Flaming Gorge offers numerous outdoor activities
The Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area isn’t one of the best-known outdoor destinations, but maybe it should be. If you’re planning a trip north to Wyoming’s Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Park, you should definitely consider a trip to Flaming Gorge. Located in a remote area of northeast Utah and southwest Wyoming, this is a nature lover’s paradise. The most popular activities are fishing, boating, rafting, hiking, and camping.
When Major John Wesley Powell and his men traveled down the Green River in 1869 and began exploring the Green and Colorado Rivers, he named it Flaming Gorge because of the bright colors of the red rocks.
Thanks to the altitude, the summer temperatures are very pleasant here. The reservoir, for example, is approximately 6,000 feet above sea level, while the Red Canyon Campground area is at 7,400 meters. You can expect daily highs in the 80s in the lower elevations and much cooler in the surrounding mountains.
The main reason to visit is the 42,000 acre Flaming Gorge Reservoir. This lake was created after the completion of the Flaming Gorge Dam in 1964, which dammed the Green River upstream and created a 360 mile long coastline.
So much coastline offers virtually limitless boating, fishing, and sightseeing opportunities. There are numerous marinas throughout the reservoir offering many options for launching your boat.
If you are a fisherman you will not be disappointed; It’s not far to say that fishing is world class. All major fish species are popular here: lake trout (mackinaw), brown trout, rainbow trout, Kokanee salmon, black bass and channel catfish.
Below the dam, the Green River continues for hundreds of miles until it reaches the Colorado River, which then flows into Lake Powell. The section just below the Flaming Gorge Dam is popular for rafting and kayaking. Most visitors start a rented boat from one of the local outfitters or resorts, drive to Little Hole, and take the boat out. That’s a drive of about 7 miles and has a few easy to moderate sections of rapids classified as Class I and II, depending on the water discharge from the dam. With local outfitters, rafting tours can also be expanded to include adventurous trips lasting several days downstream.
This section of the river is also one of the best trout fishing areas in the west, and you will find fly fishermen queuing along the banks or in the water looking for rainbow trout. If you fish here, be prepared for cold water; the flow from the dam is measured at 55 degrees or colder.
If you stay here for a night or more, there are plenty of options for camping and staying overnight. There are 43 campsites with more than 700 campsites throughout the park. Scatter camping is allowed on forest areas and is practically unlimited. Many other campsites can be reached from the water. Additionally, there is an unusual number of accommodations, ranging from simple rooms with beds to full-service resorts. Most of the accommodation and services are in Dutch John, Utah, around the dam.
For guided fishing, rafting, or scenic excursions, contact the US Forest Service at 435-784-3445 for information on current permit holders. You can rent a kayak or raft from several companies in the Dutch John area. These include the Flaming Gorge Lodge at 435-889-3773 or flaminggorgeresort.com and Green River Outfitters at 435-885-3338. For tours to the Flaming Gorge Dam call 435-885-3135.
Many of Deborah Wall’s columns were compiled in books about hiking in the Southwest. She is also the author of Great Hikes, a Cerca Country Guide and co-author of the book Access For All, Seeing the Southwest With Limited Mobility. Wall can be reached at [email protected]