Utah's Under The Notch Region
Utah's Under the Notch Region
The red desert landscape under the notch (the northeastern area of our state) offers up some true golden nuggets. Take, for example, the Dinosaur National Monument just outside Vernal. It houses 1,500 fossilized dino bones naturally formed into one impressive wall at the Quarry Exhibit Hall. Not to be missed if you were ever fascinated by dinosaurs at one point or another in your life. (If you weren’t, we’re sorry you had an unfulfilling childhood.)
If you prefer more of an aquatic adventure, you’ll find a smattering of water bodies for that, too. Bask in boating bliss at Flaming Gorge, Red Fleet Reservoir, Steinaker Reservoir or Starvation Reservoir. Or, pull out your raft and fishing rod just below Flaming Gorge Dam, where the Green River offers up recreational opportunities aplenty.
All in all, when you’re under the notch, you’ll be over the moon about all the stuff there is to do.
How To Get Here
Driving Directions to Vernal
There’s really only one way to get yourself to the eastern-most corner of Utah: Find your way to U.S. 40. If you’re heading from the Salt Lake area, you’ll take I-80 up Parley’s Canyon and intersect with U.S. 40 on the other side. If you’re coming from the south, make your way to U.S. 191, which eventually intersects with U.S. 40. And voila — you’re in Vernal!
Directions to Flaming Gorge
This one’s real easy. Once you’ve made your way to Vernal, just head north on U.S. 191 for a spell. Flaming Gorge Dam is about an hour away.
Things To Do
Boating, fishing, paddleboarding and all the other water-related gerunds are doable at Flaming Gorge, Red Fleet Reservoir, Steinaker Reservoir and Starvation Reservoir. River rafting and fly fishing are all the rage on the Green River. But there are also great places to camp, hike and cavort under the notch.
You may not be aware, but the area outside of Vernal and Flaming Gorge provides a little haven for OHV enthusiasts. Great trails can be found in these parts. Just remember to strap on a helmet. Did we miss your favorite outdoor activity? There’s likely a spot to do it somewhere ‘round these parts. Here’s a handful of options to keep in mind:
- River rafting
- Mountain biking
- Rock climbing
- Wildlife watching
See something you like but don’t have the gear to get going? No problemo. You can find an outfitter ready to lend you a hand ... or some gear.
Under The Notch Region | Photo Gallery
Rock formation in Fantasy Canyon
Where To Camp
There are numerous places to rest your weary head in this area of Utah. Whether you’re looking for hard-to-find hideouts or toys-in-tow campgrounds, there’s always a spot to park your behind that matches whatever activity floats your boat.
DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT
Dinosaur National Monument happens to be in close proximity to the Green River, which offers up several excellent camping spots right next to the crisp, cool waters of the river. Dinosaurs are extinct, so no need to worry about them coming over and disturbing your sleep.
- Green River Campground: This campground is closest to Dinosaur National Monument Visitors Center and has dozens of scenic spots, with flush toilets, water and trash collection (all seasonal).
- Split Mountain Campground: A bit further north you’ll find Split Mountain, which offers similar amenities to Green River Campground, but also includes a boat ramp for rafters coming off the Green.
It may be called Starvation, but you’ll be satiated with activities here. These blue waters and remote beaches will bless boating and fishing enthusiasts with a little bit of heaven. And check out the annual walleye fishing tournament with catches weighing over 10 pounds.
- Lowe Beach & Mountain View Campgrounds: With lakeside access to Starvation, these two campgrounds have hookup sites with shower and restroom accommodations.
- Lakeside RV Campground: This RV site includes a private boat ramp and amenities like WiFi, a clubhouse, showers, restrooms and laundry facilities.
- Additional Campgrounds: You can find several other basic camping locations around the reservoir, including Indian Bay, Juniper Point, Rabbit Gulch and Knight Hollow, but these areas offer no services.
RED FLEET RESERVOIR
Located 10 miles north of Vernal, Red Fleet Reservoir features 750 acres of water and a fossil trackway of dinosaur footprints along its shores.
- Red Fleet Campground: This campground features 29 campsites with tables, grills and firepits. Several sites have electrical and water hook-ups, but there are no showers at this park. Two standing teepee tents are available for rent if you’re looking for a unique camping experience.
There are a couple dozen different campground sites scattered around Flaming Gorge. You’re so spoiled. While they’re all great options, here are a few in particular that we think you’ll really love.
- Canyon Rim Campground: This spacious campsite includes tables, fire rings, water and pit toilets. But what makes it really memorable are the amazing views of the gorge just a hop, skip and jump away. Red Canyon Lodge is close by if you want a restaurant meal or some ice.
- Mustang Ridge Campground: This campground is located half a mile away from the lake, nestled on a bluff with pinyon pines and juniper. Showers and trash collection are available and campsites on the edge of the ridge offer great views. A boat ramp adjacent to the campground provides convenient access to the lake.
- Hideout Canyon Campground: If you’re looking for something completely off the beaten path, you’ve found it. This campsite is a boat-in beauty that’s two miles from the nearest road and was once used by Butch Cassidy and his gang. Though it’s remote, it still offers flushing toilets, running water, fire rings and a boat dock.
Other Lodging Options
If you’re not interested in roughing it, you’ve got options. You’ll find a dozen different hotels and motels in town, including Dinosaur Inn, Ledgestone Hotel and Holiday Inn. If you’re looking for a spot near Flaming Gorge, consider Red Canyon Lodge. Nestled above the lake near Canyon Rim Trail, this resort features handcrafted log cabins, fine dining and private fishing areas. Don’t worry, you can pretend you roughed it. We won’t tell.
Enjoy your time under the notch. With all the red rocks and deserty vibes, you might feel like you’re in southern Utah. But nope, this place is its own unique slice of northern Utah wonderment
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