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Area
Descriptions:
Sites
1-12
Sites
13-24
Sites
25-36
Sites
37-47


SOUTHWEST UTAH BIRDING TRAILS
AREA DESCRIPTIONS FOR SITES 13 - 24

Below are area descriptions of:
[13]  Quail Creek Reservoir
[14]  Sand Hollow Reservoir
[15]  Leeds Creek to Oak Drive Campground
[16]  Kolob Fingers Road
[17]  Kolob Terrace Road to Kolob Reservoir
[18]  Coalpits Wash and Grafton
[19]  Springdale Pond
[20]  Zion Canyon in Zion National Park
[21]  Yellowjacket Canyon/Coral Pink Sand Dunes
[22]  Kanab Creek
[23]  Cedar Breaks
[24]  Brian Head Peak


  [13]  QUAIL CREEK RESERVOIR  
Quail Creek Reservoir is a favorite hotspot for local birders. Just off of I-15 (Leeds/Silver Reef Exit #23), travel south through the town of Leeds, then east (left fork at a Y) to the reservoir. The high waterline of the reservoir extends through a narrow gap in the ridge, where Leeds Creek enters the reservoir. At this point is a large area of riparian woodlands that attracts many warblers and many rarities during migration. Check the Utah birding hotline to see if any rare eastern warblers have recently been spotted.

Quail Creek State Park is 3,300 feet in elevation. The 600-acre reservoir has a maximum depth of 120 feet keeping it cold enough to support rainbow trout. The reservoir was built in 1988. Although Quail Creek and Leeds Creek add water to the reservoir, most of the water is pumped into the reservoir from the Virgin River. Sand Hollow Reservoir (area #14) is formed by a more recent dam, but utilizes a similar water source.

Birding is good along the 4.6 mile road from the Interstate exit to the Quail Creek State Park headquarters. Parking at the administration site offers good views of the lake and offers restroom facilities. Quail Creek Reservoir continues to be one of the best locations in Utah for rare water birds, especially during the migration and winter seasons. Three species of Scoters (Surf, White-winged, and Black) have been seen as well as four species of loon (Common, Pacific, Yellow-billed and Red-throated). Six species of grebe (Western, Clark's, Eared, Horned, Pied-billed, and Red-necked) were seen on one winter day in 2002. Common Goldeneye are abundant. Also look for Forster's and Caspian Terns.

Continue driving south along the Quail Creek shoreline to the junction with UT-9. Turn left (east) for a short distance and park by the locked gate across the road from the Quail Lake Estates to view the sewage ponds. See hotspot #14 for information on Sand Hollow State Park.

HABITATS: Open water, shoreline, lowland riparian.

FEATURED BIRDS: Migrating warblers in riparian areas. Many species of waterfowl on the lake and water birds like Common Loon, Pacific Loon, Western Grebe, Clark's Grebe, Caspian Tern, Common Merganser, and Red-breasted Merganser.

SEASON: Best during spring and fall migration, but good for yearlong birding.

LOCATION: Quail Creek Reservoir can be viewed along the road from the Leeds/Silver Reef exit from I-15, exit #23, to where the road junctions with UT-9 approximately 6 miles west of Hurricane. If approaching from the south, use I-15 exit 16 (UT-9 to Hurricane) and drive 2.7 miles east to the Quail Creek State Park sign (UT-318) then north (left). GPS COORDINATES: 37 11' 27" N, 113 23' 30" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Quail Creek State Park.

NOTES: Fee area with restrooms and handicap access.

(You will find more information on QUAIL CREEK RESERVOIR HERE
and HERE)
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  [14]  SAND HOLLOW RESERVOIR  
Sand Hollow Reservoir is a relatively new Utah State Park. The reservoir is fed by a 56-inch pipe from Quail Creek Reservoir, so water level is at the mercy of the water managers.

Look for Sage Thrasher, Sage Sparrow, and Loggerhead Shrike in the surrounding desert, then for Common Loon, Great Egret, White-winged Scoter, Common Merganser, Osprey, Black-bellied Plover, Long-billed Curlew, Sanderling, and much more during migration seasons. Bendire's Thrasher have been reported from the uplands and Snowy Plover from the shoreline.

