July 2, 2020 Vernal, CO to Manila, UT

We had a leisurely morning because our drive today was only 63 miles to Manila, UT and Flaming Gorge. We got ready and left around 11:30. The first part of our drive would take us on the same road we took yesterday when we went to scout it out ahead of today’s drive. Some of the following pictures might be similar to the ones you saw yesterday, but it’s just so beautiful that I couldn’t resist taking a few more pictures.

Because we were on a constant uphill climb and only going 30 mph according to the speed limit most of the time, I was able to snap a few more pictures of those interesting informational signs.

We finally reached an elevation of 8,358 ft. which was above the treeline.

This flag was flying near the top where someone placed it on a rock with a solar light. How appropriate for the 4th of July.

Then we did some up and down among the pine forests and alpine meadows.

There was a little bit of traffic going in our direction and luckily, there was a passing lane every now and then, otherwise, there would have been a string of cars following behind us for miles. We finally reached the summit at an elevation of 8,428 ft. It was all downhiill to Manila from there. Highways 191 and 44 are considered the Flaming Gorge Uintas Scenic Byway from Vernal to Manila and it was very scenic.

In the upper forest, three were a couple of campgrounds located there. I bet they could really see the stars at night. We finally entered Flaming Gorge Recreation Area.

Flaming Gorge straddles Wyoming and Utah with 3/4 of the lake in Wyoming. Flaming Gorge Lake is 91 miles long and 436 feet deep at its maximum depth. We passed the entrance to the Flaming Gorge Dam and Visitor Center.

The road took us above the gorge and I waited for a good view of the water, but we were deep in the forest. It was down there somewhere.

We did see the snow-capped tops of some mountains off to the west that were at 12,000-13,000 ft. tall. I could see their elevations listed on the map.

As we slowly made our descent into the ravine, we began to get outstanding views of the river gorge.

Approaching it from above was breathtaking! When we looked back at the road we traveled on already, we could see how it was cut into the side of the hillsides.

With an 8% grade downhill, we took it very slow which gave us many opportunities to view the river gorge.

The red rock and white hills were in stark contrast to the azure blue water below.

The road you can see below leads to a campground at Sheep Creek Bay and a boat launch.

The road ahead of us would take us to the town of Manila where we are staying for the next 4 nights.

The drive was beautiful.

It cut through these rocks to give us our first view of Manila below.

We coasted down the hill to Manila at 62 mph, the fastest we went all day.

We arrived at the Manila KOA campground at 1:15 and checked in.

This KOA also has a teepee to rent. I’d love to see what they look like inside.

We backed into site C7 which backed up to some shade trees and a nice grassy area for Auggie.

From our site on the side of a hill, we have a view of Flaming Gorge through our side window.

The campground is tucked into the end of a canyon with rock walls on two sides. This is our view out of the front window.

The campground will be full this weekend for the 4th of July. Many campers already arrived after we did. Each row backs up to the trees and grassy areas.

We look forward to exploring the Flaming Gorge area tomorrow and for the next 3 days. Unless someone cancels their reservation for boat rental at the nearest marina, we won’t be able to rent a boat and check out the gorge by water. I guess we didn’t do enough pre-planning for that, but maybe Bob will be able to do some fishing. He would enjoy that. We just chilled the afternoon hours away. It was a great day with an 80 degree temp, sunshine, and a cool breeze. Even though the drive was short and went slowly, it took a lot of concentration on Bob’s part to do the drive in the mountains and that’s just plain tiring. We’ll be all rested for whatever adventure we choose to do tomorrow.

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