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Descriptions of
Eastern Utah Areas:
1-10 11-20 21-30 31-40 41-48


DESCRIPTIONS OF EASTERN UTAH
BIRDING AREAS:
31 - 40

Below are descriptions of:
[31]  Buckhorn Wash
[32]  Green River Area
[33]  Westwater
[34]  Sego Canyon
[35]  Colorado River Scenic Byway
[36]  Matheson Preserve
[37]  Moon Flower Canyon
[38]  La Sal Mountain Loop Road
[39]  Fisher Mesa
[40]  Negro Bill Canyon


  [31]  Buckhorn Wash
Buckhorn Wash is in Emery County and can be accessed by following the signs south from Cleveland, or driving east on a gravel road that junctions with UT-10 just north of Castle Dale, or driving north from exit 131, I-70. This is a remote and interesting site, look for pictographs, bighorn sheep at the San Rafael River Bridge, dinosaur tracks, Peregrine Falcon, Bewick's Wren, Cooper's Hawk, White-throated Swift, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Lark Sparrow and more.

From the I-70 corridor, take exit #131 and drive on the frontage road on the north side of I-70 for 3 miles, then north to the San Rafael River Bridge, approximately 15 miles. Continuing beyond the bridge goes up Buckhorn Draw. The trip from I-70 to the junction with UT-10 just north of Castle Dale is 40-50 miles, depending on side trips, like to Wedge Overlook.

If approaching the Buckhorn Wash Scenic Backway from Castle Dale on UT-10, drive one mile north, then east on a gravel road for 13 miles. The road turns south at a signed intersection for 6 miles to Wedge Overlook. Vantage points along the canyon rim provide views into "Utah's Little Grand Canyon." The San Rafael River winds its way between canyon walls 1,200 feet below the overlook. To travel Buckhorn Draw portion of the Backway, return 6 miles to the signed intersection and turn right toward the head of Buckhorn Draw. This route continues through the draw and across the San Rafael River on a swinging bridge. The Backway ends at I-70 exit 131.

The San Rafael River Bridge/Buckhorn Draw confluence, called the San Rafael Recreation Site is a good spot to spend some time. Trails, like the Calf Canyon and Cow Canyon, provide walking opportunities into a diversity of bird habitats.

HABITATS: Riparian, pinyon-juniper woodlands, and cliffs.

FEATURED BIRDS: Peregrine Falcon, Cooper's Hawk, White-throated Swift, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Lark Sparrow, and Bewick's Wren.

SEASON: Yearlong, but avoid winter storms.

LOCATION: Take I-70 exit 131, 27 miles west of the US-191/6 junction with I-70. Head east for 3 miles on the frontage road on the north side of the Interstate, then north towards the San Rafael River Bridge. From the north end, drive 1 mile north of Castle Dale on UT-10, then east on a gravel road, following signs to Wedge Overlook, Buckhorn Wash, San Rafael River Bridge, and I-70.

GPS COORDINATES: San Rafael River Bridge, 39 04' 50"N, 110 40' 00"W.

LAND OWNERSHIP: BLM

NOTES: High clearance vehicles recommended.

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  [32]  Green River Area
Birding the Green River near the town of Green River, Utah is great. This is an easily accessible area just north of I-70. First, bird the state park and the surrounding residential area for Eurasian Collared-Dove, Bullock's Oriole, Yellow-billed Cuckoo and more. Look along the Green River for mergansers and other waterfowl. The sewage ponds are less accessible, but can be reached from Silliman Lane. These ponds are good yearlong, but especially good during winter months. Look for American Coot, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Ring-necked Duck, Green-winged Teal, Common Goldeneye, and more.

After birding the town of Green River, cross the river bridge to the east side of the river and take Hastings Road north. This road goes north along the habitat edge between rangeland and farmland. There are a couple of access roads to the river along the way. In less than 10 miles, Hastings Road reaches the Lower Gray Canyon Recreation Area managed by BLM. Walk around the area and look for riparian birds. Restroom facilities are available.

