Dixie National Forest encompasses nearly two million acres of forests and mountains in the southern portion of Utah and is the largest national forest in the state. It is situated right around 250 miles south of Salt Lake City, UT, with its headquarters located in Cedar City. Elevations in Dixie National Forest can range up to 11,322 feet at the summit of Boulder Mountain. This diverse forest hosts a large variety of wildlife, and hunters and animal lovers alike will appreciate the healthy populations of deer, moose, and antelope. The trails in this area range from short, simple jaunts to challenging uphill climbs that can span many miles.
Along with the gorgeous views that are provided by the high elevations, there are fantastic and unusual rock formations throughout the park. You can see several hoodoos, which are large pillars of rocks, also known as fairy chimneys, or tent rocks. In some areas of the forest, you can find archaeological records of early civilizations in pictographs, artifacts, and even dwellings that they left behind. There are over 20 RV campgrounds located throughout the park, and we have highlighted four of them which will give you a good idea of the character of this unique national forest. No matter what brings you to Utah in your campervan, you won't want a chance to see the enchanting wilderness of Dixie National Forest.
The main highways and roads that lead to Dixie National Forest are generally wide, well-maintained roads with gentle curves and slopes that are easy to navigate even in a big rig or if towing a trailer. There are several paved roads that travel through both the eastern and western portions of this National Forest. Although these picturesque roads are narrower and more convoluted, they are still fairly simple to handle for most vehicles. It is important to be aware when driving in this area that it is home to many larger species of wildlife, such as deer and bears, which may cross the road at any time. This is especially true during the hours around dawn and dusk, when these animals are most likely to be active. The roads inside the larger campgrounds are also paved and generally well-maintained, but some of the smaller campgrounds have gravel and dirt roads instead.
Duck Creek Campground is in the eastern portion of the Dixie National Forest, just an eight-minute drive from a little town known as Duck Creek Village. It is made up of 86 single-family campsites and seven double sites which are suitable for RVs and trailers up to 30 feet in length. These sites are available for reservation up to six months in advance. There are also three larger group campsites available for reservation up to 12 months in advance.
The campsites are primitive, meaning that they have no hookups for electricity, water, or sewer. However, each of the roomy family campsites is surrounded by tall trees and comes equipped with a fire ring and a picnic table. The use of generators with approved spark arresters is allowed during daytime hours, but must be silenced during this campground’s quiet hours between 10 PM and 6 AM.
There are faucets for fresh, potable water scattered throughout the campground, a sanitary dump site toward the southern end of the grounds, and flush toilets positioned in each loop. Leashed pets are allowed at the campgrounds in Dixie National Forest, but are prohibited on a few of the trails for the safety and security of the wildlife in the area.
The Equestrian Campground is located in the heart of the Dixie National Forest, less than a mile from the Pine Valley Reservoir. The closest town is the tiny community of Central, ten miles to the west of the campground itself. There are 11 single-sized campsites suitable for RVs or trailers, as well as four double-sized sites. While the sites are rustic, without electricity, sewer, or water hookups, they are equipped with fire rings, tent pads, and picnic tables. The use of generators with approved spark arresters is allowed during daytime hours, but must be silenced during this campground’s quiet hours between 10 PM and 6 AM. There are vault toilets available for campers to use as well as potable drinking water, which is available during the peak season, from Memorial Day through Labor Day. This campground is specially furnished for campers with horses and boasts one large four-way corral, as well as four smaller corrals that are situated near some of the campsites.
Panguitch Lake Campground is in the eastern portion of the Dixie National Forest, about 20 miles west of the small town of Panguitch, UT. It is comprised of one large loop with 39 sites suitable for single RVs or trailers up to 40 feet in length, eight double-sized campsites, and three larger group sites. This campground does have several faucets with running, fresh water for campers, as well as flush toilets and a sanitary dump station. It does not have electrical, water, or sewer hookups at the sites. The use of generators with approved spark arresters is allowed during daytime hours, but must be silenced during this campground’s quiet hours between 10 PM and 6 AM. This campground is situated very near Panguitch Lake, a popular spot for fishermen and boating enthusiasts which boasts two developed boat landings on each side of the lake. Although the campgrounds are closed for camping during the winter season, Panguitch Lake is still often active as ice fishing and snowmobiling are popular in this area.
