Flaming Gorge, Utah
The Green River, Wyoming
Flaming Gorge, Utah was discovered and named in 1869 by Major John Wesley Powell a famous one-armed explorer. He and the nine other men of his party were searching along the Colorado River and Green River, Wyoming when they came upon the gorge.
Bright sunshine shone directly onto the bright red rock of the cliff walls and they seemed to be ablaze with fire.
This is how the gorge got its name.
It sits astride the State border of Utah and Wyoming which is to the north. Most of the gorge lies within the north-eastern part of Utah although the Green River, which created the gorge, stretches northwards into Wyoming where it originates 13,000 feet up in the Wind River Mountains.
In 1958 construction began in the Flaming Gorge to build a dam across the Green River. This dam would be 502 feet high and 1,180 feet across.
When it was completed in 1964 the Flaming Gorge Dam created a reservoir that runs for more than 90 miles back along the Green River, Wyoming. With a catchment area of 15,000 square miles, it is one of the largest reservoirs in the United States.
The cold waters of the reservoir make it a fantastic place to fish
and anglers flock here to catch lake trout. The largest caught in the reservoir, so far, has been a whopping 51lb. 8oz.
The reservoir is now the centrepiece of the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. This area was established by an Act of Congress in 1968 and covers over 207,000 acres of wonderfully scenic land. The Flaming Gorge NRA is part of the Ashley National Forest which includes the nearby Uinta Mountains. They are clearly visible from the gorge. These beautiful mountains, often covered with snow, include Kings Peak which, at 13,528 feet, is the highest point in Utah.
As Flaming Gorge NRA is part of the Ashley National Forest
it comes under the management of the National Forest Service. They charge a fee to enter some specific sites. (In 2010 it was only US $5.00) Travelling on the main routes and visiting the Flaming Gorge Dam are free.
There is a visitor centre at the dam and there are guided, and self-guided, tours available. The view down the Green River from the top of this 502 feet high construction is amazing.
For some miles below the dam the Green River flyfishing is renowned as being world class.
If you are an angler then there are some really fantastic fishing spots near the Flaming Gorge, and in the other States nearby.
For everything you will ever need to know about flyfishing in this area, and in any other part of the U.S.A.,
this great resource has it all.
This part of the river is also excellent for white water rafting that is safe for all the family. The months of May and June are an especially good time to go rafting Utah rivers.
As well as the Green River flyfishing, the Gorge provides opportunities for boating, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, canoeing and kayaking. Every year over two million visitors come to the Flaming Gorge to take part in these activities and enjoy the superb surroundings.
The scenery and wildlife around the area can only be described as incredible. On the more remote, higher ground of the region there are Brown and Cinnamon Bears and the occasional Mountain Lion has been seen. While deer, antelope, moose and elk are fairly common. Golden Eagles and the iconic Bald Eagle are often seen flying overhead
The place to get the best information about the National Recreation Area is at the visitor centre just off Highway 44 which is runs to the south and west of the reservoir.
Here you can find out about campgrounds, scenic drives, fishing guides, boat cruises and hiking trails. As well as being the source for good information the centre has the most incredible views of the gorge.
Close by is a trail that goes along the rim of the gorge where there are many scenic lookouts.
As there is so much to see around the Flaming Gorge NRA the best way to take it all in is on one of the
Utah scenic drives.
Especially popular is the Flaming Gorge - Uinta Mountains Scenic Byway. In 1988 this became the State of Utah`s first National Forest Scenic Byway.
If you take the US highway 191 south from the town of Dutch John heading toward Vernal, Utah you will be rewarded with the most incredible scenery. The Uinta Mountains stand out clearly in the beautiful clean mountain air.
East of Vernal is one of the major attractions of the area. This is the Dinosaur National Monument.
In 1909 a paleontologist for the Carnegie Museum, called Earl Douglass, discovered a rock layer full of plant and animal fossils. So important was this find that in 1915 President Woodrow Wilson designated the area as the Dinosaur National Monument.
So many fossils were found in this one place because during the Jurassic Period it was a sandbar in a powerful river. Many plants and dead animals were caught in the waters of this river and swept down onto this sandbar which, over millions of years, then turned into rock.
Today these fossils can be clearly seen embedded in cliffs and rocks. The area is known as The Quarry and a building has been constructed over the site. (Unfortunately this building is undergoing renovation and won`t be re-opened until the Fall of 2011) There is also a Fossil Discovery Trail which visitors can still enjoy.
Whatever you choose to do, whether taking a scenic drive or fishing on the Green River, Wyoming, I am sure you will find this gorge one of the most enjoyable Gorges to Visit.
Utah is a fascinating state with many incredible places to visit and enjoy. In the south, occupying part of three counties Garfield, Kane and San Juan, is one of the most interesting. Lake Powell, named after the famous explorer who first sighted the Flaming Gorge, is an unbelievably beautiful spot. Vying with Lake Mead as the largest man-made reservoir in the country it has everything and is a must-see destination when travelling around Utah. This site,
is a superb resource it tells you everything you need to know and has stunning photos.
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