We have a short history of birding Sand Hollow, so many more bird species may be added to the list as more birders spend more time in the area. During recent winter months visits from 15-20 waterfowl species have been observed. During migration, 10-15 species of shorebird can be seen on a single trip. Also look for wintering Bald Eagle.

HABITATS: Open water surrounded by sparse desert vegetation.

FEATURED BIRDS: Common Loon, Eared Grebe, Clark's Grebe, Common Tern, and Forster's Tern.

SEASON: During migration.

LOCATION: Drive east on UT-9 for approximately 4 miles from I-15 (exit 16) to the Sand Hollow State Park sign. The Turf Sod Road to the reservoir is across UT-9 from a Chevron Station. This junction is 4.4 miles west of the edge of Hurricane. Proceed south for 1 mile then take the left fork for 2.1 miles to the park entrance. GPS COORDINATES: 37 08' 14" N, 113 21' 06" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Utah State Park

NOTES: This is a new area, not much is known about its value as a birding hotspot.

(You will find more information on SAND HOLLOW RESERVOIR HERE)
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  [15]  LEEDS CREEK TO OAK GROVE CAMPGROUND  
It is approximately 8 miles from I-15 (Leeds/Silver Reef exit 23) to Oak Grove Campground on the Dixie National Forest. The road passes through historic Silver Reef. Oak Grove Campground is at an elevation of 6,800 feet and adjacent to the Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness. The trailhead at the campground offers many options for short birding walks, or long distance backpack trips into the wilderness. The trail to the wilderness area is extremely steep. Birding is good along the road and at the campground. Oak Grove is a good place to find higher elevation species such as Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Steller's Jay, Red Crossbill, Cassin's Finch, and Pine Siskin. Rarities such as Zone-tailed Hawk, Swainson's Thrush, and Hermit Warbler have also been observed. Anna's Hummingbird and White-throated Sparrows have been reported.

HABITATS: Mountain brush and ponderosa pine.

FEATURED BIRDS: Green-tailed Towhee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Pygmy Nuthatch, Grace's Warbler, Black-chinned Sparrow and Western Tanager. Wild Turkey and Northern Goshawk are present but elusive.

SEASON: Best in late spring and summer.

LOCATION: From the north take the Silver Reef exit (#23) from I-15 and follow Forest Service signs to Oak Grove Campground. From the south take I-15 exit 22 and drive through Leeds then follow signs to Silver Reef and Oak Grove Campground. GPS COORDINATES OAK GROVE CAMPGROUND: 37 19' 02" N, 113 27' 11" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Dixie National Forest

NOTES: An interesting stop is at the Leeds Creek kiln that was built in 1890 to produce charcoal for the silver refining process in Silver Reef.

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  [16]  KOLOB FINGERS ROAD  
The Kolob Fingers Canyon Road, in Zion National Park, is easily accessed from I-15 and a good birding choice with spectacular scenery. The drive is 10 miles long (round trip) with several pullouts to look for birds. Birding opportunities occur in several habitat types as the road climbs to 6,200 feet in elevation at its end. Remember, park rules require a stop at the visitor center prior to making the drive.

The best walking trail is the Taylor Creek Trail. The trailhead is 2 miles from the visitor center. The walk will begin and end with some steep trail dropping from the parking lot to the bottom, but then the trail is gentle. This trail continues to be one of the best birding trails in Zion National Park. A birder should walk up the trail until "half tired" then return to the car. The round-trip distance to Double Arch alcove is five miles. Carry an adequate supply of water as summers can be hot in these canyons and the humidity is usually low.

HABITATS: Pinyon-juniper, mountain brush, riparian, ponderosa pine (above 6,000 ft.), and spruce/fir.

FEATURED BIRDS: Mountain Bluebird, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Western Scrub-Jay, and Pinyon Jay.

