July 24-26, 2017
Marcy and Isaac planned an extended family vacation to the Flaming Gorge Dam area. The plan was to camp for two nights near Flaming Gorge, then two nights near the Dinosaur Quarry by Jensen, Utah. We also planned on floating the river. This trip report covers just the first half of the week, around Flaming Gorge.
The only ones that could go for the entire trip included Marcy’s family, her in-laws (Barry & Karla), and my wife (Kim) and I. Barry and Karla rode with us to save on gas costs.
We left home Monday morning, July 24. We stopped for a lunch break at the Fort Bridger Historic Site. We spent a few hours there looking at the old buildings and farming equipment. It kind of reminded us of the Lloyd farm in Star Valley, WY.
As we got closer to Flaming Gorge, it was obvious that it had recently rained. On past trips, we have suffered from the heat and lack of shade, so this time we got campground reservations at the highest elevation campground – Lodgepole. I think the campground is at around 8000’ elevation. It is a pretty nice campground with flush toilets, but it is adjacent to the highway so there was a lot of traffic noise.
We set up camp and ate dinner. The kids enjoyed playing on the trailer ramp and with our fox tail ball toss. We feared rain, so we set up my rain fly – and it was a good thing we did.
During the night, it got fairly windy for a while, and then the rain came. It didn’t rain too hard, but it rained steadily through the night and much of the next day.
Our original plan was to run the Green River from the dam down to Little Hole, but with the rain, we decided to postpone for one day, and instead, go take a tour of the dam.
The tour was interesting, but our tour guide got some of her facts mixed up. The kids enjoyed feeding the fish at the bottom of the dam.
On the way back up the elevator, our tour guide asked if there were any more questions. Luke, in his cute little voice, said; “no”. He says no to everything. I am not sure if the guide knew who said it or not, but it was pretty funny.
We then drove out to Red Canyon Overlook and took a short hike. Sophie had fun collecting pine cones, and we studied some of the different types of trees.
The rain let up a bit, so we ate lunch West Greens Lake.
We returned to camp for a fabulous Dutch Oven dinner. We also inflated the raft and inflatable kayak, getting ready for the next day.
On Wednesday morning we broke camp, loaded the raft on top of the gear in the trailer, and headed to the put-in below the dam.
We thought the storm would move out by early morning, but it was still drizzling rain while we rigged the boat and waited for Kim and Isaac to drive shuttle.
Barry and Karla put on their wet-suits and took first turn in the inflatable kayak. Everyone else sought shelter under my raft umbrellas.
Aspen wasn’t so sure about this whole thing, so she snuggled inside a towel to keep warm. Sophie seemed quite content wrapped in her dad’s raincoat. She played in the water and climbed on the raft while waiting to launch, and then had fun looking for fish in the river as we floated down.
It didn’t take long before Sophie wanted a turn at rowing the raft. She picked it up pretty quickly. And so, a fourth-generation river rat is born.
After stopping for lunch, Aspen started to perk up. She enjoyed playing on the beach, and it was getting warmer.
Isaac and Sophie traded Barry and Karla for the inflatable kayak (IK). Sophie loved it! She was laughing and giggling and had a great time. During the calmer water in the last few miles, Aspen even wanted a ride in the IK. The weather continued to improve, which brightened everyone’s spirit.
The river was running at about 2400 cfs, so the rapids weren’t too bad. It took us about 2 hours to float. During typical late summer flows, it could take around 5 hours if there is any wind.
After arriving at Little Hole, we quickly drove shuttle to get the other vehicle. Isaac drove back to the Visitor’s Center to find Jarem and his family while I headed back to pick up the raft.
It was late afternoon when Jarem’s family started their run down the river. Once they were done, we loaded up and headed to our new camp at Green River Campground near the Dinosaur Quarry. Jamie and Hannah were already there, and were anxious for us to bring their dinner. We had a very late dinner that night, eating in the dark.
This story continues in the “Split Mountain Trip Report.”