U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

Dixie National Forest


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Forest Information

The Dixie National Forest is Utah's largest Forest and is comprised of 1,883,896 acres. It is divided up into four geographic areas and is located in the southwest portion of Utah. There are 27 developed campgrounds of which 19 meet the selection criteria.

People come to southern Utah to see the wonders of Byrce Canyon, Zion and Capitol Reef National Parks and Cedar Breaks and Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monuments and often overlook the Dixie National Forest. This U.S.National Forest holds the reasons why people made the dangerous trip from their safe homes in the east to the area and than carved out homes in the wilderness. They came for clear blue water, wide valleys, abundant wildlife, and vast stands of pines, spruce, and firs. Today, the Dixie offers these delights plus a quiet and uncrowded alternative to camping in National Parks. Here, visitors can enjoy a quiet and spacious camping location, the challenge and solitude of various trails, and an "up-close-and-personal" look at the Dixie's geology, beauty and many other delights.

State Route 12 was declared "one of the ten Scenic Byways in America" by Car and Driver magazine. Most of State Route 12's 120 miles pass through Dixie National Forest. One of the memorable stretches is through Dixie's Red Canyon. Located next to Bryce Canyon National Park and within a comfortable driving distance of Cedar Breaks and Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monuments, Red Canyon is too often given only cursory attention by visitors heading for these national treasures. Water, weather, and wind have carved Red Canyon's spectacular collection of canyons, cliffs, and arches in a darker sandstone then that found in Bryce Canyon. There is one Forest Service-developed campground in Red Canyon, named appropriately Red Canyon. Adjacent to State Route 12, it features spectacular views, well-wooded sites, flush toilets, hot showers, convenient access to a number of trails and a number of camp sites for car, tent, recreational vehicle (RV), and motorhome camping enthusiasts.

The Buckhorn hiking trail, which starts in the Red Canyon. campground, is an example of the trails found in the forest. It is classified as a moderate to strenuous. The rewards for hiking Buckhorn are outstanding views of the area's geology and vistas reaching across to the distant Markagunt Plateau. This trail is truly breathtaking both physically and visually. Another trail, not quite the physical challenge but equally awe-inspiring, is Arches. The Red Canyon area claims to have been Butch Cassidy's old neighborhood and the Arches trail begins at what is reported to have been a stone structure used by Butch to cache supplies. The highlight of the trail is a formation of a man-size keyhole shaped arches with a window on the other side. (Check with the Red Canyon Visitor Center for more information about trails.)

For those who would prefer camping farther off the highway but would still like to visit Bryce Canyon National Park, Pine Lake campground is a good choice. This small campground is within walking distance of the 25-acre Pine Lake, an alpine lake featuring a robust population of Rainbow and Brook trout. Pine Lake campground also provides easy access to several trails including an 83-mile stretch of the Great Western Trail.

If lakes large enough for power boats are the objective, there are the beautiful Navajo Lake and the more developed Panguitch Lake. Both lakes have developed Forest Service campgrounds but each cluster of campgrounds has a different personality. The campgrounds around Navajo Lake (Te-ah, Spruces and Navajo Lake) are tucked into dense stands of various types of trees including aspen and spruce while Panguitch Lake's campgrounds (Panguitch Lake North and South) enjoy the more spacious feeling provided by a stand of mature Ponderosa pines. Plus, nearby to the Panguitch Lake campgrounds, are full-service resorts offering boat rentals and meals. Cedar Breaks National Monument is located about halfway between both lakes and makes a nice alternative to a day of fishing.

Farther to the east on State Route 12 is the stark and awesome beauty of Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument. The Dixie National Forest has two campgrounds in this area; Posey Lake and Barker. High up in the Escalante Mountains and near the Aquarius Plateau, these campgrounds offer a cool and pleasant change to the vast openness of the National Monument. Aspen and spruce covered mountainsides hug the shores of these small canoeable lakes making either campground a delight, particularly for tent campers. A trip to the Monument from either campground is an all day affair so take the time to also visit the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. This little State Park is said to have some of the best examples of petrified wood to be found in the country.

The northeast end of State Route 12 climbs up Boulder Mountain where pull-outs and overlooks provide a stunning view of Capitol Reef National Park in the foreground and the Henry Mountains in the distance. Atop Boulder Mountain the Dixie National Forest has three developed campgrounds - Singletree, Pleasant Creek and Oak Creek. Singletree campground features a delightful, although challenging for some, hike down to the Singletree waterfall, where cascading droplets of cold water fall more then twenty feet and provide a cool and refreshing treat for the hiker. Although located in Dixie National Forest, all three campgrounds are administered by Fishlake National Forest, Fremont River Ranger District.

With the National Parks and Monuments scattered throughout the Dixie National Forest it is nice to have a place with its own special beauty far from the crowds of international visitors. That place is the Pine Valley Recreation Area northeast of St. George, Utah and near the tiny community of Pine Valley. Here a collection of five rustic campgrounds snuggle up against the rugged beauty of the Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness.

It is said the Dixie National Forest has been discovered by alpine mountain bicyclists. And why not? The number of alpine mountain trails that are suited to mountain bicycles is extensive. Many, such as the Grand Thunder Mountain trail, link to similar trails in National Parks such as Zion and Bryce Canyon. There is even a construction project underway to provide a paved trail paralleling State Route 12 through Red Canyon up to Bryce Canyon.

The Dixie National Forest stretches across southern Utah from the Great Basin to the Colorado River. There is more to the Dixie than the parks and monuments found within its borders. The scents of campfires and pine trees, outstanding and varied camping locations, cool nights with starry skies, wildlife, clear, cold lakes and streams, solitude and challenge, breathtaking landscape and meadows of wildflowers, and so very much more are there for the camper. It would be a shame to focus on just the parks and monuments and miss the many wonders found in the Dixie National Forest.

SUPERVISOR ADDRESS 82 North 100 East Cedar City, Utah 84721 435-865-3700 RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES Cedar City 82 North 100 East P.O.B. 0627 Cedar City, Utah 84721-0627 435-865-3200 Escalante 755 West Main Escalante, Utah 84726 435-826-5400 Pine Valley 196 East Tabernacle St. Room 40 P.O.B. 2288 St. George, Utah 84770 435-652-3100 Powell 225 East Center P.O.B. 80 Panguitch, Utah 84759 435-676-9300

Fred and Suzi Dow