July 18 - Today we changed campground moving to the Buckboard Crossing CG and Marina in the Flaming Gorge area (Reservoir) near Green River in Wyoming. Here we had made reservations for two nights but enjoyed the place so much that we stayed for a total of six nights, as our next reservation was not until then, at Lucerne Campground near Manila in Utah. So, while at Buckboard Crossing we took several day trips to the Wild Horse Loop and Pilot Butte, to the Seeksadee Wildlife Refuge and to the Red Canyon Lodge and area. The prettiest was the latter, which was actually the first. We wanted to go back to this one as we had only covered about one half of the area, but since we would be nearer to it when at Lucerne CG we decided to see other things nearby and return to it later from Lucerne CG. The beauty of Wyoming is characterized by its immense contrasts. It is like going to the Louvre and studying a great work of art. You can see the same landscape twenty times and each time you see it differently, picking up different highlights. The landscape transforms from dry desert-like conditions and then changes suddenly to deep green scenes of pine trees and abundant grass, as well as from horizontal expanses of dry undulating savannahs of sage and scrub brush to vertical expanses of high mountains and deep crevices with distant but huge waterways far below. The Flaming Gorge Dam (completed in 1964), named for the Flaming Gorge Canyon just upstream, created a 96-mile long reservoir on the Green River. The dam was built as part of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Colorado River Storage Project. The dam itself is in Utah but most of the reservoir is in Wyoming and supplies both hydropower and tourism to the town of Green River, WY as well as helping to equalize river flows, storing water in wet seasons or years for release during dry periods. The first inhabitants of this area are said to be the people of the Fremont culture, who were displaced around 1000 AD by the Comanche, Shoshone and Ute Indian tribes. The first white men to arrive to this area were probably fur trappers beginning in the early 1800s, which included William Ashley and his party who explored the Green and Colorado rivers by boat and trapped beaver there for several years in the 1820s. The area includes vast species of wildlife including moose, big horn sheep, antelope, elk, bears, mountain lions, marmot and many others, many of which we have been lucky enough to see and photograph.
July 19 – Having met a very nice couple from Lodi, Ca. (a Fire Captain and his wife) who were camped near us, we were referred to Red Canyon by the photos they had just taken there. So on this day we opted to go to Red Canyon, which was the site of some of our best photos (as you will see). Bill, who is not afraid of heights walked right up to the edge of the canyon wall with a drop off of about 1300 feet straight down. He even clowned around with jumping over the crevasses, which Mary was able to snap a photo of.
The Red Canyon was formed some 60 million years ago during the uplift of the Wind River Range to the west. As the sedimentary rocks tilted, the more easily erodible rocks were removed by the action of the water, creating the canyon as it is seen today. The long grass-covered slopes on the west-side of the canyon are part of the Permian Phosphoria formation, a marine deposit composed of limestone, sandstone, dolomite, siltstone, bedded chert and phosphorite. The less-resistant rocks above the chert were eroded. The bottom of the canyon and the lower 300 feet of the east side are eroded into the Triassic Chugwater formation. This consists of brick red sandstone, shale and siltstone, which being less resistant to erosion was removed from the underlying Phosphoria chert. The bright red color of the Chugwater is due to a great amount of oxidized iron between and on the grains of the rock. Besides its interesting geologic history, the canyon also provides important wildlife habitat for elk, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, big horn sheep, and many other small mammals and vast species of birds. Hunting, fishing (lots of trout and salmon) and viewing scenery are popular recreational uses of the canyon. There are many RV’ers in Wyoming, though 5th wheels and travel trailers (as well as tent camping) seems the norm in this part of the country. So far, the Red Canyon has been the (positive) highlight of our trip, and it may be due for a re-visit another year.