DIXIE NATIONAL FOREST
With almost 2 million acres spanning 170 miles, Dixie National Forest is the largest national forest in Utah. Dixie is a “multiple use” forest, with about 15% being used for timber production, and other parts being managed as habitat protection areas and other management projects. The forest stretches from around the Torrey, Utah area in the northeast to St. George in the southwestern corner of the state.
At the lower elevations, vegetation is more sparse, with desert brush popping up in clumps. At mid-elevation, larger trees cover the mountainsides. Pine and juniper are among the most common. The highest peaks within Dixie National Forest are covered in thick pine, spruce and fir trees.
PLACES TO SEE
The Boulder Mountain area of Dixie National Forest is a popular destination for high-mountain fishing. There are more than 80 bodies of water to choose from with a variety of fish species to catch.
ATV and hiking trails criss-cross the mountain and provide some great scenic views. The Boulder Mountain area can be accessed from Torrey, Utah by heading south on Scenic Byway 12 and finding a spot to pull off and explore between Torrey and the city of Boulder. Or you can also come in from the west through Forest Road 178.
BOX-DEATH HOLLOW WILDERNESS AREA
The Dixie National Forest wilderness area that touches Capitol Reef Country is Box-Death Hollow, which is sometimes referred to as “The Box”.
Fishing is plentiful in Pine Creek and Sand Creek, which flow through this area. Keep a lookout for mule deer, elk, and even the occasional cougar. There are nine miles of trail along The Box, but you should stick to the trail in this remote wilderness area.
Hell’s Backbone is a beautiful scenic drive that passes through Dixie National Forest between the towns of Escalante and Boulder. Drive this route to view a varied landscape of desert, pine forest, sandstone cliffs and some incredible views of Box Death Hollow Wilderness Area.
In a section known as the Paunsaugunt Plateau, Red Canyon offers a unique, hoodoo-covered landscape similar to Bryce Canyon National Park at a smaller scale. The red-rock pillars rising above the forest vegetation is a unique view you can’t find in many places.
Red Canyon Visitor Center, Trailhead and Campground sit just off of Scenic Byway 12, about 10 minutes south of Panguitch.
THINGS TO DO IN DIXIE NATIONAL FOREST
The miles and miles of Dixie National Forest wilderness are an outdoor explorers paradise. There are three designated wilderness areas within the forest where the most rugged and natural beauty of Dixie can be enjoyed: Pine Valley, Box-Death Hollow and Ashdown Gorge.
Visitors will never run out of hiking or mountain biking trails. Horseback riding is another popular way to explore the backwoods. In recent years, photography enthusiasts have begun to appreciate the scenic beauty of the forest even more, coming from all around to take photos of the landscape.
Hunting is available within Dixie National Forest, but be sure to adhere to local regulations. The forest is a great place for finding Utah’s big game species. Driving Scenic Byway 12 and the various mountain roads that cut through Dixie National Forest is a great way to explore the area relatively quickly and comfortably.
Natural lakes, ponds and reservoirs dot the map when looking at the entire Dixie National Forest area. Fishing, boating and canoeing can be enjoyed during the warmer months without fighting others for space. Some of the larger lakes are popular for boaters and water-skiers. Swimming and canoeing are also a fun way to enjoy the various pockets of water, hidden within the trees.
Among the most popular spots for fishing and water sports are Panguitch Lake, Navajo Lake and Enterprise Reservoir. But for a more secluded experience closer to Capitol Reef Country, you may want to check out some of the many smaller lakes scattered across the Boulder Mountain area.
There are 23 designated campground locations throughout Dixie National forest, as well as numerous picnic areas. Camping is a great way to immerse yourself in the beauty of the forest and find some of its lesser-known scenic areas.
Many of the campsites are near the more popular lakes and ponds, but there are also some more secluded options.
PICTOGRAPHS, PETROGLYPHS, AND DWELLINGS
For those interested in history or archeology, you may be interested in visiting some of the dwellings and rock art left behind by ancient peoples who inhabited Dixie National Forest thousands of years ago.
Within the forest, you can find Fremont and Anasazi cliff dwellings, pictographs and petroglyphs. One of the more popular sites is the “Moqui Houses” visible up on the high ledges near the community of Escalante, Utah.
Dixie National Forest is still open during the winter, and the fun doesn’t stop. When the snow falls, the forest trails serve as great cross-country skiing routes. Snowmobiling is also a popular winter activity here.
Torrey, Utah serves as a great basecamp community for exploring Dixie National Forest. Besides the great restaurants and historical sites in town, Torrey also offers a variety of lodging options for guests to choose from.
Browse hotels, cabins and other lodging options in Torrey.
Are dogs allowed in Dixie National Forest?
Yes, pets are allowed. But dogs must be kept on a leash in all campgrounds and public areas.
Where should I stay to visit Dixie National Forest?
The forest spans across many communities in Utah, but if you want to remain close to the other attractions in Capitol Reef Country, we recommend choosing from the lodging options near Torrey, Utah.