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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 25 - 36

Below are area descriptions of:
[25]  Minersville Reservoir
[26]  Indian Creek
[27]  Beaver Canyon Scenic Drive
[28]  Hepplers Ponds
[29]  Otter Creek Reservoir
[30]  Bryce Canyon National Park
[31]  Kodachrome Basin State Park
[32]  Escalante State Park
[33]  Calf Creek Falls Trail
[34]  Boulder Mountain
[35]  Fremont River IBA
[36]  Bicknell Bottoms


  [25]  MINERSVILLE RESERVOIR  
Minersville Reservoir and Minersville County Park are often featured on the birding hotline as the location attracts rare migrants. Minersville Reservoir is a 1,130-acre reservoir at 5,500 feet in elevation. The dam was constructed in 1914. The Beaver County Park is 207 acres with camping and other facilities and open April through November. This area was recently transferred from a state park to a county park. Regulations and facilities might change with this "new" management.

Water in the reservoir is used for irrigation and thus the level varies. The 1999-2003 drought resulted in very low water levels and decreased birding opportunities. Often there are excellent birding opportunities along the county roads near Adamsville at the north end of the reservoir. Also, birding below the dam is often rewarding. In addition to waterfowl, other water birds, shorebirds, and raptors, keep a look out for Wild Turkey.

HABITATS: Open water and lowland riparian.

FEATURED BIRDS: Osprey, Caspian Tern, Common Loon, Great-tailed Grackle, Bald Eagle (winter), and all three merganser species. Large mixed-species flocks of swallows use the reservoir area in the fall.

SEASON: Best during spring and fall migration, but can be good all year.

LOCATION: Take I-15, Exit 112, in Beaver and drive southwest on UT-21 for 11 miles to the Minersville Reservoir turnoff. The road to Adamsville goes north approximately 2 miles before the county park junction. GPS COORDINATES: 38 13' 02" N, 112 49' 19" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Formerly Minersville State Park, but was recently turned over to Beaver County and the long-term status is unknown.

NOTES:

(You will find more information on MINERSVILLE STATE PARK HERE)
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  [26]  INDIAN CREEK  
The drive up Indian Creek is scenic and includes some upland as well as riparian birding. At the Indian Creek Junction sign, set trip mileage to 0.0. At mile 3.2, an irrigation ditch runs on the right (south) side of the road through sagebrush uplands. Often birds of the sagebrush-steppe habitat type concentrate along this ditch. At mile 3.6, park next to the road and walk down a short steep trail (unimproved road) to a good riparian area along Indian Creek. Mile 4.2 is the next opportunity to bird in a cottonwood riparian area. The lowland cottonwood riparian type occurs along Indian Creek from mile 4.2 to mile 5.4 before the creek rises to an elevation not suitable for cottonwood trees. Birding is good at the Mill Hollow road junction (sign) at mile 8.0. This may be as far as you would like to travel up Indian Creek as the road gets rougher from this point on to Manderfield Reservoir. The Mill Hollow road junction is a good place to walk around through high elevation sagebrush, mountain meadow, and aspen types for Tree Swallow, Mountain Chickadee, Western Wood Pewee, Dusky Flycatcher, Dark-eyed Junco, White-crowned Sparrow, and more.

HABITATS: Cottonwood Riparian, sagebrush-steppe, aspen, and spruce-fir.

FEATURED BIRDS: Western Scrub-Jay, Pinyon Jay, Steller's Jay, and various riparian species.

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

LOCATION: The Indian Creek Road is 7 miles north of Beaver, or approximately 2 miles south of the I-15 exit 120 to Manderfield. Look for the Indian Creek Road sign. From the Beaver I-15 exit 112, drive 0.5 miles to the Manderfield road, then 6.8 miles north. The Indian Creek Road is gravel and good for passenger cars for approximately 10 miles before becoming a 4-wheeled drive, high clearance, vehicle road. GPS COORDINATES: 38 25' 29" N, 112 31' 28" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: BLM and private to mile 4.6, then Fishlake National Forest.

NOTES: Scenic vistas along the road offer great views of the Tushar Mountain range with peaks over 12,000 feet in elevation.

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  [27]  BEAVER CANYON SCENIC DRIVE  
The first 17-mile drive on UT-153 from Beaver to Elk Meadows is paved as it climbs into the Tushar Mountains. Colorful aspen and maples beautify fall scenes. Facilities and restaurant are available at Elk Meadows Ski and Summer Resort. The 20 miles from Elk Meadows to Junction (where UT-153 joins US-89) includes 14 miles of gravel road, but passable in the summer and very scenic in the fall with good birding opportunities.

