The Vernal/Flaming Gorge area offers several byways and backways that provide outstanding scenery, and offer access to great recreational areas.
Sheep Creek/Spirit Lake Scenic Backway
The Sheep Creek Geologic Loop road follows Sheep Creek into the mountains west of Flaming Gorge Reservoir. It forks from Hwy 44 about five miles south of the town of Manila. It follows the visually dramatic Uinta Fault and then loops back to Hwy 44.
An interesting display of unique rock formations can be seen along the fault, including towering monoliths along with rock that has been fractured, jumbled, discombobulated.
A sizable herd of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep live in the Sheep Creek area and animals can often be seen from the road. Deer and elk are common here, along with other kinds of wildlife.
Sheep Creek and Browne lake are just short drives off the loop. Spirit Lake is accessible via a spur road. All of these lakes are popular fisheries. In addition, there are campgrounds, picnic areas and trailheads in this area.
The Sheep Creek Loop itself runs for about 13 miles. If you add spurs, you can take an extended trip on scenic backroads here.
Jones Hole Scenic Backway
The paved Jones Hole Road climbs over Diamond Mountain and then drops down to Jones Hole Creek, in a remote section of Dinosaur National Monument. Scenery is spectacular all along the route. Diamond Mountain offers small reservoirs teaming with trout. Hunting is a popular activity on the mountain. At Jones Hole you can visit the Jones Hole National Fish Hatchery, and hike along Jones Hole Creek as it cuts between sheer cliffs. There is a scenic waterfall here, along with interesting ancient Fremont Indian rock art.
Jones Hole is a clear stream that supports a healthy population of brown trout. It is overgrown and fishing can be difficult, but hefty browns reward the persistent angler. You can hike and fish the stream all the way down to its confluence with the Green River.
From Vernal, it is about 40 miles to Jones Hole, where the road dead ends - you return the way you came in.
Indian Canyon Scenic Byway
This route follows US 191 between the towns of Duchesne and Helper, in eastern Utah. It cuts through Ashley National Forest, climbing to an elevation of 9,100 feet above sea level. Mule deer, elk and other kinds of wildlife are often seen in this area. Camping, riding ATVs, hiking and hunting are popular activities here.
Nine Mile Canyon and its famous Fremont Indian rock art panels are close by, and make a fun side trip.
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