SEASON: Best during spring and fall migration, but also good birding all year. The higher elevations offer a cool break during hot summer days. The canyon is mostly in the shade during winter months.

LOCATION: The Kolob Fingers Road, (I-15 at Exit 40) is clearly marked and about 20 miles south of Cedar City. GPS COORDINATES: 37 27' 12" N, 113 13' 33" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Zion National Park

NOTES: National Park pass or entrance fee required. Visitor center services and restroom facilities are available. A bird checklist is available upon request.

(You will find more information on KOLOB FINGERS ROAD HERE)
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  [17]  KOLOB TERRACE ROAD TO KOLOB RESERVOIR  
This 25-mile drive (one way) offers a diversity of habitats for birding. Kolob Reservoir offers interesting birding especially during spring migration. Notable stops along the road include: Extensive pinyon-juniper woodlands along the unpaved Smith Mesa Road; the 4-mile roundtrip hike to Northgate Peaks, starting at the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead; the Lava Point area; and Sawmill Spring. The road typically closes for the winter above Maloney Hill.

A good birding walk is the Wildcat Canyon to Northgate Peak trail. This trail is always good for woodpeckers and nuthatches. The Northern Pygmy Owl is a possibility. Also watch for Red Crossbill, Townsend's Solitaire, Townsend's Warbler, Grace's Warbler, and Wild Turkey.

Another easy trail departs from the Lava Point area and goes to Sawmill Springs. The hike is about a 2-mile roundtrip. The trail goes through Gambel's oak and ponderosa pine and is a good area for Red Crossbill, Western Bluebird, Blue Grouse, Wild Turkey and more. There is a possibility for Band-tailed Pigeon.

HABITATS: Blackbrush desert, pinyon-juniper woodland, open rangeland, mountain brush (Gambel's oak), ponderosa pine forests, and aspen-fir forests.

FEATURED BIRDS: Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Wild Turkey, Caspian Tern (Kolob Reservoir), Common Poorwill, Williamson's Sapsucker, Blue Grouse, Dusky Flycatcher, Black-throated Gray Warbler, and Gray Vireo. Lewis's Woodpeckers have been observed at the reservoir.

SEASON: Spring, summer, and fall except when road is closed in mid-winter.

LOCATION: Clearly marked road (Kolob Reservoir sign) headed north from Virgin, Utah. The road continues north from Kolob Reservoir to near Cedar City at I-15 exit 57. However we don't recommend driving north from the reservoir as the road is rough and impassable when wet. GPS COORDINATES KOLOB RESERVOIR: 37 26' 12" N, 113 02' 51" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Mixed public and private, respect private landowner rights.

NOTES: Restrooms at Kolob Reservoir. Gas station in La Verkin.

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  [18]  COALPITS WASH AND GRAFTON  
The Cottonwoods near the junction of the Virgin River and Coalpits Wash is one of the best places to bird near Rockville. The trail up Coalpits Wash provides good birding for the first half mile (from UT-9), and birding around the old Grafton meeting house is good. Look for Bald Eagle (winter), Ferruginous Hawk (winter), Gambel's Quail, Greater Roadrunner, Black Phoebe, Say's Phoebe, Vermilion Flycatcher, Pinyon Jay, Rock Wren, Yellow-breasted Chat, Summer Tanager, Black-chinned Sparrow, Black-throated Sparrow, Scott's Oriole and Lesser Goldfinch.

HABITATS: Pasture, riparian, cottonwood gallery forest and desert shrub.

FEATURED BIRDS: Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Cassin's Kingbird, Lucy's Warbler, Phainopepla, and Blue Grosbeak.

SEASON: Year around.

LOCATION: Coalpits Wash is six miles east of Virgin on UT-9 or 2.6 miles west of Bridge Road in Rockville. To access Grafton, turn south on Bridge Road (200 East) in Rockville drive 1.5 miles taking the right fork at the Y west to Grafton. The left fork goes south by Smithsonian Butte to UT-59. It is 3.2 miles from UT-9 in Rockville to the Adobe Meeting House in Grafton. GPS COORDINATES: 37 26' 8" N, 113 12' 7" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: The ghost town is private property, however, accessible areas are managed by Zion National Park.

