Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area - Utah
We had put the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area on our “need to visit” list since quickly driving through in the fall of 2019 while returning from Alaska. I’ve always known about the place, but have never visited.
We are travelling from Colorado to Montana and the Flaming Gorge ended up to right in the way. We were patient and eventually got a campsite for four nights at the Lucern Campgrond just outside of Manila Utah. The campground is almost literally sitting on the Utah/Wyoming border. The site we could get into was paved, had a fire pit and windbreak and an Electric hookup. It’s located next to the Green River which is backed up here because of the Dam lower down stream. Most everyone here are here for power boating and lake fishing.
For us, this was a great place to slow down after two quick days of travel since Silverton. We share this park with a small heard of Pronghorn and a close by Osprey nest. The Pronghorn are easy going and evidently well accepting of all the crowds here. They are put on the run here, only when people are walking directly up to them. When they do, you can see why the Pronghorn is the fastest land animal in the Western Hemisphere. Buck, doe and fawn all easily keep up with each other. Most often we would see them grazing the fields nearby AIROSMITH, or laying down in the shade under trees.
We undertook several excursions here. Our first was the Sheep Creek Nature Trail followed by the Sheep Creek Geological Loop. Sheep Creek is only one of many that empty into this massive reservoir. Land locked Kokanee Salmon spawn in this Creek in the fall. The path is short and flat traveling through a a Riparian area dominated by Cottonwood trees.
The drive is about 12 miles long and takes you through millions of years of geologic history.
Several days later, after a visit to the Ashley National Forest visitors center in Manila, we paddled on the Reservoir from Sheep Creek Bay to Kingfisher Island. It was a beautiful day for our three hours on the water. On the water you see the open vistas and steep canyons. We saw Herron and Osprey and generally enjoyed the day. Even though the reservoir allows us to enjoy this area, one can only wonder what beauty lies under the water that was created by the Dam. You can only imagine what John Wesley Powell saw as he first explored the Green River and first saw the sun drenched vermillion cliffs that earned the name of Flaming Gorge.
Throughout the paddle, we kept seeing Osprey nests. Often we see them on utility poles, close to open water. We have seen Osprey in most open water where we have kayaked. From Florida to Alaska, we watch these sea eagles fishing. Osprey are perhaps the most successful hunters of any raptor. The nests we saw on the water here are massive, and always perched on a rock spire. Listen close and you will here their calls. The chicks in these nests have not yet fledged. Look around and you will find an adult nearby.
Paddling close to these walls allows you to see the small things that might otherwise be missed. Like this small collection of Paintbrush.