Nestled in the Unitas Mountains, Flaming Gorge is one of the most preferred lakes in Utah. Celebrated with frequent smooth water in the morning, excellent camp sites and scenic views of pine trees, it is second to Lake Powell in size and popularity. Several state fishing records come from this great reservoir.

Elevation: 6,023 ft.
Long: 42 miles
Wide: .3 miles
Shoreline: 208 miles
Deep: 436 ft.

View Flaming Gorge Reservoir in a larger map



Source: http://www.waterquality.utah.gov/watersheds/lakes/FLAMINGG.pdf

Flaming Gorge Reservoir is one of the largest bodies of water in Utah. It was built to impound spring floods in the Green River and store them for year-round use for Arizona, Nevada, and southern California. The reservoir is second only to Lake Powell in size and recreational popularity.

This reservoir holds the state record for several species of trout. The lower end of the reservoir is in Red Canyon and the Flaming Gorge itself, while the upper part spills over the Wyoming deserts. Flaming Gorge and Red Canyon are both several thousand feet deep and with brick-red walls. They were named by John Wesley Powell, the leader of the first intensive exploration of the Green/Colorado Rivers. The dam was built in Red Canyon, the second of five deep canyons the Green River has carved through the Uinta Mountains. A lake, rather than a river, now lies at the bottom of the gorge. Millions of years ago, drainage in the area was to the east into the Platte Riv er drainage. During the Pliocene, central Wyoming was uplifted and the headwaters of the Green River captured the drainage. Subsequent uplift has taken place in the Uinta Mountains area, and the Green River has essentially maintained its original elevation, carving deep canyons through the mountains.

Damming rivers is easiest in narrow canyons. Dams have been proposed in Lodore, Whirlpool and Split Mountain Canyons, but the dam in Red Canyon is the only one that has ever been built.

Construction was begun in 1958 and completed in 1964. The 502 foot high dam was built out of concrete in an arch shape. Land surrounding the reservoir is managed by the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. Public access is unrestricted. Water is used for both culinary and irrigation purposes.


Accesses to Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area are on US-191 between Green River, WY and Vernal, UT. Access from the north and west is also possible on Wyoming Highway 414, from I-80 at Fort Bridger, WY to Manilla, UT. Recreational areas are concentrated along the south side of the Flaming Gorge and Red Canyon on U-44, which connects US-191 to W-414. Access areas are well marked.

Cross-country skiing, fishing, boating, swimming, camping, picnicking, cliff diving, and water skiing are all popular. Although most recreation areas are closed in the winter, there is still opportunity for wintertime activities. Boat ramps are available at Sheep Creek Bay near Manilla and at sites near the dam. There are dozens of campgrounds in the recreation area. For further recreational information, contact the Recreation Area Headquarters (see info box). There is a private campground in Manilla.

There are visitors centers at the dam and on the south shore of the reservoir. Interpretive exhibits, recreational information, and tours of the 50 story tall dam and hydroelectric turbines are available.

Watershed Description

Flaming Gorge Reservoir is located on the Green River as it cuts through the Uintas. The immediate area consists of steep canyon walls and high mountains, with heavy precipitation in the Uintas. Clear mountain streams flow into the south shore of the reservoir, fed by melting winter snowpack. The area is heavily forested, and logging takes place.

In the transition area between the Uintas and the Wyoming desert, the rock strata are sharply tilted to the south, and vegetation communities gradually taper from dense forest to sagebrush. The various strata in close proximity result in variable topography, with steep escarpments, deep canyons, and undulating softer layers. The Sheep Creek Natural Area, west of Flaming Gorge, has a paved road traversing many different strata.

The Wyoming deserts are barren and receive little precipitation. The Green River flows south across them for several hundred miles, from the Wind River Range to the Utah state line.

The source of the Green River is in the Wind River Mountains, the highest range in Wyoming and one of the most remote ranges in the continental United States. The watershed high point, Gannett Peak, is 4,201 m (13,785 ft) above sea level, thereby developing a complex slope of 1.2% to the reservoir. Slopes to the south of the reservoir, however, average 15% to the ridgeline of the Uintas at 10,000′. The average stream gradient of the Green River above the reservoir is 1.2% (64 feet per mile) The major inflows are the Green River, Blacks Fork, and Henrys Fork. Minor inflows include Carter Creek, Sage Creek, Spring Creek, Summers Dry Creek, Currant Creek, Cart Creek, and Birch Spring Draw. There are numerous natural lakes in the Uintas and the Wind Rivers. Many streams have been impounded or diverted for irrigational purposes. Major upstream reservoirs include Fontanelle Dam and Big Sandy Reservoir.

The watershed is made up primarily of high mountains, foothills, high desert plains, and badlands. The soil associations that compose the watershed are listed in Appendix III.

The vegetation communities, in order from desert to alpine, include barren areas, grass-sagebrush, agricultural land, giving way to pinyon-juniper, oak, maple, mountain mahogany, which in turn give way to pine, aspen and fir, and finally to alpine. The watershed receives 20 – >102 cm (8 – >40 inches) of precipitation annually. The frost-free season around the reservoir is 80 – 120 days per year.

Land use in the watershed is primarily open range in the high deserts, and multiple use in the mountains. The thick forests on the north slope of the Uintas are intensively logged, including areas less than one mile from the reservoir. Much of both the Uinta and Wind River portions of the watershed are federally protected wilderness areas.

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2 Responses

  1. derrick500 says:

    i love it

  2. Marissa Licata says:

    Good job, thanks for postin this.

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