I left out of Vernal, Utah before 7am because I wanted to do the Red Cloud – Dry Fork Loop and get back in time to check out of my hotel and head into the Flaming Gorge Nat’l Recreation Area. The mountain scenery was fabulous as I rode up Route 191N to Forest Road 018 outside of Vernal. The kids would have loved the trip because at many points along the drive there were road signs that documented the type of geology present and its relation to dinosaurs and fossils. I’m sure that Alicia would have made me stop at the place that said “Crocodile teeth found here.” Check out my Blogroll for more info on this amazing area.
The Red Cloud – Dry Fork Loop is a mostly dirt road once in the Unitas Mountains. It was great for off-roading but some of the road got really twisty and narrow so I had to take my time. I was a bit nervous riding in the wilderness before 8 in the morning but I didn’t see much wildlife except cattle and the occasional deer. The descent into Dry Fork provided some greats canyon views and at the end of the loop you can stop at the McConkie Ranch for a real treat. The ranch has Native American petroglyphs that are world renowned, found all along 200-foot-high “Navajo Formation” sandstone cliffs. Trails take you up close and personal to view figures up to 9 feet tall. These figures represent the Fremont culture, which flourished in this area from about 1-1200 AD. My pictures hardly do them justice but one thing is clear… the people that drew them were mental!!!! I mean how else would you describe someone that climbs 200 foot cliffs to draw crap… Ever heard of paper dude 🙂
After checking out of my hotel I made my way north with my intention of getting to Pinedale, Wyoming that afternoon. This ride up 191 took me right through the heart of the Flaming Gorge Nat’l Recreation Area. I had heard good things about the gorge but nothing prepared me for the amazing vistas overlooking the gorge. My pics again fail to convey the sheer scale and beauty of the place. I left my bike in the parking lot and walked out to the edge of the gorge to one of the observation decks. Not a soul was around except for 3 deer. Standing 1300 feet above the gorge, I felt like I was the only person left on the planet… and it felt GOOD 🙂 I put my headphones on and hit play… my Sansa shuffled to “Better as a Memory” by Kenny Chesney… good song and perfect for the way I was feeling. I rested against the railing of the platform and listened to the whole song as I gazed out over the magnificent gorge. It really was peaceful… until I looked down over the edge and realized how high up I was… me no likey heights 🙂
The rest of my day was spent heading to Pinedale. Exiting the gorge area, the landscape gave way to vast plainfields that stretched for miles. As I neared Pinedale, the Wind River Range of the Wyoming Rockies came into focus and the vast number of peaks over 13,000 feet tall was beautiful to behold. So beautiful, in fact, that I pulled over to the side of the road and and gazed out at the mountains before laying down on my back on a pile of gravel. The sun was shining and it warmed my whole body… next thing you know, I am asleep on the side of the road!!!! I huge tractor trailor roaring by woke me from my nap and I hastily hopped back onto Juliette to finish the ride into Pinedale. As I walked down to the Wind River Brew Pub for dinner, I passed a real estate office and came very close to buying 20 acres of ranch property that bordered the national park! Seemed like a good idea at the time 🙂
BTW… don’t ever eat at the brew pub. Food sucked, service sucked and even the beer sucked. I’ve had better meals in prison!
Red Cloud – Dry Fork scenery
Rough road on the loop