Dixie National Forest in Utah

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Dixie National Forest

This forest borders three national parks and two national monuments, making for incredible and varied terrain: large forests with old growth trees, stream-cut canyons, sandstone cliffs, rivers and more.

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  • Almost 2m acres of land is available for public use in the Dixie National Forest.
  • There are fantastic hiking and biking opportunities in the extensive trail system.
  • Explore the cliffs, forests, mountain lakes and streams from a nearby campsite.
  • The western side of the forest is more popular than the remote eastern stretch.

Overview

Dixie National Park is a wilderness lover's playground. Take your pick from a scenic drive, camping out, hiking some of the mountains, or just enjoying the winter snow.

Location & Information

Dixie National Forest is over 170 miles across, so if you threw a dart at a map of southwest Utah, chances are good that you'd hit some piece of it.

The forest starts just a few miles to the east of Cedar City, running all the way to Capital Reef National Park, which borders the eastern edge.

For more information, contact the main ranger office in Cedar City:

Dixie National Forest
1789 N Wedgewood Lane
Cedar City, UT 84721
(435) 865-3700

Activities

Hiking/Biking
The options for the hikers and bikers are fantastic, with trails cutting a intricate network, leading to scenic outlooks over the entire area. Trails are generally open to both hikers and mountain bikers, but be sure to check access maps.

  • Navajo Lake Trail - This 11.5-mile loop around Navajo Lake gives the opportunity to pass through aspen strands and find vistas of the natural lake from the north end. The Te-ah campground is next to the trailhead, with water and restrooms available.
  • Cascade Falls Trail - This easy, 1.1 mile out-and-back is great to stretch the legs while hiking to a scenic waterfall exiting the side of a cliff. The Cascade Falls Trailhead is in the southwest corner of the park, by Navajo Lake. Hikers only.
  • Great Western Trail - This 125-mile trail is broken into a number of sections in the Escalante District, on the east side of the park. Most visitors tackle just a section, depending of their goal. The trail is open to multiple use.
  • Virgin River Rim Trail - 32 miles of trail meander through some of the best scenery in the park, including Strawberry Point. Take on a section of it, or backpack/ride the entire thing at once. There are four trailheads, allowing for variable distance and intensity: Woods, Te-ah, Cascade Falls, and Strawberry Point.

Camping
There are a number of campgrounds in the area, most including spots for RVs and other vehicles. Often located close to lakes and streams, these campgrounds are great base areas to explore some of the other activities of Dixie National Forest, Utah.

  • Navajo Lake Campground - This campsite, 30 miles east of Cedar City just off UT-14, has great services, with 24 RV spots, and access to the Navajo Lake, popular for fishing and boating.
  • Duck Creek Campground - One of the larger sites in the forest, 85 RV sites are popular with the ATV and snowmobile crowds who frequent the Duck Creek / Markagunt ATV Trail System.
  • Te-ah Campground - Over forty sites are available in this convenient campground, nestled in the aspen groves. Close to the Virgin River Rim Trailhead and Navajo Lake, this is a great campsite for wildlife viewing and photography.
  • Posey Lake Campground - Convenient access to the Great Western Trail, this campground is on the eastern side of the forest. 20 spots are available for tents and trailers.

Winter Sports
Southern Utah isn't just about deserts and cliffs, there's snow, too! In Dixie National Forests, UT, there are some great options for skiing, and an entire ski resort to try out.

  • Brian Head Ski Resort - This resort, 11 miles south of Parawon on UT-143, features two mountains, a summit at 11,307 feet, and 8 chairlifts, all available at a reasonable price. There are 650 acres of skiable terrain at this full service resort.
  • Ashdown Gorge Wilderness Area - For the cross-country skier or snowshoe enthusiast, the trip to Rattlesnake Trailhead offers the opportunity to get onto snowmobile-free trails, cutting into the beautiful winter solitude. The trailhead is found off UT-143, by Cedar Breaks.
  • Duck Creek / Markagunt ATV Trail System - This massive network of trails is a popular snowmobiling area, with options for all levels of riders, from beginners to experts.  There is a Visitor's Center across the road from Duck Lake with maps and information.

Scenic Drives
There are many roads in the National Forest that give visitors great views of the protected area. Campsites are available along many of these drives, or they can be done as an easy outing.

  • Markagunt Scenic Byway - This is a perfect fall drive, cruising from Cedar City on UT-14, passing through the steep Cedar Canyon for a 1 hour, 40 mile trip, ending at the US-89 junction.
  • Posey Lake Road Scenic Backway - For those who want to get deeper into the Ponderosa pines and lakes of the forest, this is a great trail. Start in Escalante, follow Forest Road 153 through eastern Dixie NF, past Posey Lake, ending in Bicknell on UT-24. The one-way trip is one hour, 40 miles.
  • East Fork of the Sevier Scenic Backway - Start at US-89/UT-12 junction, follow the Sevier River through its course in the Dixie National Park. The 60 mile, 1.5 hours trip passes the Tropic Reservoir, Pink Cliffs, and has options for exciting detours.

Fun Facts

The Twisted Forest, part of the Ashdown Gorge Wilderness Area, is home to the Bristlecone Pine, the oldest living life-forms on earth. Some of these trees are over 4,000 years old!

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