Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area

Manila, UT

After our visit to Laramie we headed west on I-80, driving across rolling hills while fighting stiff headwinds.  At Green River we turned south on WY-530 for 40 miles to the Lucerne Campground in the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area.  The campground is on a peninsula that is in Utah, but the entrance is in Wyoming.

After Labor Day the park no longer takes reservations so we did not have a site reserved.  But the park is fairly empty so we were able to take a nice pull-thru site with a great view of the water and 50 amp electricity.

Site A 16

The view out the side window of the motorhome

A few of our neighbors

After setting up we drove a few miles to the nearby town of Manila, UT.  It’s a tiny town (pop. 300) but it does have a small grocery store (combined with a hardware store), fuel, and a couple small restaurants.

The next day we set out for a drive of about forty miles around the southern end of the Flaming Gorge Reservoir to visit the Flaming Gorge Dam.  We drove back to Manila and turned south on UT-44.  The road quickly climbed up into beautiful rock formations.

In a few miles the winding road turned to the north, giving us outstanding views of Flaming Gorge.

Looking to the north

Looking to the south

As the road climbed up over the hills there were a number of places to pull over and enjoy the view from different elevations.

A few miles before the intersection with Hwy-191 we turned north and drove three miles to the Red Canyon Visitors Center.  Along the way a herd of Big Horn Sheep kept their eye on us.

The Visitor Center has a great glass enclosed viewing area with a breathtaking look at the Green River as it flows through Red Canyon.

There is also a paved path that goes out to a point with more views of Red Canyon.  This paved path is actually part of the Canyon Rim Trail which continues for nine miles.

We continued along UT-44 to its terminus at US-191 and turned north toward the dam.  A few miles before the dam we crossed over the Cart Creek Bridge (also called the Flaming Gorge Reservoir Bridge), a 568 foot “steel through arch” span over a section of the reservoir.

A few miles from the bridge the top of the Flaming Gorge Dam came into view.

Completed in 1964, the dam is 502 feet high and 1,285 feet long and its reservoir has a capacity of more than 3.7 million acre feet, or about twice the annual flow of the upper Green River. Operated to provide long-term storage for downstream water-rights commitments, the dam is also a major source of hydroelectricity and is the main flood-control facility for the Green River system.

The dam has a nice visitor center and free tours are provided three times an hour.  While our young guide needs a little polish to her presentation (former teachers are a bit critical), we did enjoy going down inside the dam and outside at its base.

A mile or so beyond the dam there is a great observation point for a view of the entire structure.

Drive about a mile further north on US-191 and there is another viewpoint with views of both the bridge and the top of the dam.

On the return drive to Manila we had to stop to take in another view of the Flaming Gorge.

Tomorrow we’ll begin to explore some of the hikes and side roads in the area.  More on that later . . .

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25 Responses to Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area

  1. Sue says:

    Your pictures are whetting our appetite, we’ll be there in two weeks and can’t wait! I love the raised heads of those mountain goats, nothing gets by them I see!

  2. Ingrid says:

    Love it…. definitely on our list!!! My kind of place! I swear you must carry sheep treats in your pockets 😉

  3. Marsha says:

    Beautiful header photo.

    Flaming Gorge is gorgeous. I just love the deep blue of the water against the red rock. Green River…outstanding!

    Free tours of Flaming Gorge Dam…awesome. I like the view from the outside basin.

    You two have the eyes to find those sheep everywhere you go.

  4. Sherry says:

    WOW, flat out gorgeous. Love your campsite and your neighbors. What a fantastic view out the VC windows. I am planning another trip west and am using all these places I’ve never been to that you have shown me. Keep up the good work!

  5. Gay says:

    What a beauty of a place…the colors are so vibrant! And to see the Big Horns is just the icing on the cake! The picture under the the sign that explains the reservoir is amazing. Green River is much more appealing to look at that the Colorado River.

    And I noticed the “Welcome to Utah” sign has changed from Delicare Arch to a dinosaur…a new dinosaur museum just opened up here in Moab.

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks, Gay:) We certainly are thrilled to be back in the land of beautifully colored scenery. The Green River is beautiful and such a pretty deep emerald green. I don’t know if all the Welcome to Utah signs are changed or just this one since Dinosaur NM is so close.

  6. Janna says:

    Love the sheep photos!

  7. LuAnn says:

    Flaming Gorge has been on our list for sometime and you have shown me why we have to go…beautiful! I think you two are sheep whisperers! Everywhere you go you find them. 🙂

  8. Jodee Gravel says:

    More sheep who earned their “We saw Pam and John!” t-shirts – yay! Love those wide open western spaces you’re in. Really good to see some water :-)))

  9. Mary says:

    Excellent. I haven’t been there for years. I camped a few times there when my boys were younger.

  10. This looks like a terrific stop! Love the quiet campground and wildlife! Cool bridge too! I bet you have way fewer tourists to deal with mid day than we do in Yellowstone!

    • placestheygo says:

      I’m sure we have seen fewer tourist than you two! As a matter of fact, John and I were commenting today how nice it is to have the place and roads almost to ourselves:) Yellowstone has been crazy this summer from what I’ve read.

  11. libertatemamo says:

    Stunning and gorgeous! We SO loved that area when we were there a few years back. Your pics make me want to go back!!


  12. Laurel says:

    Wow, just like everyone else has said — what a gorgeous place! It’s not been on our radar, but now it is. Those views are just fantastic. Love the colors — the water, the rock, the sky…no where but in the West!

  13. We need to tag along with you, you seem to be a magnet for Big Horn Sheep! What a gorgeous place. This could be a stop for us next year.
    So there is another Manila outside of the Philippines!
    That dam too looks familiar, maybe from an old James Bond movie 🙂

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