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Unique Boating Destination

Flaming Gorge – A Boating Paradise

If you haven’t yet boated Flaming Gorge, you are missing out. This 91-mile reservoir, established in 1962, is located within a diverse geologic region that is as dramatic as it is beautiful. Spanning from the mountainous forests, benches, and canyons of northeastern Utah to the rolling sage prairies of southwestern Wyoming, its position within the narrow course of the Green River presents boaters with endless opportunities to explore glassy waters in isolation. From water sports, cruising, fishing, and paddling, the potential for fun on this picturesque reservoir is unlimited.

    Finding Glass is easy around Hideout Draw.                                                                                                         Photo Ryan Kelly


The guarded position of the lake set low within narrow canyons makes Flaming Gorge a prime destination for water sports. As water temperatures climb into the 70s by late summer, water skiing, wake boarding, and jet skiing are extremely popular here. Access to this colorful playground has been made easy via any number of boat launches, campgrounds, and marinas surrounding the lake.


The deep and fertile waters of the lake have also made it one of the premier fisheries in the United States where trophy fish are reeled in year after year. Seasoned anglers from around the globe troll for brown and lake trout as well as kokanee salmon at depth. Families cast for rainbow trout and smallmouth bass closer to the surface.



Kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddleboards offer a peaceful and quieter way to explore Flaming Gorge, and have grown in popularity in recent years. From short jaunts to multi-day excursions, you can build a paddling adventure of any size.


Paddle through unique geological formations.                                                                                             Photo Ryan Kelly


It’s recommended to start from the Lucerne Marina and cross the open waters of Linwood Bay south to the peaceful and wake-free zone of Horseshoe Canyon. From Sheep Creek Bay you can paddle east to Kingfisher Island. Keep your eyes peeled for herons and egrets. And from Cedar Springs Marina, follow the south shoreline into the wake-free Cart Creek Canyon for a great excursion that takes you beneath the suspended Cart Creek Bridge.  


But you really can’t go wrong with whatever activity or route you choose. From its deserts to its mountains, Flaming Gorge offers numerous vistas that are not to be missed. On the north end of the lake above the confluence of the Black Fork, be sure to check out the Firehole Canyon, where stone pinnacles of North and South Chimney Rocks, remnants of an ancient volcano, tower over the surrounding sage-covered badlands.


flaming gorge, boating, at lucerne valley marina

Bask in the glow of the Flaming Gorge.                                                                                                             Photo Ryan Kelly


Southwest of Linwood Bay is the area after which Flaming Gorge was named. Despite the actual gorge being submerged below the lake’s surface, one can still see the sunlight reflecting off the varnished red and orange sandstone above. Horseshoe Canyon, a side canyon of Sheep Creek Bay, is an incredible looping canyon that takes you through a narrow waterway with striking cliffs looming high on both sides. The gorgeous Red Canyon begins south of Kingfisher Island and runs to the dam. This narrow section of Flaming Gorge is where the water course turns east and makes its way beneath craggy walls of quartzite that loom 1,400 feet above the lake’s surface. Bighorn sheep are often seen grazing among these burgundy cliffs.


Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area also has several campgrounds so you can extend your adventure along the shores. The campgrounds range from fully developed sites with tables, fire rings, water, and toilets, to primitive sites that have few or no amenities. Opting for one of the scenic boat-to camps on Fisher Island in Hideout Draw or deep in Red Canyon is highly recommended. Either will give you an experience not commonly found in the Intermountain West.


Camp on the water.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Photo D. Wilkenson


Boaters and paddlers also have the option of primitive camping or anchoring somewhere along the 350 miles of Flaming Gorge’s shoreline. With so much space, you are certain to find solitude within this stunning environment. Check out Carter Creek and Trail Creek in Red Canyon for some particularly beautiful and secluded sites.


Flaming Gorge is a National Recreation Area requiring a day-use fee. Visitors may purchase passes at various kiosks surrounding the lake and at the campgrounds, marinas, and boat launches. There are nine boat launches and three full-service marinas from which to begin your boating adventures. House boats, power boats, fishing boats, tug boats, canoes, pontoons, kayaks, and paddleboards are all great options for exploring the vastness of Flaming Gorge. Reservoir visitors will need to inspect their boats for invasive mussels and weeds before launching.


Find a smile that lasts a lifetime.                                                                                                                          Photo Ryan Kelly


Boat rentals are available at the three marinas: Buckboard Crossing Marina on the north end, Lucerne Marina toward the center, and Cedar Springs Marina near the dam. All the marinas at Flaming Gorge offer supplies, fuel, and boat rentals. Gas can be found at any of the marinas and at the dam (diesel is not available).


Whether you come for the water sports, the fishing, or the elbow room, boating on Flaming Gorge offers everyone a chance to unwind and experience the same magical light, color, and country that John Wesley Powell’s Expedition found nearly a century and a half before.



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