Road Trips,  UTAH

Red Canyon Overlook, Road Trip Attraction

Red Canyon Overlook

Red Canyon Overlook and Flaming Gorge is one of the most underrated road trip destinations in the US. The drive is beautiful and shows all that North Eastern Utah has to offer. The Uintah Basin is an outdoors-man’s paradise, world-class fly-fishing, rock climbing, river rafting, hiking and national park quality landscapes without the crowds.

Paleontologist come here to study dinosaurs, as well as white water kayakers who love the challenge. It has historically acclaimed petroglyphs dating back hundreds, even thousands of years. Those instagrammers won’t know what hit them. This trip will offer unique photos that will have people asking. Where is that?

red canyon overlook


From Vernal, Utah, start on the corner of Vernal Ave which is also Highway 191, and Main Street. Cobble Rock Park will be at the southeastern corner. It’s a 41-mile drive that will take about 53 min. Head north on Vernal, Ave towards Rock Springs Wyoming, and drive roughly 38 miles. You’ll pass signs for Steinaker State Park Reservoir, Red Fleet State Park, and Oaks Park.

Make It a Road Trip

There are also signs along the way that will tell you all the geologic sites and discoveries found in the area For example, Chinle Formations, the Jurassic Curtis formation, home of the fossilized squid just to name a few. Yup, fossilized squid in the central United States. And the Carmel Formation, which contains alabaster from ancient tidal flats to name a few.

Look for trail head markers if you want to get out of the car. They’re mostly easy hikes for all stages and ages. If the temperature is high, even in the 70’s is considered high, bring plenty of water.

A dry climate can drain the electrolytes from your system pretty fast and you won’t feel it until it’s too late. Moreover, stay hydrated and don’t leave the path. This area can change dramatically and it’s easy to get lost if you don’t know the area.

red canyon overlook
The Trail

Red Canyon Overlook is one of my favorite road trip destinations. It’s a short path from the parking lot or camp ground to the view point. Camping is on a first come first serve basis and it’s free. Most importantly, free tends to lead to packed camp grounds so getting a reservation is key to getting a spot.
The number is 1-877-444-6777 (International 518-885-3639 or TDD 877-833-6777) or on-line here. For more information on regulations and camp details check out Red Canyon Campground on the Ashley National Forest site.

RV’s and Campers

There are dump stations for RVers locate at Antelope Flat, Deer Run, Firefighters, and Lodgepole. There is a fee based on seasonal demand. However, there aren’t not hooks ups for water, electricity, or sewer. Clink on the link for an Ebook guide for RV dumping with the largest list of locations available.

BLM or Bureau of Land Management is public land in the United States. It’s free to camp on BLM land but there are regulations and restrictions. Check out 7 Tips for Camping On BLM Land for more information.

red canyon overlookRed Canyon Overlook


It may feel unsettling to see cracks and fissures along the edge where it appears as if a piece of the cliff face is about to fall off. It’s quite safe, the cracks are erosion from water. Winter storms fill the sandstone, the water freezes and expands cracking the surface. No need to fear the side of the mountain is going to slide out from under you.




Red Canyon Overlook

The View

There’s a beautiful emerald green tone in the water that can be seen when the sun hits at the right angle. It’s apply named the green river for this very reason. The smoke was thick from this summers forest fires but along the shore that shamrock glow couldn’t be hidden under the cloud.

Red Canyon Overlook


Red Canyon Overlook

Boat Tours

Boat tours and rentals are available at Flaming Gorge Resort. The experience is breath-taking.

Red Canyon Overlook


Red Canyon Overlook

What to Expect

This tree was struck by lightning during a high desert thunderstorm. Red Canyon is North of Flaming Gorge which is a reservoir used to store large amounts of winter runoff for the locals down river. All of Utah gets about 8 inches of rain a year but Uintah county gets roughly 22 inches of snow each winter.

Being a desert region holding water stores is vital for our communities. Red Fleet State park and Steinaker State Park are both reservoirs that serve the area and are great for boating, fishing, and escaping that summer heat.

red Canyon Overlook


This gorgeous blue jay is a resident of the Red Canyon Overlook. Other sightings include mountain goats, elk, and deer. Moose can be seen during certain seasons. Don’t feed or approach any of the animals. They may be used to human presence but they are still wild animals.

Bridge Overlook

Another ideal stop on the Flaming Gorge road trip, is the Flaming Gorge bridge overlook, which true name is the Cart Creek Bridge. There are kayak or paddle board rentals to take up this creek that feeds the reservoir. It’s a picturesque trip without dozens of people to take photos around. And often times, you can get this all to yourself.

The bridge is always a must stop for selfies.

HERE is the link to a Google Map with directions from Vernal, Utah to the Red Canyon Visitor Center.

As per usual, I took way more pictures than I could possibly post on here so if you’d like to see more I have several accounts that I’ve posted more images on.

