February 2005: Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area


southwestern Wyoming

Traveling south out of Yellowstone and through Grand Teton National Parks (not good places for trail dogs) on US 191, you reach Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area in 250 miles. Legendary 19th century adventurer and naturalist John Wesly Powell named the Flaming Gorge after he saw the sun shining off the red canyon walls on his epic 1869 exploration of the Green and Colorado rivers. Butch Cassidy and other outlaws often used the isolated valleys along the Green River as hideouts. Nearly a century later there were still only primitive roads in the aea when construction began on the Flaming Gorge Dam to store water and generate electricity. The 502-foot high dam, backing the Green River up 91 miles, was completed in 1964 and the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area established four years later.

The best way to see the 1400-foot deep Red Canyon is on the Canyon Rim Trail, a multi-use trail accessed at the Red Canyon Visitor Center. In addition to the quiet overlooks at the canyon, this trail, that loops for nearly three miles past the campground, is also a good place to observe moose, elk and deer that graze here. Along the Green River is the Little Hole National Recreation Trail, a delightful seven-mile one-way walk below the Flaming Gorge Dam. Your dog may spend more time in the clear green waters than on the level, easy-hiking path. High altitude canine hiking is also available on Dowd Mountain and Ute Mountain while at Spirit Lake Campground a 3-mile loop visits a trio of alpine lakes above 10,000 feet.

Outside the recreation area, just downstream from the Green River Trail at Indian Crossing Campground is the John Jarvie Historic Site. In 1880, Scottish immigrant John Jarvie set up shop in the Browns Park area of the Green River. He also later operated a ferry on the river. In 1909, Jarvie was robbed and murdered and his body dumped in a boat and shoved out on the Green River. It floated for eight days before being discovered. The frontier buildings Jarvie used for his enterprises have been preserved by the Bureau of Land Management.

The Red Canyon Visitor Center is off Route 44, west of the Route 44, US 191 intersection.