Week 5: On the water at Flaming Gorge

View of Flaming Gorge Reservoir and the mountains from our campsite at Lucerne Campground
Lucerne Campground at Flaming Gorge had ALL the views!

I’ll be honest, when Joel booked our campground at Flaming Gorge I was uninspired. I didn’t know where it was. And I wondered, “What’s the big deal?” Turns out — it’s a pretty great spot filled with boondocking locations (which we didn’t know about), some primitive (but light fee) campgrounds and then regular campgrounds. So week 5 took us to the borders of Wyoming and Utah, and that was quite the drive from the coast of California.

Traveling to Flaming Gorge from the west coast

We planned a 4-day, 1,027 mile trip to get from our Redwoods location to Flaming Gorge. As we mentioned in our previous entry on the Redwoods, there are no interstates and a lot of two-lane roads coming out of that area and day one took us a few hours longer than expected because of the two-lane, narrow, curvy Highway 199 that took us from Crescent City, CA to Medford, OR. There was some construction that slowed down travel as well. We landed at Junipers Reservoir RV Resort that night just outside of Lakeview, OR. It is pretty remote and has just 40 spots, but it has a lovely view and rustic feel with full hookups.

Day 2 we traveled 230 miles to Winnemucca, NV. More curvy and hilly roads. So landing in Winnemucca was welcomed by both Joel and I. We just stayed at New Frontier RV Park: a clean, full hook-up park at a casino. Food and drinks were at the restaurant about 100 yards away. We were in and out early at this location (as were a lot of our neighbors).

Day 3 was REALLY challenging. It was nearly 400 miles and the destination was Echo Island RV Resort in Coalville, UT. First of all, the drive is pretty boring. There’s not much to see. Then there was about 50 miles of salt flats as we traveled east toward Salt Lake City. That was interesting at first, but we had no idea it would be 50 miles of that. Then we finally got to Salt Lake around 4. We only had just about 45 minutes left to drive but we decided to wash the truck and camper (the red drippings from the trees in the Redwoods really made the rigs look rough) at a Blue Beacon Truck wash. From start to finish, it took us 2 hours and 10 minutes to get through that line and get our rig washed. Not great! Hangry Amy appeared first, then came Hangry Joel. We needed a real meal but with no real choices, I opted for some hummus and some beef jerky. Joel had some beef jerky and then a salad when we finally arrived at our campsite. The good news is that we were able to sleep in a bit because we didn’t have far to go the next day.

Day 4 destination: Lucerne Campground at Flaming Gorge. This was the end destination we needed. As we rounded the corner through Manila, UT and saw the water and our campground, we had sweeping relief that this long trip was over. Then as we arrived to our site, which overlooked the water. That is a destination I would recommend over and over.

What to do at Flaming Gorge

Flaming Gorge is a reservoir along the northeastern corner of Utah. It is a part of the Green River that travels from Wyoming into Utah and eventually east to Colorado. The reservoir borders so close to Wyoming that you were in and out of Utah and Wyoming a handful of times from Manila about 5 miles to the Lucerne Campground.

What do you do at Flaming Gorge? If you’re into water sports, THAT’s what you do. Unfortunately, we were there for just four days and we had to work those days. Had we had more availability, we could have rented a boat at the marina for the day. I am sure there is some hiking as well. The stars are vivid out there. Joel captured what we think was the Milky Way during our stay.

We stopped at one restaurant during our time there, the Hub/Mustang Travel Stop. It was nothing worth sharing here, since we had to teach people how to make our drinks and the food wasn’t too great. It’s a good stop for fuel and they have a full liquor store there, however.

Mostly, we just enjoyed the best view of our trip so far: the water as far as the eye can see from left to right and mountains straight ahead and our dogs enjoyed swimming in the reservoir every day. Near the campground there was boondocking and there were some low cost (I think $14/night) campsites right on/near the beach. We left the Lucerne Campground via Highway 530 toward Green River, WY, which started another 4-day drive (over the Fourth of July holiday weekend). Along the way, we saw many boondockers along the west side of the Green River/Flaming Gorge Reservoir. I would highly recommend this location, which is about 45 miles south of I-80.