Flaming Gorge defies its name with cool, watery activities
The Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area in southwest Wyoming and northeast Utah is an ideal summer destination for those looking for cool weather, breathtaking scenery, or plenty of water sports. It’s about a nine-hour drive from Las Vegas, but rewards the effort with remarkable opportunities for fishing, boating, rafting, hiking, camping, or just cruising the scenic roads.
The high daytime temperatures in summer rarely exceed the upper 80s in the park’s lower elevations, like the reservoir itself, at around 6,000 feet. At 7,400 feet, it’s even cooler at the higher elevations, like Red Canyon Campground.
The Flaming Gorge Reservoir, when full, is 91 miles long and covers 42,000 acres. It was created after the completion of the Flaming Gorge Dam in 1964, which dammed the Green River and created more than 350 miles of coastline.
In 1869 the explorer John Wesley Powell set out along the Green River. When traveling through this area, he named it Flaming Gorge because of the bright colors of the red rock that surrounded him on his journey. You can see these beautiful geological wonders for yourself by boat or on one of the scenic side and return paths. You can even circumnavigate the entire reservoir along the Flaming Gorge Byway. This loop takes you about 200 miles through the high desert plains of Wyoming into the highlands and lush forests of the Uinta Mountains, offering breathtaking lake views from various heights.
It’s hard to exaggerate the area’s reputation among fishermen. For anglers who prefer to fish from the boat, the reservoir is the place, and there are three full-service marinas. The most popular game fish in the lake are mackinaw trout, kokanee salmon, and perch. Trout weighing 30 pounds are caught every year.
Fly fishing is unparalleled on the Green River below the dam and seven miles down to Little Hole. You will see many fishermen on the bank or in the water, most of them wear waders, as the water under the dam is often around 55 degrees. Most in this section are looking for rainbow and brown trout. Success is likely; It is said that some sections of the green below the dam have up to 15,000 fish per mile.
You can just go to Little Hole and see the very beautiful river. But rafting in the seven-mile segment is extremely popular; the trip is rated as Class I or II, a mild whitewater adventure. It can be done as a guided tour or on your own. No permit is required to raft on this section, and there are companies that rent rafts and inflatable kayaks in the nearby town of Dutch John, Utah. For those looking for a more secluded and exciting whitewater excursion on the green, there are extended tours that start south of Little Hole and last for one to multi-day tours. The Green River flows into the state of Colorado and then back through Utah, where it joins the Colorado River, which joins Lake Powell.
There are dozen of campsites in the area, more than 600 campsites in total. There is also a variety of accommodation options, ranging from basic accommodations to full-service resorts with boat rentals, restaurants, and general stores. For more information on accommodation, outfitters and marinas, as well as the lake’s easy-to-meet fishing license requirements, visit www.flaminggorgecountry.com, the Flaming Gorge Chamber website, 95 North Street, Manila, UT, (435) 784-3154. Https://utah.com/flaming-gorge is also useful.
There are several ways to get to the park from south to north depending on your travel plans.