Cedar Mountain – a Great Place to Cool Off
By Dixie Brunner
The two million acre Dixie National Forest is a jewel of public land. While the forest has four geographic areas stretching 170 miles across southern Utah, the Cedar Mountain area is certainly among its most stunning. You don’t have to look far to find views here! With high elevations and cool mountain streams, Cedar Mountain is not only the place to get refreshed during hot summer days, but actually enjoy a mountain habitat not far from desert surroundings. The ‘Cedar Mountain’ name supposedly was given when early settlers incorrectly called the juniper trees, so prevalent on the mountain, cedar trees. The mountain part is obvious, as you climb from about 6,000 ft. in elevation to over 11,000 ft. While misnamed, the Rocky Mountain juniper offer year-round habitat to many of the mountain’s animals. From Brian Head Peak, towering 11,307 feet above sea level, to the quaint charms of the alpine village of Duck Creek, Cedar Mountain offers a host of scenery and activities for the traveler. The Duck Creek area is gaining national recognition as a great recreational destination, with some of the best trails, scenery and terrain fond anywhere in America’s southwest. Their annual celebration, Duck Creek Days Chili Cook-off, is held on July 27 and 28 this year. Forest visitors can enjoy hiking, camping, mountain biking, viewing incredible scenery, horseback and ATV riding and fishing. You can also picnic, camp, view interpretive exhibits and take pleasure drives throughout the area. Lodging accommodations are available as well. By taking scenic Highway 14 west from Highway 89 toward Cedar City, the nearly 42 mile trip offers travelers a number of scenic and recreational stops. This drive takes you through aspen, oak and pine-covered forests, past crystal clear, ice-cold streams and lakes, to an awe-inspiring and different view of Zion National Park and Kolob Canyon. Why not visit Mammoth Creek, Cascade Falls or get information at the Duck Creek Visitor Center? Continue on and spend some time at Navajo Lake and Webster’s Flat, or take Hwy 143 to Cedar Breaks and on to Brian Head or Panguitch Lake. Many artists find nearby Cedar Breaks National Monument more inspiring than Bryce Canyon National Park, with different degrees of hikes available to take in the sights. Camping is available at six locations on the mountain, with a range of sites and amenities. For more information, call Dixie National Forest at 435-865-3700.