My husband and I took our kids to Flaming Gorge for the first time this summer and I wondered why we hadn’t come there sooner. It was awesome and we had tons of fun. And believe it or not, we didn’t have a boat the whole time. Here’s what we did.
Flaming Gorge Reservoir is about an hour outside of Vernal, Utah. As one of Utah’s most popular recreational destinations, it never fails to impress. There so much to do. Here’s just a few ideas for your next trip.
Flaming Gorge cliff jumping
With 43 campgrounds spread over the 91-mile stretch of the gorge, there’s plenty of places to stay and plenty of cliff jumping opportunities. Red rock cliffs are found everywhere along the perimeter of the reservoir. We camped at the popular Mustang Ridge Campground that has some of the most popular cliffs.
This stretch of cliffs range from 5 feet high to 50 feet high. So, people of all ages can jump at their own comfort level. The highest I dared jump from was 15 feet. But use caution, cliff jumping can be very dangerous and there are signs warning you of the dangers.
I was surprised by how popular crawdad hunting is at Flaming Gorge. When it’s dark outside, grab a net or a crawdad trap and start hunting. They love to hide in the rocks in the water. But you can find them in shallow water too.
Another tip is to poke some holes into a package of hot dogs and leave it in your trap overnight. When you pull it out of the water in the morning, you’ll have tons of crawdads inside.
Cook the live crawdads in a pot of boiling water and you have dinner. Yum! Here’s a great recipe on how to cook crawdads.
Within walking distance of Mustang Ridge Campground is an inlet of Flaming Gorge called Sunny Cove. Even if you aren’t staying at the campground, there’s a parking lot for day visitors. It’s perfect for kayaking. Similar inlets can be found throughout the gorge.
My son and I kayaked all the way to the dam and checked out a fun island in the middle of the reservoir. Plus, it’s fun to kayak out and watch the cliff jumpers. Hours of entertainment. If you go early in the morning, the water is like glass. We like the Lifetime Kayaks. They are affordable and fun for all ages.
Floating the Green River
Below the Flaming Gorge dam is a seven-mile self-guided float down the Green River to Little Hole. The water is crystal clear and the scenery unmatched. The rapids are very mild so everyone in our family, including our three-year-old son and my husband’s 88-year-old grandma, had fun.
We rented a 10-man raft from Flaming Gorge Resort for $110 for the entire day. If you don’t have a truck or enough cars to shuttle, the resort also provides shuttle services for an additional fee.
You can actually float the river year-round. My husband and I did it the day after Thanksgiving. It was a bit colder, but still tons of fun. Take a deep breath though if you want to get in the water. It’s a frigid 50 degrees even in the middle of the summer.
The fishing on the Green River below Flaming Gorge is arguably the best fly fishing west of the Mississippi. The dam releases water at varying temperatures, keeping the river at optimal conditions for happy and healthy trout.
My husband is an avid fisherman and this is by far his favorite place to fish. But don’t forget, you can only keep the fish if they are smaller than 15 inches or larger than 22 inches.
Take a dam tour
This was really fun and FREE! The Flaming Gorge Visitor’s Center offers tours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily every 20 minutes. But get there a little early and reserve a time slot. We got there around 3 p.m. and had to wait about an hour.
Your tour guide will take your down 42-flights to the bottom of the dam. There you can feed the ginormous trout that hang out at the mouth of the dam. So bring some quarters. The entire tour took about 45 minutes.
Enjoy the campground and beach
Mustang Ridge is a great campground within walking distance of the beach. There’s no hookups but they have showers. Try to reserve your spot ahead of time, but if you can’t, the campground leaves several spots open that are first come first serve. If you arrive in the morning, you can almost always find a spot.
There are 43 campgrounds that host more than 700 campsites at Flaming Gorge. So there is something for everyone. Check out this post about Flaming Gorge’s best campgrounds.
What fun activities do you enjoy at Flaming Gorge? Leave your comments below.
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