The Honeycomb Rocks Campground, in the western portion of the Dixie National Forest, lies ten miles west of the town of Enterprise, UT. It is situated near the Enterprise Reservoir, a popular spot for fishermen and boating enthusiasts. The campground is comprised of 21 primitive style campsites which are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The campsites do not feature electric, water, or sewer hookups, but they are equipped with fire rings and picnic tables. The use of generators with approved spark arresters is allowed during daytime hours, but must be silenced during this campground’s quiet hours between 10 PM and 6 AM. The vault toilets that service the campgrounds are well-maintained and there are spigots with potable water nearby them. Leashed pets are allowed at the campgrounds in Dixie National Forest, but are prohibited on a few of the trails for the safety and security of the wildlife in the area. The Honeycomb Rocks area is known for its interesting and unusual rock formations, which also help protect the campgrounds from the wind.
Dixie National Forest is a huge forest, encompassing almost two million acres of forest with several areas of climatic extremes. The diversity of climates and environments makes this forest an excellent home for an equally diverse wildlife population, so you will want to make sure you pack your binoculars and camera in the camper when visiting this vast national forest. Species include large ungulates such as elk, mule deer, and antelope, as well as predators, like cougars, bears, and bobcats. There is also an astounding variety of birds, reptiles, and smaller mammals, such as the Utah prairie dog, wild turkeys, cottontail rabbits, mountain bluebirds, golden eagles, and sidewinder rattlesnakes.
Over 90 lakes and 500 miles of fishing streams makes Dixie National Forest a fisherman’s delight. Both shore fishing and fishing by boat are popular in the lakes and reservoirs that are found in the forest. While the predominant fish are different varieties of trout, including brown, cutthroat, brook, and rainbow, there are also healthy populations of smallmouth bass and bluegills. Fly-fishermen will enjoy catching brown, cutthroat, and rainbow trout in the cold streams and rivers, particularly those at high altitudes.
There are many different hiking and biking trails to be found in Dixie National Forest, so you will want to bring your hiking gear along with you in your trailer when you visit. Novices or those who prefer a simpler hike will enjoy trails like the Arches Trail, a short .6-mile nature walk that boasts an abundance of wildflowers in the spring and summer months, or the Yant West Trail, a 3.4-mile loop with outstanding scenic views. Those looking for a more challenging adventure may prefer the Gardner Peak Trail, a strenuous 6.6-mile uphill hike with an amazing variety of trees, or the Oak Grove Trail, a shorter uphill climb with a view of nearby Zion National Park at the peak.
Dixie National Forest includes many mountainous areas, some with striking and unusual rock formations. Red Canyon, just east of where Scenic Byway 12 and Scenic Highway 89 cross, has a number of hoodoos, which can be explored on nearby trails. Powell Point has steep limestone cliffs and plateaus, and the Thunder Mountain Trail takes you to the top of the Clarion Formation, giving you a bird’s eye view of spectacular rock and white spine cliffs.
If you enjoy hunting, be sure to pack your hunting gear in your camping trailer when travelling to Dixie National Forest. The most common targets in this huge forest include mule deer, elk, moose, and wild turkey, but smaller animals like rabbits and upland birds such as grouse, pheasant, and quail are also popular. The archery season for the larger game usually starts earlier than the hunting season with firearms, and additional permits must be obtained in order to harvest any deer without antlers.
Dixie National Forest turns into a two million-acre winter wonderland once the snow falls. Many of the hiking trails are groomed for either skiing or snowmobiling in the winter, and there are over a thousand miles of timber roads ready for exploration during the snowy season. For those that prefer the excitement of downhill skiing, Brian Head Resort is also within the Forest, and provides ski trails for all experience levels, ski lifts, and even lessons for the novice.