Green River State Park is a fee area with a campground and river access. The 53-acre park consists mostly of cottonwood trees and manicured lawn. Green River State Park is a favorite embarkation point for river trips through Labyrinth and Stillwater Canyons. This state park may provide a base camp for some as it is within a two hour drive of Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef National Parks; Dead Horse Point and Goblin Valley State Parks; Lake Powell, San Rafael Reef, and Horseshoe Canyon. If interested in history, visit the nearby John Wesley Powell Memorial Museum. The elevation is only 4,100 feet, so summers can be hot. Look for Western Kingbird, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, Red-tailed Hawk, a variety of warblers, and more.

HABITATS: Low elevation river riparian, agriculture, sewage ponds, and residential.

FEATURED BIRDS: Eurasian Collared-Dove, Bullock's Oriole, plus wintering Ring-necked Duck, Green-winged Teal, and White-crowned Sparrow.

SEASON: Yearlong.

LOCATION: Take I-70 exit 160 to Green River. The Green River State Park is located on the south side of the road just west of the Green River bridge. After birding the park, travel west through residential area, then take Airport Road across the railroad tracks to Silliman Lane to the sewage ponds. After birding the town of Green river, travel east to the first major road running north on the east side of the river. This is Hastings Road and it goes north to Lower Gray Canyon.

GPS COORDINATES: Green River State Park, 38 58' 55"N, 110 09" 07"W. Lower Gray Canyon, 39 06' 42"N, 110 06' 32"W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Mixed state, federal and private.

NOTES: Green River State Park includes a 42-unit campground, hot showers, modern restrooms, boat launching ramp and a 9-hole golf course. Lower Gray Canyon Recreation Area offers restroom and picnic facilities.

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  [33]  Westwater
The road to Westwater goes through desert, along Coal Draw, and ends at the Colorado River. Look for Bald Eagles (winter), Golden Eagle, Ferruginous Hawk, Burrowing Owl, Wild Turkey, Blue Grosbeak, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Yellow-breasted Chat, Yellow Warbler, Lazuli Bunting, Black-throated Sparrow, and more.

HABITATS: Low desert shrub and lowland riparian.

FEATURED BIRDS: Bald Eagle (winter), Western Scrub-Jay, Common Raven, and Horned Lark.

SEASON: Yearlong.

LOCATION: From the Westwater exit (#227) on I-70, at Harley Dome (approximately 5 miles from Colorado), drive along the frontage road on the south side of the Interstate then south along Coal Draw to the Westwater Ranger Station on the Colorado River. From the Interstate to the Ranger Station is 9 miles.

GPS COORDINATES: River access near Westwater, 39 04' 58"N, 109 08' 36"W.

LAND OWNERSHIP: BLM

NOTES: Launch site for rafting the Colorado River through several whitewater rapids. Permits from BLM are required for floating the river. Five campsites and restroom facilities are available.

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  [34]  Sego Canyon
The road from Thompson Springs goes north through the old town site of Sego, then for approximately 10 miles before ending at the boundary of the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation. High clearance vehicles are recommended on the road segment north of Sego. Birding the south end of the canyon is good. Thompson Springs is at 5,100 feet in elevation and averages 137 nights below freezing and 62 days above 90 degrees during the year. At Hells Hole, the upper end of the canyon, the view is into Nash Wash. Look for Chukar, Wild Turkey, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Western Tanager, Western Scrub-Jay, Pinion Jay, Blue-gray Gnatchatcher, Grace's Warbler, Virginia's Warbler, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Lazuli Bunting, Fox Sparrow, Red-naped Sapsucker, Western Bluebird and more.

Another birding area along the south end of the Book Cliffs is the Nash Wash WMA which is wildlife viewing area advertised for winter birds, elk, and deer. The Windy Mesa Road leads to the 560-acre "old" Cunningham Ranch and 640 acres of SITLA leased land which makes up the WMA. Wild Turkeys are common in this area and both Long-eared Owl and Burrowing Owl are possibilities. To reach Nash Wash WMA, take the Cisco/UT-128 exit from I-70, exit 204. In approximately 2 miles, heading towards Cisco, the Windy Mesa Road goes north crossing the I-70 corridor and continues up Nash Wash. It's about 15 miles to the WMA. The coordinates at Nash Wash WMA are 39 03' 02"N, 109 33' 12"W.

HABITATS: Lowland riparian and associated canyons.

