2011 RUNNING & TRAVEL ADVENTURES

 

   
 
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   TRIP NOTES, DAY 2:  
FLAMING GORGE → THE UT/WY LINE

TUESDAY, AUGUST 23

 
". . .  Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area straddles the border between 
Wyoming and Utah. The area includes a 91-mile-long reservoir and the Flaming Gorge
and Red canyons, which were carved through the Uinta Mountains by the Green River."
 
~ AAA Tour Book for Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, 2011 Edition, p. 152
 
 

This was our first time in the Flaming Gorge area. It wasn't a destination; we were just passing through today. I'd like to spend more time here someday.

We reached Reunion Flat Campground on the west side of the Grand Teton Range this afternoon, hauling the 5th-wheel through 378 scenic miles of mountains and valleys today. It took us 8Ĺ hours (8:25 AM to ~ 5 PM) with several stops. Our total distance from Leadville was 646 miles.

Almost all of today's mileage was on two-lane, hilly, curvy roads; only 23 miles were on a freeway. We also had to drive slowly through several towns.

Our fuel mileage ranged from 6+ MPG going up 3,000 feet in a few miles from Vernal, UT to an average of 10 Ĺ MPG for the day by the time we arrived at Reunion Flat.


Reservoir at Steinaker SP north of Vernal, UT

Today's weather was great Ė sunny all day with very few clouds and some breeze. It was in the upper 50s in the morning to the 80s in the afternoon.

Elevations ranged from about 5,319 feet in Vernal to 8,428 feet a few miles north of there. We were mostly at 6,000 to 7,000 feet all day.

TODAY'S ROUTE:

  • US 191 north of Vernal, UT for 35 miles to the southern end of Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area

  • UT 44 west 28 miles to Manila, UT at the WY state line

  • UT 43 east 2 miles to WY 530

That's where this page ends. I took a lot of photos today and I need to spread them out over two pages. The second page begins at the UT/WY state line and chronicles the rest of today's journey to Reunion Flat.


Reddish walls surround Flaming Gorge Reservoir.

We left the Vernal, UT Walmart about 8 this morning, after a quiet night resting in their parking lot. We drove back east on US 40 about two miles to get to US 191 north.

Before reaching that intersection we stopped at an RV parts and service store to get a new bathroom vent cover; ours was gone when we arrived at Walmart yesterday. It blew off somewhere during the day. Good thing it wasnít raining!

We were glad the shop was open that early because we didnít see any other RV dealers or repair shops on our way to Teton Canyon.

US 191 NORTH OF VERNAL:

This is a good "red" road (i.e., national highway = more heavily-traveled) through the Uinta Mountains. It is rather slow in an RV because of all the curves, distracting scenery, and almost 3,000 feet of elevation gain in the first few miles. The grade is not steep but it is pretty relentless.

We saw some mining operations in the first six miles where the landscape is mostly high desert rocks and sage:

 

The highway is designated scenic on our AAA map for good reason.

We passed two state parks in the first few miles. Steinaker SP, just north of Vernal, has a small, attractive reservoir. Red Fleet State park is a few miles beyond that. We didn't drive into either park.

There was some traffic on this road but folks could pass us OK.

As we entered the huge Wasatch-Cache National Forest about ten miles north of Vernal the terrain completely changed around 8,000 feet elevation. Here we entered a much greener world of pines, aspens, and broad grassy meadows.

It was very pretty and totally different than the first few miles:

We had to stop twice for a road striping (painting) crew, then again for some paving work farther north.


Newly-paved road that hasn't been striped yet

We passed several campgrounds before we got to the south end of Flaming Gorge. We didnít have any views of the lake until we got on UT 44.

US 191 continues north on the eastern side of the gorge and intersects I-80 east of Green River, WY at exit 99. We chose to drive up the west side of the gorge on UT 44 and WY 530 because they are more direct the way we wanted to go and appeared to be closer to the lake.

UT 44:

This state highway, a lesser-traveled "black" road on the AAA map, isnít in as good shape as US 191. It is more narrow and a little bumpy so we drove more slowly.

There was minimal traffic, which was a good thing because of the cattle grazing in the area:

This part of the national forest is open range land. So were some of the other roads we drove on today but that was the only place we had to stop for cows.

I was hoping to see more of the 91-mile long reservoir from the roads we were on. Although UT 44 is scenic through the forests and mountains we got only a few glimpses of the gorge in the first ten miles of it:

We'll have to come back another time, leave our camper in a campground, and drive around the rec area in just the truck to get more views. 

From UT 44 we could see snow on some 13ers in the Uinta Mountains to the west -- still there in late August. This was a high snowpack year throughout the West.

FLAMING GORGE

It's obvious how the canyon got its name from all the red rock walls in the gorge and foothills surrounding the lake:

We finally got some great views of Flaming Gorge and the reservoir about ten miles into UT 44 as it switch-backed down and around the SW side of the lake:

 

 

We stopped at an overlook for a few minutes and I got a couple decent pictures there; all the others were from the moving truck:

Jim teased Cody by holding him back (only temporarily) so he couldn't run down to where I was standing to take pictures:

 

As we descended I wish weíd gone off on a paved road down to Sheep Creek Bay; there was plenty of room to turn around and it was close to the water:

 

 


There is a large parking area in Sheep Creek Bay with plenty of room for RVs.

We enjoyed more colorful scenery as we continued north on WY 44 and descended to the valley toward the UT/WY state line:

 

 

 

We left the Wasatch-Cache National Forest a few miles before the town of Manila, UT:

After reaching Manila we turned right on UT 43 and drove a couple miles east to reach the WY border and WY 530.

Next pagemore great scenery through Wyoming and Idaho to the Tetons

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the Ultra Lab

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© 2011 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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