P interest

Happy Travels
See You Out There
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  • Lana

    This is definitely an intersting post! I become more intersted to do BLM camping. I don’t know you can do that on the red canyon site! I thought it would be like, I don’t know, camping (?) Thank you so much for sharing such an amzing post and you take a lot of great pictures! I hope in Spain we also have BLM camping so I can do that here. I can’t imagine to wake up on such a beautiful view and sleep qui..tly. Does it kinda crowded for doing BLM camping?

    • NJKuhr

      Red canyon has camping, but it’s part of Ashley National Forest not BLM so it’s regulations are different. I’ve been camping on BLM land my whole life and rarely didn’t have the whole place to myself. During hunting season certain areas can get crowded but it’s mostly open.
      I know Spain has designate areas for camping, it’s not called BLM but Article 46.1 of the order for July 28th states that, “Apart from tourist camp sites no more than three tents or caravans may be placed at the same location, nor should there be more than 10 campers, nor may the camp be in place for more than three days. Tents and (caravans) within 500 meters of each other are considered to be part of the same group.” Other locations in Spain are restricted and certain parks have different rules, so it depends on where in Spain you want to camp.

  • Julai

    My husband and I love going to vacation. But with 2 small kids, our family vacation is now turn into road trips as we call it. Instead of getting out of the car and staying in a certain spot to enjoy the view, etc, we end up just taking the car and just driving while enjoying the view and we do this especially if the certain spot has a lot of people and if we find it difficult to get tthrough the crowd with a baby stroller.

    • NJKuhr

      This is the perfect place for you, The crowds are small, and so spread out you usually get the place mostly to yourself. There are hiking trails if you want them but everything is right there and easy to see from your car if you don’t want to get out. Red canyon has side walked pathways so a stroller is easy peasy. It’s one of the prettiest drives in the western US any time of year. It gets all four seasons too, so if you prefer summer skies, fall colors, winter snow, or even spring flowers this place has it all.

  • Paolo

    We’re planning our Grand Canyon trip. And we have included Colorado river rafting and Havasu Falls in our itinerary. And we were considering also to include Red Canyon overlook. We’re glad we visited your site, because it’s now a “must”. We can’t wait to have those bridge selfies. Thank you for your advice.

    • NJKuhr

      Red Canyon overlook is in Northern Utah on the border of Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah, about a nine hour drive from the Grand Canyon, but if your going to go through Las Vegas, Red Rock Conservatory and/or The Valley of Fire are great alternatives that wont take you so far out of your way.

  • Jackie

    This is probably already a sought of destination rather than a trip as one can do so much than just drive through or stop for a few minutes. I mean one can have a good kayaking or boat ride and also take awesome pictures on the bridge before crashing at the resort. It’s fantastic.

  • CeCemorgan

    Hi Norma Jean, Flaming Gorge is absolutely beautiful! I am in need for a nice getaway. I would love to just visit Flaming George relax and enjoy nature. The blue bird is thought to be a symbol of joy and happiness and is a residence of the Red Canyon! Thats a sign in itself to me! Flaming George is definitely on my bucket list. Oh yeah Norma, thanks for exposing your secret on cheap travels!

    • NJKuhr

      I didn’t know that. Now, I love that bird even more. Flaming gorge has it all, boating, petroglyphs, rafting, kayaking, hiking, paddle boarding. The lodge has a great burger, we drive up all the time just to eat there. The catch of the day comes from the river so if you enjoy fish I’d suggest that. The drive alone is worth it. Let me know if you have any questions or are looking for reservations and I’ll send you all the details.

  • Richard

    The views are so beautiful at Red Canyon. Maybe today isn’t the right day for me but looking at these scenic views makes me feel a longing for some nature. I’m not sure if visiting this place can be done on a day trip or it requires some camping overnight? I live very far away from the US, being in Asia. So such magnificent nature is far from my reach. One can only watch it in movies or photos like these. Thanks for sharing, I am so glad I chanced upon this.

    • NJKuhr

      If you’re going to make a trip I suggest 2 days in the Uintah county and then one for each of the five national parks in Utah. It’s the third most photographed state in the US. You may come to visit and choose to stay. There’s dinosaur national monument, capital reef national park, bryce national park, canyonlands national park, zion nation park, and arches national park. If there’s time I’d also suggestion Bear Ears national monument and the Grand canyon. I’d do it road trip style to get the full experience.

  • Ramah

    Hey. thank you for sharing this beautiful road trip, personal I never imagine how this is so beautiful, I have heard this place before but I didn’t search for any detail, one of the things, make me shock to see is the beautiful valleys on Red Canyon, I have already saved this site for more research to this amazing place.

    Thank you so much for introducing this place to me

    • NJKuhr

      Absolutely, Uintah county is one of Utah’s secrets, we have several national parks that get most of the attention so this area is someone unknown. It’s the beauty without the crowds.

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