NOTES: Mixed public and private land. Please comply with no trespassing signs and respect the historic nature of the Grafton town site.

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  [19]  SPRINGDALE POND  
This is a hotspot for a variety of species, many of them hard to locate elsewhere in the area. Look for Green Heron, Sora, Black Phoebe, Pinyon Jay, Bushtit (winter), Western Bluebird, Phainopepla, Lucy's Warbler, Summer Tanager, Blue Grosbeak, and Lesser Goldfinch. Often, other warbler species are found here.

We recommend parking on Zion Park Boulevard and walking to the pond.

HABITATS: Residential and small pond.

FEATURED BIRDS: Bushtit, Phainopepla, Blue Grosbeak. The Springdale Pond is also good for many migrating warbler species.

SEASON: Year around.

LOCATION: Springdale Pond is located east of the corner of Zion Park Boulevard (UT-9) and Canyon Spring's Road. It is approximately 1.4 miles southwest of the Zion National Park entrance, or 3 miles northeast of Bridge Road in Rockville (see hotspot #18). GPS COORDINATES: 37 11' 16" N, 112 59' 59" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Town of Springdale.

NOTES: Near the Zion Park Inn and Switchback Restaurant in Springdale.

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  [20]  ZION CANYON IN ZION NATIONAL PARK  
Zion National Park, Utah's first national park, was established in 1909. Because of its unique location where the Mojave Desert, the Colorado Plateau, and the Basin and Range provinces intersect, the park includes a wide variety of habitats at various elevations. More than 70% of the native plant species found in Utah have been found in the park. And, over 280 bird species have been identified in the park.

There are many birding hotspots within Zion National Park. Kolob Fingers Canyon, Kolob Reservoir Road and Coalpits Wash have already been discussed. In this hotspot, we feature Zion Canyon. The Zion Canyon bottom and surrounding trails offer an interesting and beautiful area to bird. Stop at the visitor center to get info on the Canyon Overlook Trail, the Weeping Rock Trail, the Emerald Pools Trail, and the Sand Bench Trail. During the main visitor season (April through October) the road is closed to personal vehicles, however the shuttle service is excellent.

When birding the park, look for Wild Turkey from Court of the Patriarchs to Weeping Rock; Spotted Owl in patches of dense forest within the narrow side canyons (Zion's population is one of the largest on the Colorado Plateau); Pygmy Nuthatch on Northgate Peaks Trail; Winter Wren near water, with numbers increasing during early November and holding steady until mid-February before declining; Western Bluebird near meadows; Black-throated Gray Warbler nesting in the Pinyon-juniper woodlands; Crissal Thrasher on Sand Bench Trail; Blue Grosbeak in the lowlands along the Virgin River; Rufous-crowned Sparrow along Pine Creek; and Black-headed Grosbeak, Canyon Wren, Hermit Thrush, Plumbeous Vireo, Cassin's Vireo, and Lesser Goldfinch throughout. Rarities sometimes spotted include Painted Redstart, Common Black-Hawk, Northern Parula, and Bell's Vireo.

HABITATS: Cliffs, lowland riparian, shrub, ponderosa pine.

FEATURED BIRDS: Peregrine Falcon, Wild Turkey, and Gray Vireo.

SEASON: Best during spring and fall migration, but also good for winter birding. During the summer months the canyon may be hot and crowded with tourists, but higher elevations provide good birding and the scenery is always spectacular.

LOCATION: Take exit 16 from I-15 and drive east on UT-9 and follow the clearly signed road 22 miles to the park boundary. The last town before entering the park is Springdale. The park can also be accessed from I-15 exit 27, on UT-17, through Toquerville to La Verkin, then east on UT-9 to the park or from the east on UT-9 from Mount Carmel Junction on US-89. GPS COORDINATES: 37 13' 03" N, 112 58' 27" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Zion National Park.

