Where We Be
The easy loop trail at Red Canyon Visitor Center
offers spectacular views of Flaming Gorge
Flaming Gorge, Utah
On a map Flaming Gorge National Recreation
Area looks like a thick blue squiggly line snak-
ing across the border of Wyoming into Utah in
the midst of dry country. In fact it's a reservoir
with a dam at its southern end in Utah. It looks
enticing to visit on a map, and in fact it
is fun to
visit. We started and ended our trip in Green
River, Wyoming, but in truth the best scenery
only appears as you cross into Utah and reach
the lower stretches of Flaming Gorge.

At its southern end the dammed river is at its
most scenic, filling the gorge with blue water.
The tall canyon walls are flaming red in the
sunlight (thus the name), and you can see
houseboats and motor boats plying the waters
up and down the canyon. Our favorite stops
were the two visitor centers, one at Flaming
Gorge Dam itself (including the overlook just
before it), and the other at Red Canyon with its
short loop trail offering spectacular views of
the curving river and red rock walls. When we
asked a ranger at Red Canyon where we should
stop for a picnic lunch, he said "definitely Dowd
Mountain Overlook." It necessitated a four-mile
drive up a graded dirt road but at the end was a
truly fantastic overlook which we had all to
ourselves for the most wonderful picnic lunch.
In theory the loop drive around Flaming Gorge takes 3 hours
total, but it took us double that with all the stops we made. We
headed out around 9 am from Green River, Wyoming and drove
along the west side of the loop, only to discover at the first
overlook that we were looking straight into the rising sun, which
washed out the views. So we switched gears and backtracked to
town, heading towards Rock Springs a few miles east, then took
the eastern side of the loop instead. This was a good decision
as the views were actually closer and better on the eastern side
and the sun was coming from the right direction. So if you do
this trip in the morning, start your drive on the eastern side.
Our first good view on the eastern side
was at Little Firehole Overlook in Wyoming
We caught our first glimpse of water on a spur road at Antelope Flat in Utah. In
our opinion one could do just the Utah portion of Flaming Gorge and not miss much.
At the overlook just before Flaming Gorge Dam Visitor Center, we could see the curving dam itself and a straight line
of "buoys" meant to keep boats out of the restricted area. The visitor center is the building right at the edge of the dam.
The reservoir views from the overlook were refreshing after so much dry country
Later on, as we drove to Red Canyon Visitor Center,
we passed over the picturesque bridge shown above
At Flaming Gorge Dam Visitor Center we got an up-close look
at the dam but decided to skip the 45-minute guided tour
The highlight of our day was our stop at Red Canyon Visitor Center. A short loop trail offers
scenic views of different parts of the gorge. This was the first view on offer -- not too shabby!
View in the other direction from the same spot
We liked this view of the curving river and red canyon walls even better
Lightning did a number on this tree
Inside the Red Canyon Visitor Center are more excellent views and
some interesting videos and displays like this one of a typical trapper
The other highlight of our day was our picnic lunch
at this amazing spot -- Dowd Mountain Overlook
If you want views like this all to yourself, drive the extra
four miles it takes to get here -- you won't regret it
Moments like this are what early retirement is all about
After Dowd Mountain go north just a little further to Sheep Creek Overlook
for one last amazing view. After that the views more or less peter out.
This is glorious country and the walking is flat and easy, so don't miss it
The sign says Red Canyon is 1,700 feet deep and 4,000 feet wide