Ashley National Forest Scenic Byways
Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area
Scenic Byways and Backways are just that: a unique combination of cultural attractions, varied landscapes and recreational adventures. The Ashley National Forest offers two Scenic Byways and two Scenic Backways with magnificent views and experiences that you just can't get on the nation's interstate system. So if you have a bit of time and just plain aren't in a hurry to get from "here to there," check this out. You'll be glad you did.
This Scenic Byway crosses the Ashley National Forest from south to north (or vice versa if you want), traversing the zone between Vernal and Manila. You even get to cross the Flaming Gorge dam along the way, what have you got to lose? This route offers the greatest diversity in wildlife and wildlife habitat that Utah has to offer. There are information and interpretive facilities at Vernal in the Northeastern Utah Visitor's Center, at the Flaming Gorge dam itself, at the Forest Service office in Manila and at 14 other interpretive sites along the Byway. The "theme" of the Byway is "Wildlife Through the Ages." As this area is one of the richest areas for modern wildlife and for ancient fossils in America, the "theme" is very apt: throughout this drive you'll be going through 250 million years of exposed geology, seeing places where today's elk and deer are walking on ancient seashores embedded with the fossilized remains of the earliest dinosaurs. From the Frontier, Morrison and Chinle formations to the Mancos and Hilliard shales, you'll come across bighorn sheep wandering among the fallen logs of a petrified forest, there'll be golden eagles, goshawks and red flicker woodpeckers flying in skies that were once the domain of pterodactyls and archaeopteryx. The ancient sands and limestones that give so much color to countryside, that's where the rabbits and pronghorn wander through the seashells left on the bottom of an ancient ocean.
On the Red Cloud Loop
Red Cloud Loop Scenic Backway
This mostly dirt road is accessed from either State Road 121 northwest of Vernal, or US 191 (the Flaming Gorge - Uintas National Scenic Byway section) about 15 miles north of Vernal. This beautiful loop leads through brilliant sandstone canyons and into mixed forests of aspens and conifers interspersed with large meadow areas, all with great views of the High Uinta Mountains.
This Byway crosses the multi-colored terrain between Duchesne and Price, between the Uintah Basin and the San Rafael Swell. This route leads south from the southern edge of the Uintahs above the West Tavaputs Plateau and the Roan Cliffs. This is country filled with colorful, steep rock formations and high country covered by thick stands of conifers and aspen.
On the Red Cloud Loop
Sheep Creek Scenic Backway
This scenic backway gives you some breathtaking views of the high-rising, twisted and colorful geologic formations in the Sheep Creek Geological Area, adjacent to the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. This incredible area has Flaming Gorge to the north, the High Uintas to the west and Dinosaur National Monument to the east.