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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 37 - 47

Below are area descriptions of:
[37]  Fish Lake Scenic Loop
[38]  Desert Lake Waterfowl Management Area
[39]  Gordon Creek Wildlife Management Area
[40]  Huntington Canyon Scenic Drive
[41]  Ephraim Canyon Road
[42]  Wales Reservoir
[43]  Sevier Bridge Reservoir/Yuba State Park
[44]  Palisade Lake
[45]  Clear Lake WMA
[46]  Gunnison Bend Reservoir
[47]  Chalk Creek


  [37]  FISH LAKE SCENIC LOOP  
The 40-mile loop drive from Loa to Fish Lake, Johnson Valley Reservoir, Mill Meadow Reservoir and back to Loa offers some excellent birding opportunities as well as some spectacular scenery. Expect good birding opportunities on Fish Lake, in the aspen along the shoreline, in the upland sagebrush habitats, in the meadows near the north end of Fish Lake, around Johnson Valley Reservoir, along the Fremont River, and at Mill Meadow Dam.

With a starting mileage (0.0) at the UT-24/UT-25 junction 14 miles west of Loa, mile 4 is the NF boundary, mile 5 is the start of Fish Lake which 5.5 miles long at 8,843 feet in elevation, mile 7.5 is the rustic Fish Lake Lodge. The lodge is a good place for additional information and meals (only open during summer months). The road turns south around Johnson Valley Reservoir, then junctions with UT-72 north of Loa.

There are many access points to the Lakeside Trail along the shoreline of Fish Lake. There are good birding opportunities in Aspen and shrub plant communities along the lake as well as looking for water birds on the lake. In September, the scenery is spectacular, but the birds are not as abundant as during late spring and summer. There are good birding areas near Johnson Valley Reservoir as well as along the upper Fremont River from Johnson Valley Reservoir to the junction with UT-72 north of Loa.

HABITATS: From sagebrush to alpine, including aspen, spruce-fir and mountain meadows.

FEATURED BIRDS: Osprey, Blue Grouse, Western Tanager, Dark-eyed Junco, White-crowned Sparrow, Green-tailed Towhee, and Mountain Bluebird. Various water bird species are featured on the three reservoirs.

SEASON: This high elevation scenic road is good for summer and early fall birding.

LOCATION: To drive the scenic/birding loop, drive 14 miles northwest of Loa on UT-24, then right (northeast) on UT-25. Look for signs to Fish Lake and Fish Lake businesses. It is approximately 20 miles on UT-25 from the UT-24/25 junction, past Fish Lake, to the UT-25/72 junction, then 10 miles back to Loa. This is a 43-mile loop. If driving from Otter Creek State Park (hotspot #29), drive north on UT-62 to the UT-24 junction to Loa, then drive towards Loa to the UT-25 turnoff to Fish Lake. Loa is approximately 20 miles west of Capitol Reef NP (hotspot #35) on UT-24. GPS COORDINATES: 38° 32' 47" N, 111° 42' 25" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Primarily Fishlake National Forest.

NOTES: Consider a stop at Fish Lake Lodge for information, meals and lodging. There is a café at the Bowery Haven Resort (milepost 10 on UT-25) that remains open longer in the fall than some other resorts. There is limited lodging in the Fish Lake area, however, there is a motel at Bicknell, just south of Loa.

(You will find more information on FISH LAKE SCENIC LOOP HERE and
HERE)
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  [38]  DESERT LAKE WATERFOWL MANAGEMENT AREA  
The Desert Lake WMA covers some 2,240 acres. The wetland area is made up of waste water and agricultural runoff. These wetlands are surrounded by very dry desert and bare ground areas, therefore are very attractive to water birds. Viewing is best in the spring and during wet years, as the water is far from the roads during drought years. Also, as this is area is primarily managed for waterfowl and upland game hunting, public access is restricted to the waterfowl season or by appointment. With a scope, some of the open water areas can be viewed from the road around the wetlands.

HABITATS: Sparse desert shrub, open water, and marshlands.

FEATURED BIRDS: Canvasback, Ruddy Duck, Ring-necked Duck, American White Pelican, and Sandhill Crane.

SEASON: Best during spring migration.

LOCATION: From Price, drive south on UT-10 to the Cleveland-Elmo junction, then to the small town of Elmo, then turn south on the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur road to the Waterfowl Management Area. Signs are present. GPS COORDINATES: 39° 21' 46" N, 110° 47' 46" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Utah Division of Wildlife.

NOTES: No facilities.

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  [39]  GORDON CREEK WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA  
Gordon Creek Wildlife Management Area totals 22,690 acres of State, BLM, SITLA (state school lands), and private lands. The habitat is broad benches dissected with steep canyons. This Wildlife Management Area is located at the base of the Castle Valley Ridge in the Gordon Creek drainage due west of Price. The property is managed to protect critical big game winter range, but offers good birding opportunities.

HABITATS: Mountain brush, open meadows, and conifer forests.

