Flaming Gorge – Uintas Scenic Byway


My expectations were low for Day 8, even though I knew I would be driving through some remarkably beautiful places. The weather was against me, and there was no direction I could drive to find sunshine.  So, I headed north from Vernal, up US 191 — the Flaming Gorge-Uintas Scenic Byway.

After leaving Vernal, US 191 skirts the edge of Steinaker Reservoir, then passes through some impressive outcroppings of red rock.  A few miles up the road, the highway gains some elevation, providing a nice view to the south.  That body of water on the other side of the red rock isn’t Steinaker Reservoir, though — it’s Red Fleet Reservoir, home to Red Fleet State Park.  The best reasons to visit Red Fleet State Park is the fishing and boating opportunities, but I imagine the scenery is pretty spectacular, too.

By the time I reached a higher elevation (above 8,000 feet in the Ashley National Forest), I was socked in by fog.

I tried to enjoy some scenic spots, but the weather covered up everything above the horizon.  The temperature had plunged, as well.  While it never dipped below freezing, I did end up driving through snow for a few miles.  I think that’s the first time I’d ever done that in June.

Just a few miles south of Flaming Gorge, Utah Route 44 splits off from US 191 and heads northwest, while 191 continues to the northeast.  If you stay on 191, you’ll pass over the top of the Flaming Gorge Dam.  A side road off U-44 will also give you a great view of Flaming Gorge’s Red Canyon.  Since I visited both of these locations in 2008, during slightly better (but still not great) weather, I decided not to stop at either area on this trip.  Instead, I took U-44 to U-43, to the Wyoming state line, then on to I-80 via Wyoming Route 414 and 413. 

Eventually the fog and snow eased up a bit, and the views got a little better.  I had seen these same areas before, in 2008, so I wasn’t terribly disappointed to miss out on some good pictures this time.  I still managed to get some good photos, looking towards Red Canyon…

… and further down the road, as U-44 drops down into Sheep Creek Canyon.  If the weather was better, I would have taken the Sheep Creek Loop, which heads further into the canyon.

At the town of Manila, U-44 ends, and you can take U-43 either east or west.  I chose west, and headed into Wyoming, and eventually to Interstate 80.

Drivelapse Video

Here’s a time-lapse dash-cam video of the drive from Vernal to the Flaming Gorge area…

… and from the UT/WY state line to Interstate 80, and on to Evanston, Wyoming:

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