The Ashley National Forest is located in the northeastern portion
of Utah and is comprised of 1,287,909 acres. There are 68
developed campgrounds of which 33 meet the selection criteria.
The Ashley National Forest offers very two different forest experiences. There is that part of the Ashley that just about everyone has heard of, Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, with the Flaming Gorge Reservoir's 350 miles of shore, and a wide variety of camping locations, plus the trophy fishing and whitewater experiences on the Green River. The less well-known part is tucked into the southern canyons and valleys of the High Uinta Mountain Range and offers the quiet and solitude that can only be found in an undiscovered forest. While Flaming Gorge offers spectacular views and unlimited water sports, the recreation and forest experiences found in the Uinta Mountain portion of the Ashley, is equal to outdoor experiences found anywhere. In other words, Ashley National Forest is a forest for everyone.
It is hard to believe, driving along the U.S. Route 40, that there is anything but sagebrush and rolling countryside nearby. But to the north the profile of the High Uinta Mountain Range lines the horizon. A unique mountain range for Utah, the mountains run east to west and are older than the nearby Wasatch Mountain Range. From a distance, the Uinta Mountains are reminiscent of the mountains found in Virginia and Georgia but, just as distance can be deceiving in the West, so are appearances. Up close the Uinta Mountains are everything Western range is known for: rugged topography, magnificent lakes, and breathtaking beauty.
The Ashley National Forest campgrounds found in the High Uinta Mountain's southern canyons have some things in common. First, the drive to any of them is long, first across a sagebrush-covered prairie, then along a conifer-lined dirt roadway up a canyon, is long. Second, these campgrounds would be considered "rustic" and best suited to car and tent camping, but scenic beauty and quiet tranquil setting are the reward for the long drive. Three, these canyon campgrounds, such as Yellowpine, Moon Lake, and Uinta Canyon, have yet to be discovered so quiet and solitude reign.
The Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area (NRA) campgrounds are a different story. Flaming Gorge NRA has been a popular vacation spot for more than thirty years and many of the Forest Service campgrounds have been around at least that long. Know for its geological beauty since Major John Powell past this way and gave the gorge its name, Flaming Gorge welcomes visitors from around the world to hike, bike, camp, and enjoy water play activities that range from fly-fishing on the Green River to water-skiing on the Reservoir.
It can also be said, Ashley's Flaming Gorge NRA has two different characteristics. The northern portion of the NRA is true high desert with vast expanses of sagebrush as far as the eye can see. Here, the campgrounds feature access to the bright blue waters of Flaming Gorge Reservoir but are not equal in their attractiveness to campers. There are Buckboard (a.k.a. Buckboard Crossing) and Antelope Flat campgrounds which offer basic facilities, a boat ramp, no shade and a neglected appearance. And then there are Firehole and Lucerne Valley campgrounds. Firehole must have been named for the temperatures seen in the area around August or perhaps for the awesome and colorful rock formations that surround the campground. Whatever the reason, Firehole is an often overlooked campground right at the Reservoir's edge that does have shade from both uniquely constructed communal ramadas and numerous Russian Olive trees. Lucerne Valley campground with flush toilets and some electric hook-ups, is a step up from most campgrounds in the NRA.
The southern part of the NRA is composed of high mountains covered with juniper and Ponderosa pines, where most campgrounds overlook Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Firefighters Memorial campground meanders and loops over several pine topped knolls offering splendid views of the bright blue water below. Far enough above the water's surface, shimmering boats below make no more noise than osprey gliding above. But perhaps the most magnificent views of the Gorge are found at Canyon Rim campground. Canyon Rim is a sweet little campground (on the way to the breathtaking scenic Red Canyon Visitor Center - a MUST SEE) with perhaps the best tent campsites in the NRA. Nearly a dozen tent-only sites along the canyon's rim provide the best views from an NRA campsite. A favorite feature found at both campgrounds are hiking trails: Canyon Rim Trail at Canyon Rim; and Bear Canyon/Bootleg Trail at Firefighters Memorial. Both trails offer a wonderful way to explore and enjoy the Ashely National Forest's better known section, Flaming Gorge NRA, without having to deal with the crowds.
Two special features of the Ashley National Forest are what can be found just a short distance from the Forest - Dinosaur National Monument and several scenic and interpretative auto tours. A full day trip from Flaming Gorge NRA campgrounds, Dinosaur's Quarry displays an ancient sandbar with the greatest number of dinosaur fossils ever found in the United States. This two-story tall rock is a most impressive sight for young and old. The auto tour to Josie Morris' Cabin illustrates the dynamic forces of the area and activities of humans even before Columbus discovered the Americas.
Between Vernal and Manila, Utah is the "Wildlife Through the Ages" National Scenic Byway. Along with a "Wheel of Time" interpretative guide available at the Visitor Center, signs along the route help visitors understand and appreciate the dynamic of the area. "Sheep Creek Geological Loop", south of Manila and off State Route 44, is a course in the area's geology. And "Indian Canyon Scenic Byway," along State Route 191 between the Uinta Basin and San Rafael Swell near Price, Utah, offers a view of the area's diverse beauty and wonders.
The many wonders of the Ashley National Forest are not well known. It is a Forest that offers a wonderfully, well-rounded variety of recreational opportunities for all. From water-skiing on the bright blue Flaming Gorge Reservoir to white-water rafting on the Green River, canoeing Moon Lake with the High Uintas Wilderness on three sides to ATVing along the forest's roads near Fossil Ridge, or enjoying the night sounds of a campsite along Uinta River, the Ashley has these activities and so much more. There is much to enjoy in Ashley National Forest; it will take more than one visit to this forest of high desert and lush mountain peaks.
355 North Vernal Ave.
Vernal, Utah 84078
RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES
85 West Main
Duchesne, Utah 84021
Intersection Hwy. 43/44
Manila, Utah 84046
244 West Hwy. 40
Roosevelt, Utah 84066
355 No. Vernal Ave.
Vernal, Utah 84078