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Title image: UC Region Colorado River Storage Project

Flaming Gorge Dam

On May 24, 1869, Major John Wesley Powell and his crew of nine men began a daring three-month expedition down the Green and Colorado rivers. On May 27, three days after they set out from Green River, Wyoming, they reached the Uinta Mountains in their small wooden boats and were impressed by the beauty of the sun’s reflection off the brilliant red gorge that looked from a distance as if it were on fire. Powell and his men named the canyon ‘Flaming Gorge’ then continued their successful trip downstream completing their journey in the late summer.

Construction of Flaming Gorge Dam, as part of the Colorado River Storage Project, began in June 1958 with the last bucket of concrete placed on November 15, 1962. The 502 foot-high (151 meters) thin-arch concrete dam is located on the Green River in northeastern Utah about 32 miles (51.5 kilometers) downstream from the Utah-Wyoming border. Flaming Gorge Dam is one of the four initial units of the multi-purpose CRSP, which provides vital water storage and hydropower generation as well as many recreation benefits.

On December 10, 1962, the waters of the Green River began filling the reservoir behind Flaming Gorge Dam and nearly a year later on September 27, 1963, President John F. Kennedy initiated the first power generation at Flaming Gorge Powerplant. The dam was dedicated on August 17, 1964, by former First Lady, Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson.

There are three generating units in the Flaming Gorge Powerplant, with a total installed capacity of about 150 megawatts. The powerplant produces approximately 500,000,000 kilowatt hours of energy annually which is enough to serve about 50,000 households. The power produced by Flaming Gorge Powerplant is marketed by the Western Area Power Administration and sold to municipalities, public utilities, and governmental agencies in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nebraska, and Nevada.

photo: Flaming Gorge Reservoir
Flaming Gorge Reservoir

Flaming Gorge Reservoir extends as far as 91 mi (146 km) upstream and is part of Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, administered by the U.S. Forest Service. When the reservoir is full at elevation 6,040 feet (1,841 meters) above sea level, it has a capacity of 3,788,900 acre-feet (4,674 million cubic meters) and a surface area of 42,020 acres (17,005 hectares).Within the reservoir area, there are two distinct types of land: a mountainous area in Utah composed of benches, canyons, and forest; and a desert area in Wyoming composed of low hills, shale badlands, and desert shrubs. These diverse areas provide habitat for a variety of birds and animals such as deer, elk, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, prairie dogs, Steller’s jays, Clark’s nutcrackers, and eagles. 

The community of Dutch John, Utah, located about two miles northeast of the dam, was founded by the Secretary of the Interior in 1958 as a community to house personnel, administrative offices, and equipment for construction and operation of Flaming Gorge Dam and Powerplant. The community was named for a pioneer settler of the area. Dutch John was managed by Reclamation as a residential area to house staff involved in the operation, maintenance, and administration of the dam, until 1998. Congress then passed legislation transferring the Dutch John community to the local government.


Last updated: July 25, 2014