NOTES: Entrance fee or pass required, visitor center and restroom facilities available. A Park Service shuttle, April through October, allows easy access to the trails above the visitor center. To avoid parking problems, park in the Springdale parking lot for shuttle service. A bird checklist is available upon request. For more information, see www.nps.gov/zion.

(You will find more information on ZION CANYON IN ZION NATIONAL PARK HERE)
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  [21]  YELLOWJACKET CANYON/CORAL PINK SAND DUNES  
Sand Dunes Road is an interesting birding "trail" with numerous places to pull off the road to observe birds. The road passes through several habitat types including the barren sand dunes and ponderosa pine forests.

Birding along Hancock Road is also very good. Visit the Ponderosa Grove Campground about 5 miles from US-89/Hancock Road junction. This is a good area for Pygmy and White-breasted Nuthatch, Juniper Titmouse, Western Bluebird, and more. Watch for Pinyon Jays along the Hancock Road.

HABITATS: Sand dunes with vegetation clumps, riparian, pinyon-juniper woodland, and ponderosa pine forest.

FEATURED BIRDS: Cassin's Kingbird, Western Bluebird, Pygmy Nuthatch, and Gray Vireo.

SEASON: Best during spring and fall migration, but also good for winter birding.

LOCATION: Drive two miles south of Mount Carmel Junction on US-89 then turn right (southwest) on Sand Dunes Road. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is approximately 12 miles from US-89. Hancock Road also goes to the area and junctions with US-89 eight miles north of Kanab. GPS COORDINATES YELLOWJACKET CANYON: 37 02' 47" N, 112 42' 40" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Coral Pink Dunes is a state park. Yellowjacket Canyon is primarily BLM.

NOTES: Facilities and campground services are available. Some areas of the park supports heavy OHV/ORV traffic, use extreme caution when walking in these areas.

(You will find more information on CORAL PINK SAND DUNES HERE)
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  [22]  KANAB CREEK  
Kanab Creek, both north and south of Kanab, offers special birding opportunities. A small stretch of the creek just north of Kanab offers lush willow and cottonwood habitat. A brief hike from the creek to the golf course will add desert birds to the list. Look for Turkey Vulture, Cooper's Hawk, Spotted Sandpiper, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Say's Phoebe, Western Kingbird, Western Wood Pewee, White-throated Swift, Black-throated Sparrow, Blue Grosbeak, Lazuli Bunting, and more.

Kanab Creek south of Kanab forms a canyon of lush riparian vegetation that often attracts birds more common in Arizona. A parking area is located at a trail running north along the creek. Southwestern Willow Flycatchers have been reported along this stretch of riparian habitat.

HABITATS: Canyon cliffs and lowland riparian.

FEATURED BIRDS: Black Phoebe, Barn Owl, Ash-throated Flycatcher, and Black-throated Sparrow.

SEASON: Best during spring and fall migration, but also good for winter birding.

LOCATION: For the area north of Kanab, drive north on US-89 for a short distance and turn left just before crossing the bridge (milepost 67). Park in any of the wide spots along the road. For the area south of Kanab, drive south on UT-11/US-89A for approximately 0.4 miles, turn right at the Kanab Creek Ranchos sign onto Kanab Creek Drive. Drive 0.6 miles, there is a small pullout just after crossing the creek. GPS COORDINATES: 37 01' 43" N, 112 32' 05" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Mixed, respect private property.

NOTES: Nearest facilities are in Kanab.

(You will find more information on KANAB CREEK HERE)
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  [23]  CEDAR BREAKS  
SCedar Breaks National Monument is a huge natural amphitheater. The "breaks" are more than 2,000 feet deep and three miles from rim to rim. The 6-mile scenic drive along the east rim includes 5 parking/view sites. Birding is also good on adjacent Forest Service land.

A trip highlight is the 6-mile Cedar Breaks Scenic Byway. Birding is usually good at the campground and on the trail from the visitor center to the campground. The campground is good for Clark's Nutcracker, Gray Jay, and Pine Grosbeak. Sit at a picnic table and the jays will find you. If you have additional time, check out the Alpine Pond Loop Trail which is two miles long. The Alpine Pond trail is probably the best trail in the monument to find Three-toed Woodpecker, Lincoln's Sparrow, Red Crossbill, and Blue Grouse. Peregrine Falcons nest below the rim and often can be observed from the designated viewing areas. The high elevation meadows offer spectacular wild flower displays in July as well.

