Northeastern Utah (Uintah County) is home to Flaming Gorge and Dinosaurland and offers visitors non-stop fun! Here’s a three day guide to this incredible area that includes outdoor adventures, great places to eat, and where to stay. This guide won’t be a set itinerary leaving flexibility to plan how you’d like.
Flaming Gorge Area
Paddling the Green River
The first activity that you’ll need to add to your itinerary is paddling the Green River. The best spot to start your float is right below the flaming gorge dam, the Spill Way Launch. If you start at this point, you’ll get 7 miles worth of beautiful river which will probably take you 2.5-3 hours to float.
Section A, which starts at the dam all the way to Little Hole, is the most popular part of the Green River. What I love about this part is that you don’t need to be a pro paddler, novice adventurers can enjoy it too! If you don’t feel quite comfortable doing it yourself, you’re welcome to hire a guide.
You can rent rafts, duckies (inflatable kayaks), boats, etc from any of these businesses.
Rent a boat at the Flaming Gorge Reservoir
Another water activity that you’ll need to add to your vacation is boating at the Flaming Gorge Reservoir! Head down to the Cedar Springs Marina to rent boats, pontoons, kayaks, paddle boards…you get the gist. You can also enjoy tubing, wakeboarding, wakesurfing and more while boating.
You can rent right on-site so you don’t need to worry about bringing your own mode of water transportation.
Here, you’ll find 90 miles worth of boating with 22 miles of which are inside of the gorgeous canyon. It was so neat to see the shift from red rock to sandstone while boating during the morning.
Want to turn this day adventure into an all nighter? Throughout the reservoir, you’ll find a lot of side canyons that have a boat dock that usually fits just one boat. Here, you’ll be able to spend the night either in your boat, on the dock, or the flat land nearby.
While visiting Flaming Gorge, you’ll want to dedicate at least one hour to taking in the view at one of the many outlook points. The famous and most photographed overlook is Red Canyon Overlook found near the Red Canyon Lodge. A few other incredible spots include Sheep Creek Overlook, Dowd Mountain Overlook, and the Flaming Gorge Dam Overlook.
Stay At The Flaming Gorge Resort
If you don’t want to bring your camper or tent, you have several accommodation options which include the Red Canyon Lodge, Dutch John Resort, and Flaming Gorge Resort. Here’s a full list of places you can stay in Flaming Gorge.
We stayed at the Flaming Gorge Resort and were so impressed! They have updated rooms, an amazing on-site restaurant and a central location.
Food in Flaming Gorge
Because of when we visited (right after COVID-19) not all restaurants were quite opened. However, the food that we did get to enjoy was outstanding! I can’t say enough about how great the food and service was at the Flaming Gorge Resort Restaurant.
Here’s a full list of all the great restaurants in Flaming Gorge area.
What absolutely blew me away was that in just under thirty minutes you can go from forest to desert! You really do get the best of both worlds in Northeastern Utah.
“”Dinosaurland” is the nickname given to this area of northeastern Utah due to the many dinosaur fossils that have been discovered and studied in the area.”- Dinoland.com
Visit Red Fleet State Park
A must-visit spot in Dinosaurland is Red Fleet State Park. In the reservoir you can enjoy a small beach, paddle boarding, kayaking, swimming, boating, fishing and even cliff jumping!
There are also camping spots and picnic areas that overlook this sandstone and desert landscape. A unique opportunity that you’ll find here is being able to rent a teepee from May to September. It’s only $30 dollars a night and you can reserve online.
Lastly, don’t miss the 200-million-year-old dinosaur tracks that you can easily hike to from here.
Visit Dina the Dinosaur (Vernal’s mascot)
A trip to Dinsosaurland is not complete without taking a photo with Dina! Dina dates back to the 50’s when it once belonged to a hotel but when that hotel shut its’ doors, they donated this pink dinosaur to the city. Dina now sits on the main road welcoming all visitors to the area.
Take A Trip To Fantasy Canyon
“Naturally weathered sandstone rises dramatically from clay beds, exposing fantastically colored and shaped formations 40 miles south of Vernal.”- BLM.gov
To get to Fantasy Canyon, you’ll need to drive south for about an hour. The last part of your trip is on an oil company service road. You might lose service while out there so be sure to follow the signs along the road in order to get to your destination.
You can take a self-guided tour by following the rock trail and reading the small signs that give you hints of what to look for. An example of one of these signs was “howling coyote” and then had an arrow of where you can see it. This would be a great game to play with kids!
Visit Remember The Maine Park
Honor the servicemen of the Maine while also enjoying the beautiful nature that this park has to offer! You’ll notice a giant American Flag painted about 75 feet up on a sheer rock cliff face in the Dry Fork Canyon.
There are picnic tables and even a short trail to a scenic river. This would be a great place to spend an afternoon by allowing your kids to play on the playground and maybe even taking a picnic!
Go Check Out Petroglyphs At McConkie Ranch
Although the McConkie Ranch is privately owned, the owners are gracious enough to open this area up to the public to enjoy. Because of which, please be respectful of the area and practice ‘leave no trace’ principles.
At this unique ranch, you’ll find 100’s of years old petroglyphs carved inside the side of beautiful red rocks. The trail is less than 1 mile long and is good for all skill levels.
Be sure to stop at the trailhead and go inside the small shack to leave your mark! There is a visitor sign-in sheet and guests have left ripped pieces of paper pinned to the walls with sweet notes and messages from where they’re from.
Stay At The Dinosaur Inn
The Dinosaur Inn is locally owned and operated and is centrally located in downtown Vernal. The rooms are clean and comfortable, the staff are incredibly friendly, AND they’ve got an awesome pool! Pro tip- Be sure to get a homemade cinnamon roll for breakfast!
Food in Vernal, Utah
There’s no shortage of great food in Vernal! You can get anything from Mexican, Italian, American, Chinese and more. Our favorite places included Antica Forma and Beachin’. A few other local favorites include the Taco Shack, Vernal Brewing Company, Corey’s Steak House and the 7-11 Ranch Restaurant.
Here’s a complete list of all the restaurants in Vernal, Utah.