I climbed into the boat, happy with the idea of floating down the Green River for a short distance in the manner of explorer John Wesley Powell. Sure, I wasn’t on some grand expedition like his team. I was just out enjoying a hike through one of the most beautiful spots in Utah – and that’s saying something.
The southern part of Utah is filled with stunning national parks and scenic byways. But they’re also filled with gobs of tourists. And rightfully so, since they’re some of the most beautiful red rock plots of land on the planet. But the Flaming Gorge area has a charm that I have not noticed on any of my trips through the south.
I traveled to Daggett County, Utah on a Utah Office of Tourism-sponsored trip. We were there to hike and fish in an area that is unjustifiably overlooked in favor of the south. Northeast Utah, with its mountains, canyons, and opportunities for wildlife, is virtually unthought of when it comes to planning a trip to Utah.
That is unless you’re interested in doing a little fly fishing.
Ever since an odd couple of incidents with bullheads while fishing with my grandparents at their home in northern Minnesota, I have zero desire to catch anything unless it comes breaded and out of a box. So instead of plopping myself down in a boat for endless hours of something I knew I wouldn’t enjoy, the Utah folks set me up on a hiking trip with Mark Wilson from the Red Canyon Lodge.
From the base of the dam, which creates a massive reservoir in Utah and Wyoming, Mark guided me along a trail while the other members of my group took in a little fishing. He explained that fishing was the big draw in the area. And with the catches my new friends reeled in, I could understand why. But as Mark talked I drew a conclusion that it was an overlooked oasis when it came to great hiking trails.
Not only were we hiking through a beautiful canyon, but there were mountain trails that presented amazing opportunities for wildlife viewing. Deer, big horn sheep, and moose litter the landscape, according to Mark. And I saw firsthand that he was telling the truth when later that evening I saw herds of deer and big horn sheep within walking distance of his lodge.
Our hike through the Flaming Gorge was flat and easy, but it was not void of great scenery. The walls of the canyon towered above us, creating great photo opportunities. And while I wanted to continue on and finish our hike, I appreciated the opportunity to get in a boat and take a few shots on the river.
I only cut out on about a mile of the trail. It wasn’t a lot, but enough to get some great shots from an area where Powell made camp so many years before. It hasn’t changed much since he lead his team there, either. There are a few boat ramps in place now, but the area largely remains untouched and yet unexplored.