of all the west’s national recreation areas.  Today we had the area almost to ourselves, and we understand that it never gets too busy, even in the height of the summer.

We made a detour to reach one of the most photogenic sections of the gorge, Red Canyon, which was carved by the mighty Green River.  We walked along the Red Canyon Rim Trail and looked down 1,400 feet into Flaming Gorge Reservoir.  The contrast between the red of the cliffs, the blue of the water and the green of the trees was simply breathtaking.

The View into Red Canyon Is Stunning
The Red Canyon Rim Trail Provides Awesome Views
After leaving Flaming Gorge we traveled down through countless geologic layers of time on our way to the Uintah Basin of Utah.  This section of the road is infamous for its steep descent and series of nine tortuous switchbacks.  Although the views were spectacular, the wind made for extremely dangerous driving for high profile vehicles.  We were shocked to see a tractor trailer that had rolled over along one of the curves.  Hopefully the driver escaped with few injuries. 

What a Scary Sight!
Descending into the Uintah Basin
Tim on the other hand did a masterful job of controlling the RV, and we arrived safely at Steinaker Lake State Park near Vernal, Utah.

Along the Water at Steinaker State Park
Another Waterfront Site


  1. What a beautiful drive. I looked at and enjoyed the pictures 3 times! It surely is a hidden gem. LV

    1. LV, I'm so glad you enjoyed the photos. Finding places like this was one of the best parts of the trip. Sarah

  2. Kitty has such a hard life. Flaming gorge is one of Chucks and my favorite places to fish. You could get lost in all of the turns and coves.

    1. Kitty does have a hard life! Being down on the water in Flaming Gorge must provide a totally different perspective on this spectacular place. I bet the fishing is great, too. Sarah

  3. Looks like you are getting pretty close to home! Can't wait to read of your adventures for the last few days. LV

    1. LV, Yes, we are close! I hope you'll enjoy the remaining adventures. Sarah