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Flaming Gorge – Green River Basin

The Flaming Gorge – Green River All-American Road rides along high ridges with views of fifty miles or more in any direction. US 191 and WY 530 touch lightly on the landscape as they roll, dip and twist across a dry, spartan, impossibly big-sky, and windswept land alongside the emerald water of the Flaming Gorge Reservoir, splendid fishing and water recreation resource. The “Wildlife Through the Ages” theme informs the visitor’s anticipation of the diversity they will experience as the windshield frames a landscape of muted earth tones against a vibrant blue sky.

A drive across this place encompasses the immense blue sky, brilliant white billowing clouds, multi-colored rock, and vast grasslands. The eastern segment of the byway, US 191, has been described as “a driver’s highway” that is “an absolute pleasure to drive.”

The byway perfectly showcases the virtues of the Wyoming Basin landscape for travelers. Characteristic features of the basin include hogbacks and cuestas, but it is mostly a series of basins (rock layers that have a bowl shape) broken up by low ridges. Far more striking than the ridges, which rarely rise more than 1,000 feet above the surface, are the deep canyons carved in the landscape by millions of years of erosion by streams and rivers originating in the nearby mountains.

As drivers leave Interstate 80 in their rear-view mirrors, the views are unlike most byway routes in the west in that they are continuously broad allowing visitors to see everything from the comfort of their car. About 30 miles into the drive, the outline of the Uinta Mountains emerges across, not parallel, to the byway roads. The Uinta Mountain range is the highest of the few east-west trending ranges in the contiguous United States with peaks ranging from 11,000–13,528 feet.

Today the byway offers some of the finest examples of watchable wildlife in the western United States. Roughly 390 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish can be found in the Green River Basin and surrounding mountains. The integrity and quality of the habitat within the byway corridor contribute to the plentiful wildlife, and the viewshed is virtually unobstructed. Sightings of wild horses, desert elk, and mule deer are common and a delight for byway travelers, but Pronghorn “antelope” outnumber people in Wyoming and are the most visible big game species from the road. Eons ago, however, there was a great inland lake, and when the turbulent waters drained away during the Tertiary period, 40 or 50 million years ago, the mixed sediments remained, forming a stratum known as the Green River Formation, valuable today for wonderfully detailed fish and plant fossils.

Recreational opportunities within the byway corridor are vast and dispersed. The Flaming Gorge Reservoir provides an outstanding resource managed as the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. Boating is popular on the reservoir where the views of multi-colored canyons and spires set against the changing colors of the water are stunning. Fishing in the Green River and the reservoir is internationally renowned.


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