FEATURED BIRDS: Mexican Spotted Owl (rare), Wild Turkey, Fox Sparrow and Western Bluebird.

SEASON: Yearlong

LOCATION: For Sego Canyon, take exit 187 from I-70 and go north through Thompson Springs for about 10 miles to Hells Hole. The petroglyphs and old Sego town site are signed.

GPS COORDINATES: Hells Hole just before entering the Indian Reservation, 39 08' 54"N, 109 43' 02"W.

LAND OWNERSHIP: BLM.

NOTES: The road is suitable for all vehicles to the Sego town and rock art sites, then high clearance vehicles are recommended.

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  [35]  Colorado River Scenic Byway
The UT-128 corridor, also known as the Colorado River Scenic Byway, offers great birding and scenic view opportunities. It is approximately 45 miles from I-70 at the Cisco/UT-128 exit (#204) to the junction with US-191 near Moab. The confluence of the Colorado River and the Dolores River is 13.3 miles from the Interstate. Just below the confluence, UT-128 crosses the Colorado River at the Dewey Bridge. Spend time birding the Dewey Bridge and Dewey Bridge Recreational Site. Other birding hotspots in this map provide more detail for recommended side trips. For example, the La Sal Mountain Loop Road junction is 29 miles from I-70 (site #38) and Negro Bill Canyon (site #40) is 41 miles from I-70. Look for signs pointing to other points of interest, like the Mayberry Preserve (The Nature Conservancy), Fisher Tower, and the Castle Creek Bridge.

During winter months, look for Bald Eagle. Yearlong, look for Golden Eagle, Wild Turkey, Great Blue Heron, Blue Grosbeak, Osprey, Common Raven, and waterfowl on the river. The Cisco Desert area, near I-70, is good for Golden Eagle and many other raptor species. Look for the Great Blue Heron rookery between mileposts 9 and 10.

Movie buffs of the old western era should look for familiar scenes in this area. UT-128, just east of where the La Sal Mountain Road meets UT-128, passes through Professor Valley. Movies such as Rio Grande, Ten Who Dared, Wagon Master, Rio Conchos, Cheyenne Autumn, and many more were filmed in this scenic area.

HABITATS: Desert and lowland riparian.

FEATURED BIRDS: Bald Eagle (winter), Great Horned Owl, Hooded Merganser, Peregrine Falcon, Blue Grosbeak, and many waterfowl.

SEASON: Yearlong.

LOCATION: From I-70 exit 204, UT-128 goes east then south then back west along the Colorado River to Moab. It is approximately 45 miles from I-70 to Moab along UT-128 and it is all paved.

GPS COORDINATES: Dewey Bridge, 38 48' 42"N, 109 18' 10"W.

LAND OWNERSHIP: BLM.

NOTES: There are birding opportunities for may stops along the way.

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  [36]  Matheson Preserve
The Scott M. Matheson Preserve, or Matheson Wetlands, is an 875- acre wetland area and offers excellent birding on the outskirts of Moab. More than 225 species of birds have been recorded on the preserve. Walking the trails and boardwalks from the south side of the wetland is recommended. Two trailheads provide the major access points to the wetlands. The south trailhead can be reached from Kane Creek Road which junctions with US-191 on the south side of Moab. Access on the east side of the marsh is from the trailhead and parking area at the west end of 400N in Moab. The water levels are variable in the area, therefore, sometimes only the boardwalks will be above water and at other times the area appears dry.

Moab, Utah has an interesting history as it was settled in 1855, abandoned and resettled in 1876. The town boasts of having several names before the name of Moab persisted. Some believe the name Moab came from the hordes of mosquitoes that inhabit the adjacent wetland areas and the Piute word for mosquito, "moapa." Others claim it was named by a postmaster, William A. Pierce in about 1880. Mr. Pierce is said to have chosen the name from the Biblical location of Moab located in similar terrain.

An entire vacation can be enjoyed in the Moab area. If staying for several days, we recommend adding birding and scenic hotspots like the Goosenecks State Park, UT-313 to Dead Horse Point State Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Arches National Park. Some of these and other birding areas are described elsewhere in this birding trails map. The birding is good and the scenic views are spectacular. The Moab Information Center is a very good spot to visit and get information on activities appealing to you. The Moab area is quite famous for jeep rides and off-road bicycle trips.

