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Utah's Flaming Gorge

Vernal UT to Rock Springs, Wyoming

The red gorge is one of the most spectacular chasms in the American West, set in a large national recreation area, with camping, hiking, boating, rafting, and many geological wonders to see. This route moves from Utah to Wyoming, through the south edge of the High Uinta Range. Nearby places include Vernal Utah and Green River and Rock Springs Wyoming.

Although this drive is a short one, it is one of the most impressive drives in the West and stands out in my memory with the great national park experiences.

There are no high mountains on this route and what we see is the core of the Uinta range, instead of the peaks.

What we gain from a day or more spent in the Flaming Gorge area is an understanding of how our earth developed -- the glory of a billion years of nature's work.

Flaming Gorge Drive - map

It's 46 miles from Vernal to the village of Manila, a northward route which takes us past the Red Canyon of the Green River -- the "Flaming Gorge".

Running north from Vernal, on U.S. Highway 191, this drive passes through striking geologic formations including the "Red Fleet" buttes, and then climbs through the Uinta foothills to reach the plateau from which you can gaze down into the stratified gorge which is filled with the rich red color of the rock of the area.

Vernal, at the southern end of the drive, is a city with a full range of visitor services. Dinosaur National Monument is located a few miles east of town, just inside the Colorado border. An early visit to the Ashley National Forest ranger station in the city will aid in your appreciation of what is to follow on the drive.

Highway Log

Vernal UT to Green River WY
112 miles (180 km)
3 hours

Vernal City with motels, gas, restaurants, stores, information center in museum building.
The drive begins at the junction of Highway 40 and Hwy. 191. Take Highway 191 north.
Red Fleet State Park to east with camping, RV parking, swimming, boat ramp on reservoir.
Steinaker State Park Recreation area on reservoir to west
Switchbacks: The road ascends with a series of ten switchbacks. There are several viewpoints along the ascent with good views of the Red Fleet buttes, the reservoir and the High Uintas (to the west).
Sheep Trailhead Access road to the east to top of climb.
Little Brush Creek Road At milepost 223. Wildlife viewing.
Road to Diamond Mtn. Crosses hills to the east (at milepost 225). Summit (8,428 ft)
Burn Area A fire destroyed the roadside stand of trees in 1988. Marker beside the highway.
Road 253 Historic site to east.
Lodgepole Campground To east (at MP 231), and Red Springs Campground (to west)
Junction–Highway 44 Take Hwy. 44 for Red Canyon & rest of scenic drive. Take Hwy. 191 to Flaming Gorge Dam, campgrounds & alternate route to Rock Springs.
Picnic Area & Overlook
Skull Creek Campground (milepost 3 on Highway 44).
Junction–Red Canyon Rd. To Green's Lake Campground & trailhead (200 yards from hwy.), Red Canyon Lodge, Visitor Center, canyon overlook and Red Canyon Campground.
Hiking Trail (to north)
Burnt Creek Road To South at milepost 10.
Deep Creek Campground & trail.
Picnic areas (left and right) Dowd Mountain,hilltop site, and Dowd Spring, roadside site.
Junction Road 221 Leads west to Deep Creek (camping), and on to Spirit Lake, Brownie Lake & Sheep Creek Lake (6 miles). The highway descends past the Palisades formation.

Sidetrip: Sheep Creek Canyon Geological Area
Turn on to loop road for viewing of unual geological formations. The Palisades Picnic Area is located along this road. Viewpoints include Big Spring Creek with a cascade to Sheep Creek near the Madison Formation sign. There are hundreds of erosion pillars along the road including Tower Rock, a large hoodoo at the top of the canyon's ridge.
Dowd's Grave Homesteader (1885 to 1897) killed by partner in self defense.
Carmel Picnic Area To north.
Navaho Cliffs Picnic Area
North entrance to Sheep Creek Geological Loop

Back on Highway 44:
Bighorn Sheep Range Sheep are often seen at milepost 23.
Manila Village with gas, cafe, store and Ashley National Forest ranger station. 63 miles from Vernal. Take Highway 530 to Green River.
Wyoming/Utah Border
Viewpoint Wildlife views.
Lucerne Recreation Complex & Lucerne Valley Marina Road to east for tent & RV camping, gas, store, picnic areas.
Anvil Draw Road To east at MP 39. Boat ramp, toilets.
Squaw Hollow Road (#4) to the east. Picnic tables, toilets.
South Buckboard Road Buckboard Road Recreation site on Flaming Gorge Lake—east with camping, RV parking, picnic area, boat ramp, gas.
Flaming Gorge Recreation Area North Entrance
Black Fork River Bridge
Information Center: Ashley National Forest, Flaming Gorge, and the Ashley National Forest.
Green River (WY) via Hwy 530 (elevation 6,100 feet) Gas, motels, cafes, stores.
Junction–Interstate 80 To north of downtown area.

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