The Ashley National Forest in northeastern Utah and southwestern Wyoming has over 1.3 million acres of wooded wonderland including 300 miles of shoreline where you can do some boating, fishing, swimming, and other water activities. If you would rather stay on dry ground, you can find over 1,000 miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as more than 1,100 miles of ATV trails to explore and enjoy.
The forest includes 276,175 acres of High Uintas Wilderness which is unspoiled by civilization with no roads. However, you can hike, bike, take an ATV, or go on horseback from any one of the many trails that take you through there. One of the main features of the Ashley National Forest is the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, which has over 200,000 acres of land and water including the Flaming Gorge Reservoir. From fishing to boating, hiking to biking, and rafting to swimming, the submerged canyon on the Green River is a popular spot for everyone.
In fact, Ashley National Forest boasts over 2.5 million visitors every year. This beautiful and diverse forest is in three different geographical sections, which include the Tavaputs Plateau, Wyoming Basin, and the Uinta Mountains. With elevations from 6,000 to more than 13,500 feet, you will stay cool up here during the summer. And if you hike to the top of one of the peaks, you can see the beauty of Utah and Wyoming for miles. There are 14 major RV campgrounds in the Ashley National Forest, and we have highlighted our top three choices here for you.
The Ashley National Forest in northeastern Utah as well as southwestern Wyoming encompasses over 1.3 million acres. This includes the Uintas Scenic Byway, which is a fantastic group of roads with some of the most beautiful scenery in the west. If you are coming to the forest from the north, you can take Highways 150 or 414 and from the south you have a choice of Highway 35 or 134.
Mountain View, McKinnon, Manilla, and Elkhorn are the closest cities to the forest if you need to get some gas or groceries. You should always use caution when driving in any kind of National Forest System as the roads are typically not in as good of condition as those that are in cities and towns. In addition, you run the risk of having a collision with wildlife that tend to wander out onto the roads at times.
The campgrounds usually have rustic roads as well and you will need to take it easy if you are driving a large rig or camper. Do not drive on any areas that are not marked for vehicle use and make sure you follow the rules of the road, no matter which road you are on.
The Lucerne Campground is on the banks of the Flaming Gorge Reservoir and has plenty of water sports to enjoy such as fishing, boating, and swimming. There are 119 sites separated into six different loops. Loop A has 27 sites, B has 12 sites, C has 11 sites, D has 36 sites, E has 17 sites, and F has 16. Sites in Loops A through D have electric hookups, a windbreak, campfire ring, and a picnic table. Loop D also has shade cabanas and tent pads. Loops E and F have cabanas, tables, and campfire rings, but no electric hookup.
The campsites have pads that vary in length from 24 to 65 feet in length so you should be able to find the perfect fit for your RV if you book early. You can also find several flush toilets, drinking water access, and showers around the campground and quite a few vault toilets as well. There is also a dump station for RVs. You can enjoy swimming at the Flaming Gorge beach and all kinds of water sports as well as a boat ramp, marina, and a fish cleaning station. You can also bring your pooch along, but they need to be restrained during your visit.
If you like fishing then you will love Moon Lake Campground, where anglers fish for kokanee salmon, brook, rainbow, and tiger trout, as well as splake, which is a cross between a lake and a brook trout. There are 54 campsites here with 32 of them being reservable online. Eleven of the sites are right on Moon Lake, while the rest of them are within walking distance. There are also two group campsites that can accommodate up to 75 people.
Each campsite has a cleared area, picnic table, and a fire ring with a grill for cooking and campfires. Most of the parking pads are about 65 feet long so just about any size camper or RV can fit in here. Dogs and cats are welcome as long as they are restrained at all times during your stay.
Deer Run Campground in the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area has 19 single and three double campsites. Less than a mile from the lake, you can walk down and go swimming, boating, waterskiing, or fishing. The park has hot showers and potable water access from mid-May until mid-September. This is a first-come, first-served campground so get here early if you want a spot, especially on holidays and weekends. The campground got its name from the deer herd that calls this area home so you will definitely see some deer while you are here.
The park is known for its red cliffs, as well as its excellent fishing with trophy-sized rainbow, swimming, and lake trout as well as many other types of fish. If you want to go for a hike, try the Bear Canyon Trail, which is an easy three-mile loop trail that starts right at the park. The Green River below the dam is a popular spot for rafting and canoeing where you can enjoy a day of white water rafting with family and friends. Pets are welcome as long as they are restrained at all times.
Feel like going for a swim? Pack the floaties and water toys in the RV before heading out. There are a variety of springs, creeks, lakes, and rivers to take a dip in on those hot summer days. The Flaming Gorge Reservoir is the most popular with six swimming beaches in the Flaming Gorge Recreation Area and seven in the Flaming Gorge West area. Also, Moon Lake, which is the largest body of water in the Ashley National Forest, has a huge swimming beach so get your suit on and grab a towel.
Moon Lake is 3.5 miles long and almost a mile wide. Every year, the state conservation commission stocks the lake with rainbow and tiger trout and you will find kokanee salmon is plentiful as well. Other smaller bodies of water that provide excellent fishing include the Upper Stillwater Lake, Uinta River, Yellowstone Creek, and Lake Fork River. So make sure you don’t forget to pack your fishing poles and license in the RV before heading to the forest.
If you want to do more than just fish and swim, bring along your water skis and hit one of the lakes in the Ashley National Forest that allows this fun sport. In the Flaming Gorge East area, there are six different sites where you can go and in Flaming Gorge West, there are eight places you can do some skiing. Moon Lake also allows skiing and is very popular with the locals as well as visitors around the country.
Don’t plan on just sitting in the camper all day while visiting the Ashley National Forest because with over 1,000 miles of trails, there is something for everyone. From the newbies to the experienced backpackers, you can find trails that range from under one mile to over 50 miles. The trail conditions can be poor especially when it has rained recently so wear your hiking boots. Try the 3.8-mile Tamarack and Jessen Trail if you like lakes or the nine-mile Chain Lakes Trail if you want a challenge.
You should bring your hunting gear when coming to the Ashley National Forest because it is a great spot for large game like bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, elk, mountain lions, and bear. If small game is more your style, this forest is home to a plethora of rabbits, squirrels, turkeys, and many other little critters. Waterfowl are also plentiful in certain areas. Make sure to follow the rules and keep your hunting license and tags with you.
Don’t forget to pack your skis in the RV because there are more than a dozen trails just for skiers in the Ashley National Forest. The Basset Springs Cross-Country Ski Trail is 2.9 miles beginning at Highway 191 and ends at the Grizzly Ridge Yurt. The yurt has two bunk beds and a vault toilet, but you have to reserve it online. From there you can take the Little Brush Creek Trail about 3.5 miles with slopes greater than any of the other trails in the area.