We drove out eastbound on Hwy. 80 in hopes to hit cooler temps and take in Flaming Gorge. First stop was at the Rock Springs KOA in Wyoming. We wanted to do some recon at and around the Flaming Gorge Reservoir before setting up camp inside the area (after all, it was about a 3 hour round trip drive, not counting all the stops we made). The loop starts at Hwy. 191 at the west end of Rock Springs and pops out at Green River. The scenery was spectacular, even though it was kind of intermittently overcast and cloudy and the temps were mild (70’s). And the bonus, we got to see a few critters, both in AND out of the water.
Recon completed, we relocated to a National Park campground we found called Mann’s Campground. There were numerous small campgrounds scattered mostly at the southern end (Utah side) of the Gorge, no hookups dry camping but numbered sites and most had pit toilets on site. The feds still charge fees for these campgrounds, and with our Nat’l Parks access pass ($80 per year gets you into the NP’s free) it cost a whopping $6 per night for our home at Mann’s. No extra charge for all the chipmunks running rampant or the stinging harvester ants either! The weather was great the 3 days we stayed here, our solar panels providing all the power we needed without use of the generator. The big bonus was we only had 2 neighbors in the campground, well scattered at that.
We got into camp kinda late, so we just chilled for the rest of the day. The next morning it was “up and at ‘em” and off to check out the Flaming Gorge Dam & visitor center, then on to explore the Dinosaur National Monument which takes space in both Colorado and Utah. It was about a 45 minute drive to get to the Utah half of the park where, in the town of Jensen, UT you access the Quarry Visitor’s Center and Exhibit Hall. The discovery and excavation of the dinosaur bones started in 1909 and at the Exhibit Hall you can see lots o’ bones exposed in the rock face.
Cub Creek Rd. is about 12 miles of roadway meandering through various rock formations and points of interest. It ends at the Josie Morris Cabin. She settled here around 1914 and the cabin standing now she built around 1935. She was alleged to be an associate of Butch Cassidy and an accused cattle rustler.
Heading back out and E/B on Hwy. 40 we came to the town of Dinosaur, CO. Harper’s Corner Rd. took us up about 32 miles to Harper’s Corner, which has a scenic view overlooking the Green River just before it meets the Yampa River and a 2 mile hiking trail down into the canyon. Unfortunately for us, we had Woody with us and the park does not allow dogs on the trails. Oh well, there will be other trails to conquer…There are no fossil bones to be seen on this road, it is all about the scenery with several lookout points as you re-enter Dinosaur Nat’l Monument. We finished the day with some good food and good beer at the Vernal Brewing Co. in Vernal, UT, then returned home to plan the next day’s adventure.
Our next adventure…KAYAKING! We loaded up our trusty Sea Eagle inflatable kayak and hit the water of the Flaming Gorge reservoir. We put in at the Sheep Creek Bay boat ramp, then proceeded to cruise over by Beehive Point near Dowd Mountain and Hideout Canyon. It was a bee-you-tee-full day weather-wise, not too windy, and the water was cool, not cold. We definitely got a “fish-eye view” of the very nice scenery…
After lunch, we decided to drive the Sheep Creek Geological Loop (also known as the Sheep Creek Loop Scenic Backway). HOLY COW! Very spectacular sights to say the least. And the loop accesses the Spirit Lake Scenic Backway. These are all state maintained dirt roads where high clearance vehicles are not necessary but if they get muddy 4-wheel drive would be nice. We headed off to Spirit Lake and quickly found ourselves going from about 75 degrees and partly sunny to 56 degrees, rainy, and snow still on the ground. Topping that off, part of Spirit Lake was still iced over! There is a small campground and lodge at the lake, but it did not look like it was operational as yet and I would not try to drive the bus there even if I wanted to.
Well, back to the bus we went to prepare for another moving day. Our target is Bear Lake in Utah/Idaho. We will see…