Simply Spectacular – Flaming Gorge, UT
All I can say is simply SPEC-TAC-U-LAR. Spectacular views, spectacular trails, spectacular peace. Today we’re the ONLY RV in a what I would consider a primo campground with views that I’ve rarely seen rivalled anywhere on our travels. Why isn’t this place mobbed? How can this be?
Before my amazement gets the better of me, I guess I should step back a few days and tell you how we got here. Last year I was following some RV friends (Marilyn, Jim and lovely pooch Chester) on their travels through a spot that looked simply too good to miss. The place went immediately on my list of “must sees” and we planned our summer trip this year specifically to hit both the very-same spot and campground they had stayed at.
The secret area is called the Flaming Gorge. Renowned for its geological beauty and fiery red rocks, it’s a 3,788,900 acre (4,674 cubic meter) reservoir tucked at an elevation of ~6,000 feet in the northern boundary of Utah and Wyoming. The big draw here is the water and the fishing. In fact the chilly clear deep blue produce world-record-breaking fish (50lb (23kg) lake trout, anyone?), and if you make the trip down to dip in the waters (oh yes we did) you’ll find that’s where most folks are hanging out. Down by the river you can even score a white-water rafting trip and a free tour of the dam (pretty cool!).
But take a trip 8 miles up the hill and you’ll get a totally different view, and a totally different feel. At Canyon Rim you can gawk at 1,400 foot sheer drops that frame the snaking deep-blue reservoir to the horizon. Mountain weather adds to the allure with a constantly changing panorama of color and texture giving the view of a living Van Gough painting. Only a few day-trippers seem to take the trip, mainly to take a snapshot, and almost no-one stays here (!).
Want even more remoteness? Take the trip out of the Flaming Gorge and into the Ashely National Forest, a 1,287,909 acre natural playground which is one of the least-visited and undiscovered forests in the area (the Dows have a great description on their forest camping website).
So, why isn’t this place mobbed? Well, if you’re coming directly from CO it’s one tough drive to get here. The 139 from Fruita, CO to Rangely, UT is not for the faint of heart. With my usual bravado yours truly decided to take the wheel that day, blissfully unaware of the sharp drop-offs and narrow curves to come. I’m fine with steep grades, but there was (get this) a spot where the road had broken off into the ravine and one turn where not much but the RV could fit. In my mind this was worse than the Million Dollar Highway, and our trusty Mountain Directory book did *not* make that clear.
Nonetheless it was a beautiful drive, despite the hair-raising bits and I’d have pictures except that hubby was too busy clenching the sides of his chair to do the job. There are other ways to get here, (probably the routes I’d recommend for the less adventurous) but they’re longer drives and not major freeways.
The drive, and the fact that most people come for the water explains why we’re all alone by the rim. We’ll be spending several days romping around in the mountain glory up here, going for a few long hikes, basking in near-perfect temperatures, hopefully spotting some Big Horn and getting happily drunk on the simply SPEC-TAC-U-LAR views.
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Mark S says
wow…another great find! Tell Paul to get back to the rig and figure out what we should be (gulp) buying. =)
Yeah, market has been a little nutty these past few days. Gonna be lots of opportunity to buy soon, of course.
I’ll kick him into action for ya 🙂
Lee Benson says
I enjoy your blog. I have been to some of the places you have shown but NOT this one. That is ironic because that is the site of what would have been my first job, working on the dam right out of college, but my uncle had other ideas and wanted me to go fight with some guys in a swamp.
Keep up the good work. I read the investment site also.
So happy you’re enjoying the blog. This is definitely a spot worth seeing.
Thank you. It is indeed! Nina
We discovered Flaming Gorge in 1999. It was our first taste of “red rock”. We were as awe struck as you are.
I have to admit it’s pretty impressive when you first see it.
I’m still amazed at how few people are here.
Donna seymour says
Thanks for sharing. This is a place that I will have to visit.
Happy to provide some inspiration 🙂
Wow! What a view! I am constantly amazed with Utah. Enjoy your peaceful solitude and amazing views.
Utah has some spectacular extremes…from raging hot red desert to cool pine forests.
I really enjoy this state!
Armando Novell says
Unbelievable ,wish we could be there.EnjoY
Would love to have you guys here too! Miss you all!
jil mohr says
ok we have tried before but weather kept us away…but now that I read your report the roads would keep me away so what is the “other” way you would recommend since you know I am not the feint of heart….and the views are as promised spec.tac u lar…..
The easiest (least curvy) way is probably across the 80 and then take the road down 191 to Flaming Gorge.
Or, if you’re coming from south across the 40 and then 191 up.
The 191 does have some curves, but is not nearly as crazy as the 139.
Sue Malone says
0migosh, Niina, that view definitely deserves all capitals! Wow. I so love red rock country in Utah, but have only seen Flaming Gorge from the interstate. What a treasure.
It truly is a treasure. Never imagined it would be this spectacular. Very happy we came!
We were at Flaming Gorge in May and in our campground was a fifth wheel and us. It was just incredible. A little cold when we were there but still beautiful. We also came over 139 and I vowed never again. I told Jim I prayed us up and I prayed us down and that was more than enough.
Oh I am SO with you!! That 139 road was way more crazy than I could have imagined.
We probably won’t do that one again either.
It is a great place and as you said fantastic vistas,in the past we too visited the area and loved it.
Regards and keep having fun.
Yeah, it’s wonderful! And…will do! Nina
Jerry and Suzy says
You’ve just added another site to our future travels. We are going to have to live a very long time to get to them all!
That’s the plan isn’t it….once you start it’s really hard to stop LOL
Unreal photos. WOW! ~Ayo
Thanks very much 🙂
jil mohr says
Jim and Gayle says
We were at Flaming Gorge in June 2010 and couldn’t believe how few people were there, either. It was wonderful!
I AM amazed at how few people are here.
Good to know that you experienced the same thing.
Makes this place a nice little hidden gem
I commend you for driving the motorhome. I do also and I think it’s very important that women know how. (I also do the dumping. :)) We’ve been on highway 139 and I remember the broken pavement – but we came down it, not up! We also came “down” Hwy 191 and that is a whoopie do ride, too! Fun times we RVers have to see this beautiful country. Safe travels.
Totally with you on the driving (and the dumping!). I agree that all gals should
learn how to work the rig. You never know when you might need to do it
on your own and it’s a huge safety net that both partners can drive.
And power to you for doing the 139….what a drive!
Debby & Bill Kasson says
So what is the name of this campground! We are so there!! From Burning Man we are heading out to Utah/CO, thanks so much for all your great info!
Full review a-coming in the next post! It’s a great spot. Nina
Huh. Funny, I have been to Fleming Gorge but I don’t remember it being this beautiful! I think I’ll have to go back some day. Thanks for the inspiration!
Happy to provide some inspiration 🙂 And thank you for the lovely compliment.
Was this campsite free! Looks like a place we will have to visit!
No, we stayed at the $10/night National Forest Campground on the rim. However there IS also free camping in this area. See my review (and free camping tips) here:
Loved reading this article, it was great help to me when trying to decide on a campsite in the area! I was originally planning for a stop in Green River, but ended up booking a site on Canyon Rim instead. I’m sure I won’t be dissapointed! 🙂
This is a gorgeous place. I’m sure you’ll love it!