Flaming Gorge, Utah: Jewel of Aquatic Adventure in the American West

Flaming Gorge and the surrounding area has everything you need for an amazing water-sports-filled vacation. Homey accommodations, delicious food and gracious hosts, and boat rental options make exploration of this one-of-a-kind landscape possible. Wakeboarding, water skiing, pontoon boating, jet skiing, paddleboarding, kayaking—whatever your speed, the opportunity is there. So take the plunge! Book your trip to the Flaming Gorge and experience one of the American West’s jewels of aquatic adventure.
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The Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Flaming Gorge, Utah is a premiere water recreation destination. Formed by the Flaming Gorge Dam on the Green River, the 91-mile-long body of water lies across the border of northeast Utah and southwest Wyoming. Named by legendary explorer John Wesley Powell for its brilliant red and orange geological features, the Flaming Gorge is one of the west’s most scenic places to boat and paddle. The area’s two towns, Manila (to the west) and Dutch John (to the east), have every modern amenity a traveler could ask for. Whether the experience you’re looking for is social or secluded, adrenaline filled or idyllic, high octane or human powered, Flaming Gorge has what you need to enjoy a vacation on the water.

This story was created in partnership with Flaming Gorge Country.

Water Sports & Activities

Wakeboarding, water skiing, pontoon boating, jet skiing, paddleboarding, kayaking—whatever your speed, the opportunity is there. The area’s several marinas and rental businesses can connect you with the vessels and detailed advice you need to start your adventure. Many of Flaming Gorge’s marinas offer half- and full-day rentals for all manner of watercraft, including pontoon boats, cruisers, kayaks, paddleboards, rafts, drift boats and toys like wakeboards, skis and tubes. Contact Lucerne Valley Marina, Cedar Springs Marina, Flaming Gorge Resort, Trout Creek Flies or Wild West Paddle to explore rates and availability.

Of course, the reservoir’s power boating infrastructure and vast open water is great for those with a need for speed. But with an intricate coastline of protected inlets and secret lagoons, stand up paddleboarding is a peaceful way to explore the hidden corners of Flaming Gorge. There are numerous public boat launches with restrooms, parking, and convenient places to start your paddle. A hot tip from locals is to park in the Dam Visitor Center parking lot and launch your board from the Dam Point Picnic Site. The launch point is easily accessible from the parking lot and offers a great vantage point to observe (from a distance) the dam’s incredible engineering. Paddle just a few hundred feet out and you’ll be silently gliding between two small, rocky islands.

If you’d like a little more structure to your stand up paddle exploration, consider following one of the Flaming Gorge Paddle Trails. You’ll likely still enjoy plenty of seclusion, but following these tried and true paddle routes will prepare you with a loose plan and an idea of what you’ll experience along the way.

Another area to consider for paddling is Red Fleet State Park. About 45 minutes south of the Flaming Gorge Dam Visitor Center, Red Fleet State Park is home to a reservoir of the same name. This body of water, separate from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir, has more coastline to explore, with spectacular overhanging sandstone formations. If you’re up for a quick land excursion, you can take a 1.5 mile hike to view some of the park’s dinosaur prints, left behind by ancient reptiles about 200 million years ago.

Restaurants for Boaters

You’ll likely work up an appetite on the water, so when you return to shore, stop in to The Snag Bar and Grill, a popular weekend après boat spot at Cedar Springs Marina. Offering casual fare like tacos, nachos, wraps, and a full bar, The Snag also features regular live music and a chilled out party atmosphere. Over in Manila, Browning’s Cafe (connected to Browning’s Motel) is known for their burgers and outstanding shakes. The restaurant at Flaming Gorge Resort in Dutch John was recently renovated and is a great place to grab breakfast or their famous Gorge Burger.

Lodging & Camping

Whether you want to spend your nights in a nice hotel, out camping under the stars, or even in a floating houseboat, the amenities in the Flaming Gorge area have you covered.

At Sweet Lorraine’s B&B, guests are treated to home-cooked breakfast and dinner and some of the nicest rooms in the Flaming Gorge Area. Red Canyon Lodge has private cabins of various sizes to accommodate couples, families, and larger groups. But don’t wait– Sweet Lorraine’s and Red Canyon Lodge (both in Dutch John) are popular, and can be tough reservations to book.

There are plenty of campgrounds available, too. Mustang Ridge Campground has lots of sites and is located just across the river from the Dam Visitor Center. Situated in a densely forested area, Mustang Ridge sites feel fairly private.  Red Canyon Campground and Canyon Rim Campground are located between Manila and Dutch John, and just a stone’s throw from a jaw-dropping scenic overlook called Edge of the Rim View Point. And with wide open skies and very little light pollution, you’ll be treated to crystal clear views of the night skies.

And if you’re enjoying the water so much you don’t want to leave–even to sleep– you can rent a houseboat! Lucerne Valley Marina has two types of houseboats for rent that can accommodate groups of up to 12 people.

Flaming Gorge and the surrounding area has everything you need for an amazing water-sports-filled vacation. Homey accommodations, delicious food and gracious hosts, and boat rental options make exploration of this one-of-a-kind landscape possible. So take the plunge! Book your trip to the Flaming Gorge and experience one of the American West’s jewels of aquatic adventure.

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