Rock Springs, Wyoming: After a long haul drive yesterday, guess what we did today? Nothing would be a good answer, except of course we drove the 180-mile Flaming Gorge Scenic Byway loop (in the Honda). It was a wonderful day, with lovely weather (except for that dang wind), so please pour yourself a tall cup of something and sit yourself down to view way-too-many photos.
Our first stop was to visit Historic Green River, Wyoming – just a few miles from our campsite. This is where Major John Wesley Powell departed in 1869 to make the first exploration of the Green and Colorado Rivers. He left from Expedition Island – a small island in the middle of the Green River near downtown. Powell made this dangerous exploration with only one arm, after having lost his right arm in the Civil War.
There is now a park at the departure site, with plaques commemorating Powell’s expedition and noting later explorers.
From Green River, we headed south on 530 to Manila, Utah – following the Flaming Gorge Scenic Byway. This route follows the western edge of Flaming Gorge Reservoir (created when the Green River was dammed).
After entering Utah, we found friendly citizens in Manila. The town was named in 1898, commemorating the American naval victory at the Battle of Manila Bay in the Philippines. At Manila, we turned onto Highway 44.
We also saw many wild critters today, including hundreds of Pronghorn Sheep and several deer.
Another diversion was the Sheep Creek scenic drive – a scenic drive within a scenic drive. It was VERY scenic!
Sheep Creek drive
Where Sheep Creek flows in Flaming Gorge Reservoir
Your correspondent, trying to not be blown-off the cliff above Sheep Creek.
The Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area is loaded with fossils, and the scenic drive is dotted with informational signs explaining which “layer” of sediment you are now traversing and listing the common fossils found in that particular area. Several turnouts explain the layers and fossils. Very interesting and great for kids.
Different sediment layers around Flaming Gorge
At Moose Lake, we talked to fishermen and met a 12 week old beagle.
Is there anything cuter than a beagle puppy? (There is not, but we are not getting another beagle.)
At the Red Canyon Lodge, we found incredible vistas from a point high above the gorge, a small herd of Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep (ewes and lambs) and a Yellow Bellied Marmot.
Aptly named Green River from Red Canyon Visitor Center lookout
Red Canyon Visitor Center
Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep, female – tagged with a radio collar
Ewes and lambs
Smile for the camera!
Yellow Bellied Marmot
By now we were on Highway 191, and headed towards the dam.
Flaming Gorge Dam
Flaming Gorge Dam was constructed from 1960 to 1963. It is 500 feet high and 151 feet wide. At 6040 feet in elevation, Flaming Gorge Reservoir holds 4 million acre feet of water, is 91 miles long and has 375 miles of shoreline. Lady Bird Johnson was at the opening ceremony, but the switch to start the hydro-power was flipped in Salt Lake City – by President John Kennedy.
Flaming Gorge Dam
It wouldn’t be a drive through Cowboy Country without seeing a little roundup… so…
Clay Basin Overlook
It was a treat for us to see a herd of wild horses – though apparently this group often graze at this spot along the tour.
Most of the herd were on the down-hill side of the road, but another dozen or more were above the road – probably 40 or more in total. We noticed two very young foals as well.
Are you tired yet?
At the end of our eight-hour tour of the gorge, we returned to Rock Springs to see what we could see. There is a new part of town, with all the chain restaurants and a massive The Wal-Mart (with about ten RVs camping free in the parking lot), and there is an old part of town. The old part was more interesting. Though a bit run-down, it looks as if things are turning around.
We found a very nice brew pub – Bitter Creek Brewing
Perfect ending to a perfect day
42 photos tonight! Until my next update, I remain, your over-exposed correspondent.
Pedometer: I barely covered 10,000 steps. Thought it would be more with all the running around we did at the turnouts and walking around town. No matter – goal achieved.
RV PARK: Rock Springs/Green River KOA – We have a 50 amp gravel pull-through and paid $43.