Set trip odometer at 0.0 at the junction of Main Street and UT-153 in Beaver. There is a lowland riparian area and the Fishlake National Forest boundary pullout at mile 4.3. The Ponderosa Picnic site, mile 8.9, offers good birding in a Ponderosa Pine and riparian habitat. This is a fee area at $3.00 per day, so not worth the fee if plans are for only a few minutes of birding. At milepost 15 is the junction to Jimmy Reed Trail and good birding in high mountain sagebrush, aspen, and meadow types. Pavement ends at milepost 23 and appears again in 14 miles. An option is to take FS-137 and loop back to Beaver (25 miles). We suggest stopping at the Forest Service Ranger Station in Beaver for a detailed map if your plans including driving on other Forest Service roads. While crossing the high mountain meadows look for Mountain Bluebird, Blue Grouse, Clark's Nutcracker, Lincoln's Sparrow, and more. Black Rosy-Finch are easier to see during the winter at lower elevations, however there is a possibility on their nesting grounds. The best opportunity for Rosy-Finch and many other high elevation birds is to take the left turn at Elk Meadows to Elk Meadows Lodge, park, hike up the Mt. Holly and/or Delano Peak trail. It is a 3-6 mile hike, one way, to gain the 2,000 feet in elevation needed to reach Black Rosy-Finch nesting habitat.

HABITATS: Variable from riparian to high elevation forest and meadow.

FEATURED BIRDS: Mountain Bluebird, Clark's Nutcracker, Warbling Vireo, Western Tanager, and Black-headed Grosbeak.

SEASON: Best during spring and fall migration at the lower elevations, but good during the summer at the higher elevations.

LOCATION: UT-153 can be reached from either I-15 exit 109 or 112 to Beaver. Drive east on UT-153 from Beaver. From downtown Beaver, 200 North headed east becomes UT-153. GPS COORDINATES: 38 18' 50" N, 112 21' 49" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Fishlake National Forest after 5 miles of private property.

NOTES: Beaver is a good place to inquire about Robert LeRoy Parker (Butch Cassidy) if interested in western history.

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  [28]  HEPPLERS PONDS  
The Hepplers Ponds provide a good birding diversion as a side trip north on US-89 after reaching Junction on UT-153 from Beaver (see Beaver Canyon Scenic Drive, #27) or if driving I-70 and need a break around the Richfield area. The three ponds provide a good migratory stopover area for water birds. There is a large Great Blue Heron rookery in cottonwood trees about one mile west of Hepplers Ponds, but visible from the ponds.

HABITATS: Open water, marsh, and agricultural lands.

FEATURED BIRDS: Migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. Northern Harrier, Bald Eagle (winter) and a Great Blue Heron rookery.

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

LOCATION: From US-89 on the east outskirts of Richfield take Glenwood Road (UT-119), then go south on Hepplers Pond Road about one mile to the first of three major ponds. From Annabella, go north on 600 East which leads to the Hepplers Pond Road. From I-70 exit 40, go east to Glenwood Road (UT-119) then 2.4 miles to the Hepplers Pond Road (Hepplers Pond Road may not be signed). GPS COORDINATES: 38 45' 01" N, 112 01' 29" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Private

NOTES: No facilities.

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  [29]  OTTER CREEK RESERVOIR  
Otter Creek Reservoir is formed by one of the oldest dam projects in Utah, constructed in 1897-1898. This dam is on a major migratory route for birds and may be excellent during the migration seasons.

Otter Creek State Park is a fee area and not worth the fee unless an overnight camp is scheduled. There are several access points along the west side of Otter Creek Reservoir. Most have signs from UT-62. Fisherman's Beach is about half way from the dam to the north end of the reservoir (between milepost 13 and 14). Another good spot to scope the reservoir is at Tamarisk Point near milepost 15. During migration, waterfowl often tend to be more concentrated at the upper end of the reservoir. As water levels vary, the location of the "upper end" also varies. However, all access points provide good birding with a scope.

HABITATS: Open water and sagebrush upland.

FEATURED BIRDS: Common Loon, American White Pelican, and various waterfowl.

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

LOCATION: Otter Creek Reservoir is just east of UT-62, 20 miles south of Koosharem or 11 miles east of the UT-62/US-89 junction. Also, from UT-22 drive four miles north of Antimony for Otter Creek State Park, then to the junction with UT-62 for access on the west shore of Otter Creek Reservoir. GPS COORDINATES: 38 12' 50" N, 111 59' 16" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: BLM and Otter Creek State Park.

