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Exploring Flaming Gorge by Car

Numerous viewpoints are situated along U.S. 191 and Utah 44 in the Utah section of Flaming Gorge; especially dramatic is the Red Canyon Overlook on the southern edge, where a rainbow of colors adorns 1,000-foot-tall cliffs. Another great overlook is Dowd Mountain. In Wyoming, highways are farther from the lake, offering few opportunities to see the river and its canyons.

Sheep Creek Canyon, south of Manila on the western side, has been designated a special geological area by the Forest Service because of its dramatically twisted and upturned rocks. A mostly paved 11-mile loop road cuts off from Utah 44, offering a half-hour tour of this beautiful, narrow canyon, with its lavish display of rocks that have eroded into intricate patterns, a process that began with the uplifting of the Uinta Mountains millions of years ago. This loop may be closed in winter; check at the visitor center before heading out.

Flaming Gorge Dam & Power Plant

Completed in 1963 at a cost of $50 million for the dam and another $65 million for the power plant, Flaming Gorge is part of the Colorado River Storage Project, which also includes Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River along the Arizona-Utah border, Navajo Dam on the San Juan River in New Mexico, and a series of three dams on the Gunnison River in Colorado. At full capacity, the lake is 91 miles long and holds almost 4 million acre-feet of water. The dam, constructed in an arch shape for strength, is 1,285 feet long and stands some 450 feet tall; its three turbine generators can produce 152,000 kilowatts of electricity, enough to take care of the needs of 210,000 people.

The dam and power plant are open for free guided tours 9am to 3pm daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The total round-trip walking distance is just under half a mile. Check at the visitor center for the hours and times of the hour-long guided tours. You'll walk along the crest of the dam, then take an elevator ride to the power plant below, where you get to see the inner workings of the hydroelectric plant, with its huge transformers, generators, and turbines.

Swett Ranch Historic Site

This homestead, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was constructed by Oscar Swett starting in 1909, and contains two cabins, a five-room house, a meat house, a root cellar, sheds, a granary, and a barn, built and improved upon over a period of 58 years. Swett and his wife, Emma, raised nine children here, running the 397-acre ranch using only horse and human muscle power, before selling the property in 1968. From Utah 44, take U.S. 191 north for a half-mile and turn west (left) onto Forest Road 158, which you follow 1 1/2 miles to the ranch. The unpaved Forest Road is muddy when wet and not recommended for large RVs or trailers at any time. The ranch is open for guided tours only, Thursday through Monday from Memorial Day to Labor Day only (check with the visitor center for hours). Admission is free. Allow about an hour.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.