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Monday, September 8, 2008

Driving, Dinosaurs, and a Dam

Rick Morgan
September 7, 2008

Today (Saturday) we decided to leave Steamboat Lake and head toward Flaming Gorge, Utah. On the way, we stopped at Pearl Lake State Park. Pearl Lake is a beautiful lake and has some very nice rustic camping sites – perhaps we will visit here next year. Flat tire on my mountain bike means an unscheduled stop in Steamboat to get it fixed, while there we stocked up on groceries. We drove west on Hwy 40 toward Craig and decided to spend the night in Yampa River State Park.

On Sunday, we continued our trip to Flaming Gorge. This Northwestern part of Colorado known as Dinosaur country. Years ago, we stopped at Dinosaur National Monument, and made a decision to stop there once more. The Dinosaur Quarry and Visitor Center is closed for “renovation” but we drove around, had lunch at Split Mountain, and found the Petroglyphs – the rock art of the Fremont culture. At Vernal we headed north on 191 toward Flaming Gorge. This was an exceptionally beautiful drive known as the Flaming Gorge/Uintas National Scenic Byway. The drive is a challenging climb and decent through 18 Geologic formations – basically, that means that we passed through about a billion years of Geologic history in 40 miles. On the journey, we almost “literally” ran into open range cattle crossing the road. I wonder what formation they belong to?

One of the highlights was seeing and touring the Flaming Gorge Dam. It rises 455 feet above the river and 47 feet below the river. While not as massive a dam as Hover – it is in a beautiful canyon and the reservoir is spectacular.

The most unexpected highlight was watching the Kokanee Salmon running up river to spawn. JoAnne took some very unique photos – they look like watercolors.

After a long day of driving, we ended up at the Lucerne Valley Campground, which was on the shore of the lake. Surprise! – We had Pronghorn in our campground. Time for a glass of wine and reflection of all we had seen today.