NOTES: Restroom facility at Fisherman's Beach as well as other sites. Campground facilities are available at Otter Creek State Park.

(You will find more information on OTTER CREEK STATE PARK HERE and
HERE)
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  [30]  BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK  
During the main visitor season, Bryce Canyon National Park offers a shuttle service to observation overlooks and trailheads along the road. We like this service as the rim trails can be birded one-way without backtracking. Birding around the campground is also good.

Bryce Canyon National Park is famous for its unique geology, consisting of a series of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters. Bizarre geologic shapes include slot canyons, windows, fins, and spires called "hoodoos". These whimsically arranged rocks create a wondrous landscape of mazes, offering some of the most exciting and memorable walks and hikes. At higher elevations you will find ponderosa pine and spruce/fir forests. Along the rim you may see an 'ancient' bristlecone pine.

The North and Sunset campgrounds are located within walking distance of the main amphitheater and visitor service amenities. All the view points offer spectacular views. If time allows a drive to the south end of the park is most rewarding. The trails within the main amphitheater are shorter (average 1-6 miles) and take you past many named features. The Fairyland hike just north of Sunrise point is longer (8-9 miles) and provides a more secluded experience as do the hikes towards the south end of the park. Be sure to check at the visitor center for trail conditions, since some trails may be closed due to weather or recent erosion. Also seek cover during lighting storms, you will notice there are numerous trees along the rim and trails that have recently been struck by lighting.

While hiking keep your eyes open for the different wildlife found in the park. There are opportunities to see mule deer, lizards and snakes, rabbits, the occasional ring-tailed cat or gray fox, and a multitude of bird species. Along the rim you can watch the Common Ravens practicing their aerial maneuvers or sunning themselves on top of a hoodoo. On rare occasions the park is visited by the recently released California Condors. From view points look for Peregrine Falcon or even an Osprey or Golden Eagle. Other raptors include Red-tailed Hawk and Northern Goshawk. Various owl species have also been observed within the park. At the visitor center you can pick up a bird checklist that lists over 100 species of birds found at Bryce Canyon.

Please remember to keep your distance from wildlife to avoid harassing the animals while in the park. The park keeps a wildlife sighting database, so please report any unusual sightings at the visitor center to help keep the park informed. For more information about Bryce Canyon National Park please visit the park's website at www.nps.gov/brca.

Birds are easy to find at most of the parking areas, pullouts, campgrounds and the visitor center. Common birds include Steller's Jay, Mountain Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Pygmy Nuthatch, and Clark's Nutcracker. Near the south end of the park drive, the elevation increases and mixed conifer and aspen habitats occur.

HABITATS: Conifer forest and barren cliffs.

FEATURED BIRDS: Peregrine Falcon, Blue Grouse, Dusky Flycatcher, Mountain Chickadee, Western Bluebird, and Red Crossbill.

SEASON: Best for summer birding.

LOCATION: Drive east on UT-12 from US-89 (approximately 7 miles north of Hatch). UT-63 into Bryce Canyon is well marked and turns south from UT-12 about 12 miles east of US-89. GPS COORDINATES: 37 28' 29" N, 112 14' 25" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Bryce Canyon National Park.

NOTES: A National Park pass or park fee is required. Stop at the visitor center for maps and a bird checklist. Also check out the shuttle service as a means of transportation through the park.

(You will find more information on BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK HERE)
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  [31]  KODACHROME BASIN STATE PARK  
Kodachrome Basin was once known as Thorley's Pasture. It was renamed by the National Geographic Society in 1949. The 2,241-acre park averages 5,800 feet in elevation. There is a 0.4-mile nature trail pick up guide map when entering the park. At Trailhead Station there is a concession where supplies and stagecoach rides are available. Accommodations at Trailhead Station are excellent and a central location for birding Kodachrome Basin, Bryce Canyon, and to a lesser degree, Calf Creek. Information can be obtained by calling 435-679-8536. The 3-mile Panorama Trail is through gentle terrain from the Visitor's Center and offers good birding opportunities.

In addition to upland habitat types, there are a few very small riparian areas that owe their existence to small water seeps. Look for Prairie Falcon, Northern Harrier, Golden Eagle, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Northern Mockingbird, Juniper Titmouse, Brewer's Sparrow, Black-chinned Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, and more.

HABITATS: Agriculture, desert shrub, and pinyon-juniper woodlands.