The canyon rim has ideal updrafts for fall migrating raptors. Keep looking skyward during migration season. Also, many high elevation nesting birds can be observed in the area, including the Gray-headed race of the Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Goshawk, Steller's Jay, Western Tanager, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Hairy Woodpecker, Hermit Thrush, White-crowned Sparrow, Green-tailed Towhee and more. Look for Blue Grouse along the rim between the visitor center and Alpine Lake. For Blue Grouse also check the aspen stands on the National Forests adjacent to Cedar Breaks.

A large portion of the Dixie National Forest, surrounding the Cedar Breaks National Monument, is very scenic and offers good birding opportunities. Brian Head Peak is discussed as area #24. Additional good birding opportunities exist at Navajo Lake and along Duck Creek. If you would like a longer walk, hike the 8-mile trail around Navajo Lake. Navajo Lake is located approximately 8 miles east on scenic UT-14 from the junction (UT-148) that goes north to the Cedar Breaks and Brian Head Peak. The Navajo Lake trail is good for many species of birds including Red Crossbill, Williamson's Sapsucker and Band-tailed Pigeon.

HABITATS: High elevation sagebrush, mountain meadow, spruce-fir forest, and rock cliffs.

FEATURED BIRDS: Gray Jay, Pine Grosbeak, Three-toed Woodpecker, and Clark's Nutcracker. Northern Goshawk has been reported.

SEASON: Best during summer months.

LOCATION: Exit I-15 at exit 59, then drive 18 miles east of Cedar City on UT-14 (Center Street in Cedar City) to the junction of UT-148, then drive north. Ut-14 is a scenic road that continues east to the Long Valley Junction with US-89. Navajo Lake is east of the UT-148 junction and worth a birding stop. GPS COORDINATES: 37 39' 19" N, 112 50' 04" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Dixie National Forest and Cedar Breaks National Monument.

NOTES: Fee required on National Monument. A bird checklist is available upon request. During winter months, UT-148 is only accessible by snow machine, cross-country skis, or show shoes.

(You will find more information on CEDAR BREAKS HERE)
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  [24]  BRIAN HEAD PEAK  
This is a reliable place to find Utah's high elevation birds. The 11,000+ foot elevation birding provides a sharp contrast to the Mojave Desert birding less than 80 "straight line" miles to the southwest. The best birding opportunities are along the road to the peak and around the parking lot at the end of the road. In addition to the summer birds, many migrating birds use this flyway during the spring and fall. The Northern Pygmy-Owl is a possibility.

On a clear day the view stretches from Mount Trumbull in Arizona to Wheeler Peak in Nevada to the Deep Creek Mountains in Utah. Needless to say the view is spectacular even when birding is slow.

HABITATS: High elevation meadows and spruce-fir forests.

FEATURED BIRDS: American Pipit, Mountain Bluebird, Clark's Nutcracker, Horned Lark, and Vesper Sparrow.

SEASON: Best during summer months.

LOCATION: Drive east on UT-14 from Cedar City (see hotspot #23). Drive approximately 18 miles to UT-148 headed north. Ut-148 junctions with UT-143 before reaching the Brian Head area. Can also be reached by driving south for about 15 miles from Parowan (I-15 exit 75) on UT-143. The road to Brian Head Peak heads east just south of Mammoth Summit (10,418 feet in elevation). GPS COORDINATES: 37 40' 53" N, 112 49' 47" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Primarily Dixie National Forest.

NOTES: UT-148 is closed from early November until late May.

(You will find more information on BRIAN HEAD PEAK HERE)
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Home Utah
Birding
Trails
SW Utah
Birding
Map & Key
Area
Descriptions:
Sites
1-12
Sites
13-24
Sites
25-36
Sites
37-47