Our visit to Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area was a challenge to plan. Most of the RV parks close to the rec area were captive to some wicked 6-8% grades with sharp switchbacks. In order to make life easier, we decided to stay in Manila. It is on the west side of the rec area, on the opposite shore to the dam, Vernal and other sites. On the plus side, it was fairly easy to get to and turned out to have a wonderful restaurant in town. Without the headwinds of the previous leg of our journey, mpg was a bit better this time along I80.
On WY530, outside of Green River, there were some nice 5 & 7% grades to deal with, but nothing too long. The drive south to Manila was very scenic with the occasional crossing of a fiord of the gorge. There was an turnout for a view of the badlands, a bleak landscape to say the least. Put up a sign and some idiot will think that it is just another canvas for his bleak attempt at art. Sad really.
Manila is located at the intersection of Utah highways 43 & 44. We used the KOA RV park as a base of operations for exploring Flaming Gorge National Recreational Area and surrounding areas. We took a one day to drive from Manila to the Flaming Gorge Dam. The views along the way were absolutely spectacular. There were numerous turnouts and overlooks to gawk and have your jaw drop in amazement at the landscape.
We stopped at the Flaming Gorge Lodge for lunch and it was really good food. A bit of a surprise really. The dam tour was really interesting, after you go through security, you see the dam from top to bottom. The tours depart every 20 minutes and we were lucky in that we had the tour guide all to ourselves. The next group had about 15 people in it.
They warn you about making sure you have quarters with you, so that you can get fish food from the gum ball machines overlooking the water outlets. The fish like to congregate at the base of the dam and it creates a real feeding frenzy when the pellets hit the water. There is also a family of marmots that live near the base of the dam and they know that as you scoop the fish pellets out of the machine, some will fall to the ground. So when they hear the quarters drop, one or more always comes to clean up your mess.
At the southern most section of the gorge, there is the Red Canyon Visitors Center and lookout. There are the most amazing views of the canyon. The area is fractured and there are deep crevices running parallel to the canyon walls. There are signs warning parents to keep track of their offspring as they could easily be lost.
Another day, we drove the Sheep Creek Canyon and Geological Loop, which loops off of Hwy 44, a couple of miles outside of Manila. The landscapes and cliffs are breathtaking. It was a hard choice as to which photo to put here, they are all breathtaking.
We had hoped to visit the Dinosaur National Monument, but the logistics of getting there and back in a reasonable amount of time was difficult to arrange. We could not find a place where we could board Robbie and Abby for the day. Maybe next time, we will arrange to stay a few days in Vernal, which is close to the DNM, however we will approach Vernal from the south, so as to avoid the grades and switchbacks that about around Flaming Gorge.
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|Early Summer 2013|
|Late Summer 2013|