FEATURED BIRDS: Chukar, Pinyon Jay, Black-chinned Sparrow, and Juniper Titmouse.

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

LOCATION: UT-12 is one of the most scenic drives in the country. Several of the birding hotspots listed in this map are along UT-12. Kodachrome Basin is east of Bryce Canyon (site #30). The road to Kodachrome Basin is approximately 12 miles east of the UT-63 junction to Bryce Canyon at Cannonville. From Cannonville drive seven miles south on Cottonwood Canyon Road. GPS COORDINATES: 37 31' 47" N, 112 02' 37" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Kodachrome Basin State Park.

NOTES: During cool weather in the spring and late fall, the many trails to spectacular rock formations makes for a worthwhile adventure.

(You will find more information on KODACHROME BASIN STATE PARK HERE)
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  [32]  ESCALANTE STATE PARK  
Stop at the visitor center to pick up a map of trails. The primary attraction for the park is the extensive deposits of petrified wood. The area is typical of the Upper Sonoran life zone.

Included in this stop is the adjacent Wide Hollow Reservoir. The reservoir is good for water birds, especially during spring and fall migration. The reservoir can be viewed from the road crossing the dam and from the boat launch ramp.

HABITATS: Open water, Cottonwood riparian, pinyon-juniper, and associated arid landscapes.

FEATURED BIRDS: Chuckar, and various waterfowl.

SEASON: Best during spring and fall migration.

LOCATION: Drive one mile west of Escalante, then north one mile on Wide Hollow Road. GPS COORDINATES: 37 47' 13" N, 111 38' 15" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: State park.

NOTES: Not much is known about this area from a birding perspective.

(You will find more information on ESCALANTE STATE PARK HERE)
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  [33]  CALF CREEK FALLS TRAIL  
Calf Creek is a perennial stream with lush wetland as well as cottonwood vegetation. Several side canyons support oaks and junipers. Although the entire area is good birding, two areas stand out. First, the campground is often very productive and is easily accessible. The second area is near the Lower Calf Creek Falls and requires a walk of nearly three miles 5.5 miles round trip. Lower Calf Creek Falls are a 126-foot waterfall. Although birding is good along the entire trail, it is best along the upper two-thirds of the trail. If camping overnight, listen for Common Poorwill. During the day, look for Western Bluebird, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Peregrine Falcon, Canyon Wren, Orange-crowned Warbler, Bullock's Oriole, and Lesser Goldfinch.

HABITATS: Lowland riparian and stream.

FEATURED BIRDS: Peregrine Falcon, Yellow-breasted Chat, and Gray Flycatcher.

SEASON: Best during spring and fall migration, but also good birding most of the year. Because the area can get quite hot during summer days, carry adequate drinking water when hiking the trail.

LOCATION: Calf Creek Recreation Area is about half way between Escalante and Boulder on UT-12. The turn into the parking area is well signed. GPS COORDINATES: 37 47' 31" N, 111 24' 52" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: BLM

NOTES: Fee area.

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  [34]  BOULDER MOUNTAIN  
The 120-mile UT-12 is often referred to as one of the most scenic drives in the nation. The Escalante to Torrey section over Boulder Mountain includes 57 miles of spectacular scenery. Additional sites along UT-12 are described in areas labeled Bryce Canyon, Kodachrome Basin, Escalante State Park, and Calf Creek Recreation Area. Escalante to Torrey is primarily a summer only road as it reaches 10,000 plus feet in elevation.

It is not possible to stop at all of the scenic overlooks unless you have a week to go from Escalante to Torrey. A good birding and scenic area is the Homestead Overlook which is 11 miles north of Boulder and located at 9,400 feet in elevation. Approximately 8.5 miles past Homestead Overlook is another not-to-be-missed overlook called Larb Hollow. Great views of Waterpocket Fold and Capitol Reef are offered along the road. Between Homestead and Larb Hollow overlooks some good birding opportunities are along Pleasant Creek near Pleasant Creek Campground and at the Wildcat Information Center. Near the Pleasant Creek Campground FS-186 heads east toward Lower Bowns Reservoir. This improved gravel road offers opportunities for woodpeckers, nuthatches and other high elevation forest birds. In recent years Acorn Woodpeckers have been reported from a ponderosa pine snag west of UT-12 and 3.7 miles north of Boulder, Utah.

HABITATS: Mountain meadow, ponderosa pine, aspen, and spruce/fir.

FEATURED BIRDS: Wild Turkey, Steller's Jay, Hermit Thrush, Three-toed Woodpecker, Northern Goshawk, and three species of nuthatches.

