Scenic USA - Utah

Dixie National Forest

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Red Canyon in the Dixie National Forest - Utah

Photos by Gary O'Toole

     At the start of the 21st century, America's USDA Forest Service has a good reason to celebrate its centennial anniversary. Initiated at a time when lumbering companies went unchecked, the Forest Service oversaw the retention of 750 million acres of America's forestland. Dixie National Forest Sign - Utah Through reclamation and conservation this remarkable achievement took place during a period when America's population increased 300 percent.
     When the forest service was created, the father of forestry, Gifford Pinchot, developed his own ideas of conservation. Bucking President Roosevelt and John Muir, Pincot pushed for bills (laws) that would benefit all of the people. Although he empathized with people who disliked the idea of cutting down trees, Pinchot stated, "You can't practice forestry without it."
     Utah is home to six national forests, all occupying mountains or plateau regions. Dixie National Forest The two million acre Dixie National Forest is spread over several regions in the southwest with its headquarters in Cedar City. Recreation in Utah's forestlands is quite popular. Here, within the Dixie National Forest the forest service has set aside 83,000 acres of wilderness area. Hiking, horseback riding and camping are among the favorite pastimes. Outside the wilderness, those who enjoy nature study, hunting, fishing and winter recreation share the land with industrial activities that include gas and oil expoloration in addition to 15 percent of the land used in timber production.
     Two popular scenic byways pass through the Dixie National Forest. The Markagunt High Plateau Scenic Byway crosses Cedar Mountain and traces a roadway lined with aspens. Enjoy this autumn River Valley Cottonwoods scenery over one of the Cedar Mountain hiking trails that begin at Navajo Lake. The Cedar Breaks Scenic Byway follows Route 148 around a two thousand foot deep amphitheater centered on the Cedar Breaks National Monument. This view exemplifies the Dixie National Forest's mid-elevation forests of pinyon pine and juniper. Here in Red Canyon, the red stained rocks provide a striking contrast to the mountainsides of greenery. Higher elevations, such as the region surrounding Brian Head Peak, receive upwards of 40 inches of precipitation a year. At these high elevations, forest visitors will find aspen, pine, spruce and fir. This unique section of Utah's forestland is a haven for photographers, backcounty hikers and byway travelers. Cedar Breaks, Zion, and Bryce Canyon national parks, plus a drive through Red Canyon add more scenic attractions in this national forest.

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