Deep channels carved into rugged landscapes contain stained-glass waters that capture the play of light, shadow and color of the rising sun. Varying water temperatures through the seasons create unique scenarios for anglers after trophy lake trout and a number of other fish species. Flaming Gorge might be the West's most spectacular reservoir. It certainly is one of the best fisheries around, with Blue Ribbon-designated angling on both the reservoir and the Green River for several miles beyond the dam. And then there's the way the sun catches the red canyon walls, the revitalizing aura of the encompassing Ashley National Forest and High Uintas Wilderness, the prolific wildlife and the quaint, hospitable communities.
Flaming Gorge National Recreation area is an all-encompassing outdoor recreation destination. With more than 200,000 acres of land and water, Flaming Gorge is a scenic playground for boating, waterskiing, windsurfing, camping and backpacking in addition to some of the best fishing in the west.
To extend your stay in Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, look for Flaming Gorge lodging in gateway towns of Manila and Dutch John. Comfortable rooms, cabins, and campgrounds encircle the area, ranging from handcrafted cabins with onsite recreation near the lake or rustic destinations on Forest Service roads in the nearby Uinta Mountains. Red Canyon Lodge, for example, features luxury log cabin lodging, fine dining, a private lake, horseback riding and more, providing a complete resort experience with those 200,000 acres of recreation standing by. There are also developed campgrounds and dispersed camping on the Ashley National Forest. To combine with Dinosaur National Monument, consider accommodations an hour south of Flaming Gorge in Vernal, Utah.
Flaming Gorge Weather and When to Visit
The surface elevation of Flaming Gorge is over 6,000 feet, so while you will get a taste of Utah's semi-arid climate, summertime temperatures often peak in the high 80s F with night temperatures dropping by 30 degrees. Flaming Gorge is a great destination to cool off in the summer but is an excellent year-round escape by itself or as part of an excursion to Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. November through late March sees daytime temperatures drop well below 49 F and nights will drop below freezing. Of course, when it gets cold in Flaming Gorge, snowmobilers and ice fishers come out to play.
From Salt Lake City, the scenic route along U.S. 40 through the Heber Valley, Duchesne, Roosevelt and Vernal allows an approach from the south via the Flaming Gorge-Uintas National Scenic Byway. It's about 4.5 hours and passes very near Dinosaur National Monument. From Vernal, the scenic byway follows 82 miles of wildlife viewing opportunities along U.S. 191 and S.R. 44, crossing habitats of deer, elk, moose, eagles and many other bird and animal species. The byway features 17 interpretive pullouts and also accesses panoramic views of the reservoir from the Flaming Gorge Dam. U.S. 40 continues into Colorado, which along with I-80 to the north provides easy access to Flaming Gorge from the east.
Red Canyon Overlook
Beautiful any time of day, many visitors opt to get up early for sunrise to watch the gorge live up to its name as the canyon walls catch the fire of the intense morning light.
Flaming Gorge Dam
A year-round visitor center and summer guided tours unlock the history of the dam and accesses a stunning walk.
From Utes and Shoshone to fur trappers and outlaws like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the area has long provided a sheltered retreat, and today is an excellent spot for fly-fishing.
Blue Ribbon-Designated Fishing
On Flaming Gorge, get ready to haul trophy fish aboard, from multiple trout species to bass, carp and Burbot. Below Flaming Gorge dam, the Green River is renowned for its trout fishing and excellent rafting. The brown trout on the Green average 15–17 inches in length but a record brown weighed it at 29 pounds in 1996.
Dinosaur National Monument
Dinosaur National Monument and the Utah Field House of Natural History in Vernal combine for one of the west's best dips deep into the region's prehistory.
John Wesley Powell named Flaming Gorge in 1846, after he and his men saw the sun reflecting off the canyon's red rock walls during their historic float trip down the Green River. Rock art and artifacts suggest members of the ancient Fremont Culture and later, Comanche, Shoshone and Ute tribes hunted game in the Gorge.
Flaming Gorge NRA
Manila, Utah 84046