Hikers, mountain bikers, cross-country skiers, and campers should consider Red Canyon Rim a place to pursue their endeavors. There are several trails in the vicinity, including the Canyon Rim Trail—a 6.5-mile route skirting Red Canyon offering expansive views. Two trailheads provide access to the trail: One is at Red Canyon Lodge; the other is at Greendale Rest Area, located on Highway 44 just east of the Highway 191 junction. If you’re just traveling through, then be sure to at least check out the overlook at the Red Canyon Visitor Center, located at the end of the paved, 4.5-mile Red Canyon Road. The overlook sits on a precipice high above the dammed waters of Flaming Gorge Lake, snaking through the 1,400- foot-deep Red Canyon. The visitor center has exhibits dealing with the ecology of the area and the Indian and Anglo cultures that once lived here.
Other hikes in the area to check out are the Ute Mountain Fire Lookout Tower (4 miles round trip) and Tepee Lakes (10 miles round trip).
The best chance to see wildlife is earlier in the morning and later in the evening. With so much forest and wilderness nearby, it is especially important to drive carefully at night, dusk and dawn.
Flaming Gorge is known as one of the premiere trophy lake trout waters in the country. Fish over 50 pounds have been caught! Other species include smallmouth bass, kokanee salmon, and rainbow trout, and like the lake trout they sometimes come in lunker proportions. The lake can be fished successfully from a boat or from shore, and there are numerous campgrounds, marinas, and access points for anglers to take advantage of. For more information on fishing in Flaming Gorge, including specific information about how and where to fish, see our Fishing Guide.
If incredible feats of engineering are your thing, you won’t want to miss the Flaming Gorge Dam. Completed in 1962, the dam rises 502 feet high and is 1,285 feet long. During the summer season the dam is open for self-guided and guided tours. You can get more information at the visitor center on the west end of the dam.
Below the Flaming Gorge Dam, the Green River is known for world-class fly fishing. Anglers (and hikers) can walk the Little Hole National Recreation Trail, which extends from the main parking area below the dam to the Little Hole access. The trail is 7 miles long and follows the north bank of the river presenting many excellent fishing spots along the way. Beware of the river level rising unexpectedly due to dam release; wear a life jacket when wade-fishing here.
In addition to fishing and hiking, floating is a popular activity below the dam. Rafts, canoes, and kayaks ply the waters between the dam and Gates of Lodore, but you should have some river experience before tackling the river. Rentals and guided trips are available from the Flaming Gorge Resort and Flaming Gorge Recreation Services.
Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area is about 41 miles north of Vernal, which is known as one of the “dinosaur capitals” of the world. You can spend several days looking about and never see it all. Head north on Vernal Avenue (US 191), and just beyond the outskirts of town you will see on the right a small information board for Drive Through the Ages Geological Tour. Stop to read the short route description and pick up the brochure about the signed geological attractions that line the route; signs along the road indicate when you pass from one formation to another. At Red Fleet State Park you can take a fun 2.5-mile hike to dinosaur tracks on the lake’s sandstone shore—and you can jump in the lake to cool off.
While on the Drive Through the Ages Geological Tour, consider a side trip through the Sheep Creek Canyon Geological Area, a 15-mile tour past towering canyon walls, representing a billion years’ worth of variegated rock strata. The drive eventually takes you out of the canyon and into the high country of the Uinta Mountains, where an excellent perspective of Sheep Creek Canyon comes into view. The gothic spires and towers in the canyon promise to keep you enthralled, as does the alpine scenery high above the canyon.
See our Scenic Driving Guide for more information on these drives and other scenic byways in the area.