Also when in Moab, walk the Mill Creek Parkway for excellent birding. Take Center Street east of US-191 (Main Street) to 400 East, then south to where 400 East crosses Mill Creek. The trail goes across Moab to the Matheson Preserve. Parking can be at the Rotary Park or along Main at about 100 South. Look for Wood Duck, Western Screech-Owl, Northern Flicker, Black-capped Chickadee and more. White-crowned Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos winter in the area.

HABITATS: Low elevation riparian, marsh, and open water.

FEATURED BIRDS: Plumbeous Vireo, Indigo Bunting, Great-tailed Grackle, Yellow-breasted Chat, Bushtit, and many winter specialties.

SEASON: Yearlong, but especially good during migration and in the winter.

LOCATION: The main Matheson Preserve trailhead can be accessed from Kane Creek Road. Drive south through Moab on US-191 until the highway (Main Street) goes over the Pack Creek Bridge (south Moab), then turn west on Kane Creek Road. The trailhead is signed and on the north side of the road just before the road reaches the banks of the Colorado River. The Mill Creek Parkway runs from Rotary Park (just southeast of the Center Street/400 East junction) to the Matheson Preserve. Also, accessible where the trail crosses Main Street (US-191) at 100 South.

GPS COORDINATES: South trailhead 38 34' 24"N, 109 34' 15"W.

LAND OWNERSHIP: The Nature Conservancy and Utah Division of Wildlife. City of Moab for Mill Creek Parkway.

NOTES: Moab is currently a modern tourist destination after going through a history of mining operations.

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  [37]  Moon Flower Canyon
From Kane Creek Road southwest of Moab, the pullout, campground and picnic area at Moon Flower Canyon offers an excellent birding spot. The trail runs through riparian vegetation with some sagebrush uplands. From the main road, Moon Flower Canyon appears to be a box canyon and I've never determined how far the trail goes up the canyon. On one trip, I witnessed a Peregrine Falcon take a Rock Pigeon directly overhead. There is something very memorable about seeing the clear blue sky filled with pigeon feathers. I also watched a Golden Eagle carry food to the young at the nest. Some of my best photos of several species of lizards come from this area. In addition to being nearly surrounded by scenic red sandstone cliffs, the area offers views of petroglyphs.

HABITATS: Low elevation riparian and sandstone cliffs.

FEATURED BIRDS: Peregrine Falcon and Golden Eagle are possible, but more likely are Canyon Wren, Rock Wren, Bushtit, and many warblers.

SEASON: Yearlong.

LOCATION: Moon Flower Canyon parking area is just 2 miles beyond the Matheson Preserve south trailhead along Kane Creek Road southwest of Moab.

GPS COORDINATES: 38 33' 15"N, 109 35' 15"W.

LAND OWNERSHIP: BLM

NOTES: Restroom and camping facilities are available.

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  [38]  La Sal Mountain Loop Road
This birding trail (road) from Moab goes through many habitat types and provides good birding and some spectacular scenery. In many travel magazines, it is listed as a desert to alpine scenic trip. The majority of the route is through mountain brush and aspen habitats at an elevation where bird numbers and diversity are high. Look for Virginia Warbler, MacGillivray's Warbler, Green-tailed Towhee, and Western Bluebird. Hermit Thrush and Townsend's Solitaire are often heard. Depending on time, side trips can be taken to higher elevation conifer forests and high mountain lakes (9,000 feet). Two possibilities are the unpaved side roads to Oowah and Warner Lakes, where campgrounds and hiking trailheads are available (look for signs along the road). Species such as American Dipper, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Olive-sided Flycatcher and Gray Jay may be found in the spruce-fir forest habitats. As the loop road drops into the Colorado River drainage, some of Castle Valley might appear bird-free, however the scenic views will easily cancel out any disappointment with bird numbers. Look for scenes you've seen in commercials and on calendars as this area is well photographed.

HABITATS: Mountain shrub, pinyon-juniper, aspen, and conifer forest. Riparian and running water at a few stream crossings.

FEATURED BIRDS: American Three-toed Woodpecker, Vesper Sparrow, Western Scrub-Jay, and Red-naped Sapsucker.

