The Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area is located on the border of Utah and Wyoming. The boundaries of the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area run well into the southwest Wyoming plains, so there are plenty of majestic wide open spaces to be found on this side of the line. The Utah side is heavily forested and the red rock dominates the landscape in this area, which is amazing to see. The topography of this region was first documented by the John Wesley Powell during the Green River Expedition back in the late 1860s. Powell noted that he was mesmerized by the bright reflection of sunlight in the red canyons along this stretch of the Green River and appropriately named this place the Flaming Gorge.
For those who have never been to northeast Utah, the terrain does vary greatly in this region. Part of the landscape is composed of the continuation of the red rock Canyonlands terrain, while rolling hills with green forests are more frequently seen. There are plenty of mountain lakes, rivers and deep canyons in northeast Utah, so a sunset cruise in this area is guaranteed to be a roller coaster ride!
Because there are so many hills and valleys around Flaming Gorge, several different sunsets can be viewed while leisurely touring a 20 mile stretch of road in this neck of the woods! In fact, because of the deep canyons and gorges, it can be pitch black dark for a few miles, then bright as day in the next section of road. Folks that live in the mountains are used to all this, but for a visiting tourist, experiencing several different sunsets during a casual evening cruise in the mountains will surely result in sheer amazement!
The main attraction at the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area is the Green River Reservoir Lake that runs north into Wyoming. The main body of navigable water in this lake is located on the Utah side of the state line and this is where the Flaming Gorge Dam Visitor Center can be found. The Flaming Gorge Dam is the best choice for viewing the final sunset of the day after cruising through the surrounding mountains, because this part of the lake extends far into the western horizon and the glow of the setting sun will fill the sky with bright colors.
The deep navigable water in Flaming Gorge makes this reservoir lake a boaters paradise. This reservoir lake is also a dream come true for sport fisherman. Flaming Gorge is the home of trophy size Lake Trout which can weigh over 40 pounds, so be prepared for an extreme tug of war when doing some fly fishing! Rafting on the Green River has been a popular pastime ever since the days of John Wesley Powell and there is nothing like a relaxing lazy day of floating along in cool water while enjoying some spectacular red rock scenery. As far as finding relief from the extreme summer heat is concerned, it simply does not get any better than Flaming Gorge!
Camping is the best way to totally get away from the daily routine and there are plenty of campsites to choose from in the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. Red Fleet State Park and Steinaker Lake State Park are nearby and these destinations offer campsites too. There are hiking trails for all skill levels and many of the local trails pass by remnants of ancient civilizations. Fossil hunting is also a pastime in this region, especially near Red Fleet.
If access to modern amenities is preferred, several rustic mountain lodges can be found everywhere from the nearby Red Canyon all the way up to the Wyoming border on U.S. Highway 191. Outdoor outfitters, raft rentals, guide services and tackle shops can be found along this highway too. For big city conveniences, Rock Springs, Wyoming is the best bet and this is also the home of the original Cowboy Doughnuts!
As can be seen in the photos, the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area definitely is a great place to catch a dramatic colorful sunset! Because of the ever changing elevations on scenic Highway 191, it is possible to view several sunsets in one evening while passing through. If you time it right, you can cap off the trip by watching the grand finale sunset at the Flaming Gorge Dam before setting up camp. Taking this option certainly will inspire an eager early start for taking on the outdoor adventures that await in Flaming Gorge the next day!
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