SEASON: This high elevation area is best for summer birding.

LOCATION: Boulder Mountain is accessed along the 57 miles of UT-12 between Boulder and Torrey. GPS COORDINATES: 38 00' 43" N, 111 21' 32" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Dixie National Forest.

NOTES: We suggest a stop at the Forest Service Ranger Station in Escalante for maps and additional information.

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  [35]  FREMONT RIVER IBA  
This birding area was recently designated the Fremont River Important Birding Area (IBA). The Fremont River flows from west to east for 14 miles across the Waterpocket Fold within Capitol Reef National Park. The river flows in a deep gorge through Miners Mountain, then slows down through the historic community of Fruita, and finally cuts through a sandstone canyon along UT-24 the remaining distance through the park. The riparian vegetation varies from dense willow thickets to gallery cottonwood forests. The best birding is in the spring in the riparian and orchard habitats. At least 165 of the 225 species of birds recorded in Capitol Reef NP have been observed along this stretch of the Fremont River. The Fremont River provides some of the best riparian habitat for migratory birds as they travel along the western side of the Canyonlands area. High elevation nesting birds also use the Fremont River corridor to move from the 11,000 foot mountains to the west to the 4,000 foot deserts to the east.

Recommended birding areas include the picnic area, campgrounds, and orchards at Fruita, the riparian habitat near the one-room rock Behunin Cabin (once home to a family of 10), along the one-mile nature trail from the Hickman Bridge parking area, and adjacent to UT-24 as the road parallels the Fremont River. Another good scenic and birding drive is the 25-mile round trip Scenic Drive into the park. Also the short trail to Gooseneck Overlook is worthwhile.

Capitol Reef National park was established to showcase geologic features. The primary geologic feature is Waterpocket Fold, the largest exposed monocline in North America. The park consists of 242,000 acres, most being very remote. In addition to the birds, there are over 40 endemic plant species and numerous other animals, including desert bighorn sheep, in the park.

In addition to great birding for Utah's more common birds, look for rarities like the eastern migrating warblers (Hooded, Northern Parula, and others) and for Lazuli x Indigo Bunting hybrids. Yellow-billed Cuckoos are occasionally reported along the river.

HABITATS: Riparian, Agriculture, pinyon-juniper, and rock cliff.

FEATURED BIRDS: Peregrine Falcon, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Blue Grosbeak, Virginia Warbler, Gray Catbird, and Black Rosy-Finch (erratic during winter).

SEASON: Year long with more birds during migration seasons.

LOCATION: Drive 12 miles east of Torrey on UT-24 or drive west from Green River on I-70 to exit 147 then south on UT-24 for a total of 85 miles to the park. GPS COORDINATES: 38 17' 07" N, 111 14' 46" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Capitol Reef National Park

NOTES: Check visitor center for maps and information related to roads, trails, and camping.

(You will find more information on CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK HERE)
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  [36]  BICKNELL BOTTOMS  
The Bicknell Bottoms, along the Fremont River, is an area rich in birds. The area is diverse as it includes river riparian areas mixed with wetlands and agricultural areas. Bicknell Bottoms are the remnants of an old shallow lake bed (Red Lake) that has silted in and is now covered with cattails and reeds with enough open water to promote waterfowl use. Part of the area is managed by the state as a wildlife management area (WMA). The best way to bird the area is to walk along the half-mile of road that overlooks the marsh.

The 670-acre Bicknell Bottoms WMA is mostly wetland habitat with a good mixture of open water and marshland vegetation. A birder can expect to see many species of water loving birds as well as a few surprises. Unless floated by a canoe, the birding is done primarily from the road at various view points. A spotting scope is desirable.

HABITATS: Lowland riparian and wetlands mixed with agricultural and livestock grazing areas.

FEATURED BIRDS: Marsh Wren, Northern Harrier, Southwestern Willow Flycatcher and various waterfowl species.

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

LOCATION: Drive southeast on UT-24 from Bicknell for 2.5 miles, then turn right (south on Aquarius Plateau Road) to the Fremont River. Continue on this road to the UDWR property (about one mile). There is also access to the Fremont River by going south for about 2 miles from 400 West in Bicknell. GPS COORDINATES: 38 18' 20" N, 111 31' 12" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Portions of Bicknell Bottoms are managed by UDWR and are marked with signs on the perimeter fences. Foot access is permitted on UDWR land. Surrounding bottomlands are privately owned with no access. The BLM manages some of the uplands to the south and west.

NOTES: The nearest facilities and services are in Bicknell.

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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