SEASON: Summer and fall.

LOCATION: Drive approximately 6 miles south of Moab on US-191 and then turn left (east) towards Ken's Lake on La Sal Mountain Loop Road. The road distance is approximately 60 miles back to Moab. The route crosses the west face of the mountain then drops into Castle Valley and joins UT-128 sixteen miles east of Moab.

GPS COORDINATES: Jct. with US-191 south of Moab, 38 29' 14"N, 109 27' 46"W; Jct. on Mill Creek and road to Oowah, 38 29' 58"N, 109 18' 23"W; Jct. with UT-128 NE of Moab, 38 40' 27"N, 109 25' 01"W.

LAND OWNERSHIP: Manti-La Sal National Forest.

NOTES: A full gas tank, drinking water, and food snacks are recommended for the trip. Don't attempt the drive during winter storms.

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  [39]  Fisher Mesa
The red cliff-rimmed mesas on the north side of the La Sal Mountains above Castle Valley are an excellent place to observe the many bird species associated with pinyon-juniper habitat. The south end of Fisher Mesa has scattered ponderosa pine, but the main part of the mesa is dominated by mature, diverse stands of pinyon pine and Utah juniper. The area is easily accessed via paved road from Moab and includes a pleasant hiking/mountain biking trail along the east rim of Fisher Mesa. The Bull Valley Overlook, just beyond the end of the pavement at a large pullout, is an excellent location to observe the cliffs running for several miles above Fisher Valley. The pullout is at the head of Bull Canyon.

In addition to pinyon-juniper birds such as Black-throated Gray Warbler, Juniper Titmouse, and Pinyon Jay, there is an excellent opportunity to observe migratory raptors during fall months. Spring access is often limited by lingering snow. Along the cliffs, look for Golden Eagle, Turkey Vulture, Violet-green Swallow, and White-throated Swift.

HABITATS: Pinyon-juniper woodlands and rock cliffs.

FEATURED BIRDS: Golden Eagle, Pinyon Jay, Juniper Titmouse, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Violet-green Swallow, White-throated Swift, and Canyon Wren.

SEASON: Best during summer and fall.

LOCATION: From the US-191/UT-128 junction just north of Moab, drive 16 miles to the northeast on UT-128. The road follows along the south side of the Colorado River (site #35). Turn right (south) on the La Sal Mountain Loop Road through Castle Valley. In approximately 12 miles the road forks. Instead of remaining on the La Sal Loop Road, drive east towards Gateway for 7 miles to FR-601 and the Fisher Mesa Trailhead. The Bull Valley overlook is another half mile east.

GPS COORDINATES: Bull Valley overlook is 38 36' 56"N, 109 13' 22"W.

LAND OWNERSHIP: Manti-La Sal National Forest.

NOTES: Loose sand and gravel can make footing dangerous, don't walk too close to the high cliff edges.

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  [40]  Negro Bill Canyon
The 2-mile trail (one way) up Negro Bill Canyon is a great birding trail. Expect riparian habitat, "slickrock" and the birds associated with these habitats. Negro Bill Canyon was named for William Granstaff who ran cattle in the canyon. The trail leads to the Morning Glory Natural Bridge that spans 243 feet making it the sixth longest natural bridge in the nation. As the entire length of the trail provides interesting birding opportunities, the length of the walk can be variable. The trailhead is on UT-128 which connects Moab with Exit 204 on I-70 and has been designated the Colorado River Scenic Byway (site #35), look for additional interesting spots in publications describing Utah's scenic drives.

HABITATS: Low elevation riparian and rock cliffs.

FEATURED BIRDS: Gray Vireo, American Dipper, and Canyon Wren.

SEASON: Yearlong, but can be very hot during mid-day in the summer.

LOCATION: From the US-191/UT-128 junction just north of Moab, drive 3 miles to the northeast on UT-128. The road follows along the south side of the Colorado River and the trailhead is on the south side of the road.

GPS COORDINATES: 38 36' 33"N, 109 31' 59"W (trailhead).

LAND OWNERSHIP: BLM.

NOTES: Restroom facilities are available.

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Descriptions of
Eastern Utah Areas:
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