The beaches of ol’ Flaming Gorge

Days nine and ten of my Fall 2016 border-to-border road trip

Following my lovely but damp night spent along the Grey’s River in Wyoming, I headed south on scenic highway 89, then across the dusty plains to Green River.  From there I headed south along the western flank of Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area.  The recreation area centers around the 91-mile long Flaming Gorge Reservoir; a huge, anomalous body of water occupying red sandstone canyons.  According to Wikipedia, the name “Flaming Gorge” was attributed to John Wesley Powell during his 1869 exploration of the Green River, in reference to the bright red sandstone cliffs lining the gorge.   The reservoir was created by a dam across the Green River in 1964, and is used to generate electrical power.  It also provides recreation and water for wildlife.

As for me, I was looking for some sunny skies and a camp on the beach, and I found it along the reservoir near the Wyoming/Utah border.   There was a dispersed camping area near the Lucerne access.  Some RV’s were camped in an adjacent cove, but I found a large stretch of beach that I had all to myself.  That is, if you don’t count the 3 pronghorn bucks also wandering around the beach.  Beach bucks.

Two of the pronghorn bucks that let me share their beach.
Two of the pronghorn bucks that let me share their beach.

The bucks didn’t hang around very long, slowly moving up into the hills surround the reservoir.  After they left, Shadow and I wandered the beach, looking for tracks, watching a solitary loon on the water, and enjoying the sunshine and occasional calls of Ring-billed Gulls.  As dusk approached, I pulled out my stove and started cooking dinner.  Just then a large RV with a toy hauler arrived on the beach, and parked less than 50 yards from my campsite.  They immediately cranked up the music and pulled an ATV out of the toy hauler and started doing donuts in the sand.  I’m not a fan of ATVs (to put it mildly), and really resented the intrusion on my idyllic beach setting.  There were plenty of other places they could have parked their RV that weren’t so close to me.  So as soon as I finished dinner, I threw everything in the CR-V and moved as far as I could down the beach and set up a new camp.  It was almost out of earshot of the RV’s music.  I set up my recording equipment, hoping to record some nice, lapping waves, if the RV campers shut down their generators.

With my beach vibe mostly restored, I was able to enjoy the rising of a beautiful full moon through light clouds.  It was a lovely evening, with waves gently kissing the shore.  The waves quickly lulled me to sleep.  I awoke at around midnight – the generators were silent and the waves were lapping louder than before.  I switched the recorder on, and listened as the waves continued to increase in frequency and complexity.  I heard no boats on the lake, and couldn’t help but ponder of some of the wave action wasn’t due to the full moon.

The waves eventually lulled me back into a deep sleep.  I woke in time to watch the sunrise, then packed up and hit the road before the ATVs took over the beach again.   Following a surprisingly lovely trip through the mountains just south of the reservoir, which included a scenic geology loop and a stop at a rock art site, I loaded up on pancakes at a diner in Vernal, Utah, then hit the road for Colorado.

After a stop in Grand Junction for gas, I headed down highway 141, a beautiful scenic road along the Delores River and high mesas of southwestern Colorado.  I pulled off to camp in a remote area near Disappointment Creek.  It was a lovely spot, with incredible views.

The view from my camp near Disappointment Creek.
The view from my camp near Disappointment Creek.

It was a very quiet place to camp.  Really, really quiet.  The type of quiet that seems to suck the sound out of the air.  All I heard all night were the very soft and distant sounds of coyotes and a family of Great Horned Owls.  And the soft footsteps of a bunny checking out the microphone.   All pushing the limits of the recorder, emphasizing the noise from the mics.  So from a sound recording perspective, the camp was a disappointment, but it was a nice, quiet spot to sleep and enjoy a morning hike.

Next: my border-to-border tour finishes up in New Mexico.

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