- Landscapes on the Ashley range from canyons to high desert to high mountains. The Uintah Mountains are the highest mountain range in Utah. Elevations on the Forest range from 6,000 feet to 13,528 feet. The Ashley includes noteworthy attractions such as Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, the Sheep Creek Geological Area, the High Uinta Wilderness, and portions of the Green River.
Copyright: USDA Forest Service
Rafting on the Ashley National Forest
In 1869, Major John Westly Powell, on expedition down the Green River, looked in awe at the magnificent country in what is now southwest Wyoming, and named it Flaming Gorge. Today the brilliant red cliffs are scenic attractions for thousands of visitors annually. The heart of the National Recreation Area is a 91-mile-long reservoir, created by the Flaming Gorge Dam. These famous angling waters have produced trout of state and world record size. With over 300 miles of shoreline, boat ramps, full service lodges and marinas, Lake Flaming Gorge is an aquatic paradise.
Sheep Creek Canyon and Sheep Creek Geological Area are located adjacent to the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. The Geological Area includes the Uinta Crest Fault, which represents millions of years of earth history.
The High Uintas Wilderness encompasses 460,000 acres of the Uinta Mountains and is the largest wilderness in Utah. Elevations vary from 8,000 feet in the lower canyons to 13,528 feet atop Kings Peak, the highest in Utah. Abrupt ridges divide the area into large, scenic basins interspersed with glacial moraines and drifts.
Recreation - Flaming Gorge is famous for its fishing but also offers excellent opportunities for motor boating, sailing, swimming, windsurfing, water skiing, and scuba diving. Ice fishing is a popular pastime in the winter. The Green River below the dam is boasted as one of the country's finest blue ribbon trout streams. Varied fishing opportunities are available in the lakes, streams, and reservoirs elsewhere on the Forest.
The Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area is also a popular boating and water sport area. Boat ramps and marinas are located at several sites around the Lake. There are 26 campgrounds in the immediate area of the Gorge, four of which are accessible only by boat. White water rapids and gorgeous canyon scenery lend to the popularity of river rafting below the dam.
Visitors will find campgrounds located throughout the Forest. Camping in undeveloped areas (outside of designated campgrounds) is permitted in many Forest areas.
Over 1,000 miles of trail exist on the Ashley National Forest providing visitors with access to backcountry and wilderness areas. Little Hole National Recreation Trail is located below Flaming Gorge Dam. Many roads and trails on the Forest are open to four-wheel drives, ATV's, and motorcycles.
Ample snow in the mountains make snowmobiling and cross-country skiing popular winter activities. A backcountry "yurt" sits four miles from the Flaming Gorge - Uintas Scenic Byway for overnight stays by cross-country skiers.
Climate - As throughout the region, climate on the Ashley National Forest varies greatly by season and with elevation. An average of about 40 inches of precipitation fall annually, mostly as snow in the winter. Temperatures in areas above 10,000 feet are seldom above 80 degrees during summer days. Night temperatures during summer are 30-40 degrees with freezing weather possible at any time in the high elevations. Summer afternoon thunderstorms are common and may occur with little warning.
The Ashley National Forest, with headquarters in Vernal, Utah, comprises 1.3 million acres located in the northeastern portion of Utah and southwestern portion of Wyoming. The Ashley includes portions of three major geographic areas: the Uinta Mountains, the Wyoming Basin, and the Tavaputs Plateau.