From the Vernal area, head north on Highway 191, also known as the Flaming Gorge–Uintas National Scenic Byway. The road is remarkably well marked with geological info signs nearly every 100 yards — and much easier to read from a bicycle. After nine miles take the turnoff for Red Fleet State Park — there’s some shoulder most of the way, though cyclists should be ready to ride in traffic on this popular route. Make camp at Red Fleet, either in your own tent or in one of the park’s teepees. A 1.5-mile hike takes visitors past dinosaur tracks, best viewed in the late afternoon — or, if you prefer to rest your legs, rent a canoe, kayak, or SUP by the hour to explore the Red Fleet Reservoir.
Day 2: The Climb and Descent to Flaming Gorge
In the morning, ride the two miles back out to Highway 191, and head north toward Red Canyon. This section contains the steepest and most prolonged climbs on the route — you’ll gain nearly 2,600 feet over 10 miles right out of the gate, some of it at grades as steep as 9 percent. At around mile 17 on U.S. 191, the sagebrush flats turn to pinyon and juniper. A few miles farther and this has become an alpine drive, with aspen the predominant roadside tree. The Uintah/Daggett county line is the high point of this drive at 8,428 feet. From there, you'll enjoy mostly cruiser downhill. You'll enter the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area after a total of 33 miles north of Vernal, or about 24 miles from Red Fleet. It's then 1.5 miles to the junction where ultimately you'll head west along S.R. 44 and the continuation of the scenic byway.
For a scenic detour, veer right, staying on 191. There's an interesting stop at Firefighters Memorial Campground, which was dedicated to three firefighters killed in the 1977 Cart Creek Fire. Stretch your legs with an easy three-mile hike on the Bear Canyon Trail, which leads to stunning views of Flaming Gorge, or continue a few miles to the dam and visitor center or further to Dutch John (population 145) if you want to stock up on fishing supplies. From the junction, it's about 6 miles to the dam or 8.5 miles to Dutch John.