FEATURED BIRDS: Green-tailed Towhee, Vesper Sparrow and Hairy Woodpecker.

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

LOCATION: Drive west on U-139 from US-6 between Price and Helper. Gordon Creek WMA begins after crossing the railroad tracks. GPS COORDINATES: 39° 39' 15" N, 110° 55' 03" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: State and federal public lands.

NOTES: This is a good area to view big game during late fall and winter. However, visitors are asked to stay on the established roads during winter months to avoid stressing big game populations. The nearest facilities and services are in Price or Helper.

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  [40]  HUNTINGTON CANYON SCENIC DRIVE  
This 48 mile scenic drive is primarily on the Manti-LaSal NF along UT-31 from Huntington to Fairview. The Wasatch Plateau is an important geographical feature in central Utah as it divides the Colorado Plateau from the Great Basin. Possible side trips include the Eccles Canyon Road to Scofield and Skyline Drive going south to the Joe's Valley-Ephraim Road (hotspot #41). This 30-mile section of Skyline Drive is generally between 10,500 and 10,800 feet in elevation, therefore a summer birding area. Birding along Skyline Drive to the Ephraim Canyon birding trail will take about three hours (some birders will average more than 10 mph). In places the road is rough, the scenic views spectacular and many stops should be made to observe the birds in this alpine setting. This road is not recommended during wet weather. Dry roads are generally expected during late summer and early fall.

Just past the high point of the road heading west towards Fairview is a scenic overlook offering a good view of Mount Nebo and the Sanpete Valley. If interested in Sanpete Valley history, visit the Fairview Museum at 100 North and 100 East in Fairview.

A short side trip to Huntington North Reservoir offers good birding opportunities. This 240 acre reservoir is a haven for waterfowl in a very arid area. Huntington State Park is located on the southwest end of the reservoir, but the best viewing is accessed by driving a quarter mile past the park entrance and walking the shoreline where access is only permitted on foot. Birds observed during a March trip included Ring-billed Gull, Lesser Scaup, Canada Goose, Common Merganser, Common Goldeneye, American Coot, American Wigeon, Gadwall, Pied-billed Grebe, Black-billed Magpie, and Golden Eagle. Other birding spots in the area include Electric Lake, Cleveland Reservoir and Miller's Flat.

HABITATS: Scenic uplands (grasslands, shrublands, and forests), wetlands, riparian, and open water.

FEATURED BIRDS: Golden Eagle, Mountain Bluebird, Horned Lark, and White-crowned Sparrow.

SEASON: Best for summer birding at higher elevations, but good for spring and fall migration. Raptors use the north-south Wasatch Mountain chain as a migration flyway.

LOCATION: Fairview is on US-89 approximately 20 miles north of Ephraim. Huntington is on UT-10 approximately 20 miles south of Price. Scenic UT-31 runs between these towns and is the only paved road over this section of the Wasatch Plateau. GPS COORDINATES: 39° 36' 52" N, 111° 18' 20" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Private, state, and Manti-LaSal National Forest.

NOTES:

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  [41]  EPHRAIM CANYON ROAD  
The Ephraim Canyon Road offers birding from low elevations to alpine. Much of the area is part of the Great Basin Experimental Range (GBER). Studies began at GBER in 1912, making it one of the oldest range research sites in North America. The research was initiated to find ways to control erosion and mud slides that were impacting the towns in the valley. At that time, uncontrolled sheep grazing had denuded most of the area. Enclosures and other evidence of range research are still visible. Snow College in Ephraim currently manages the "old" Great Basin Experimental Range headquarters buildings as the Great Basin Environmental Education Center.

There are many areas to bird while driving up the canyon. Our favorites include Sanpete Overlook where the views are great and birds plentiful. Sanpete Overlook is at an elevation of 8,400 feet and receives 25 inches of precipitation per year. Blue Bell Flat is a short distance above the "old" headquarters site. Blue Bell Flat is at an elevation of 8,900 feet and is good for Mountain Bluebird, Dark-eyed Junco, and White-crowned Sparrow. Before 1900, this area was the site of a thriving dairy and cheese factory. With cattle and sheep grazing, the area was soon overgrazed and high quality forage plants were replaced by plants having little or no livestock food value. Modified grazing has resulted in a marked improvement in plant cover and diversity. At the eastern boundary of the Experimental Range, the Ephraim Canyon Road joins Skyline Drive along the backbone of the Wasatch Plateau. The summit, at an elevation of 10,500 feet, offers opportunities to view many high elevation birds. Drainage to the east is into the Colorado River Basin and to the west into the Great Basin. It is interesting to view some of the ditches in the area where water is transferred from the Colorado River side to the Great Basin side.

HABITATS: Variable from low elevation shrub to alpine meadows. Aspen stands have the best bird diversity.

FEATURED BIRDS: Red-tailed Hawk, Red-naped Sapsucker, Mountain Bluebird, Horned Lark, and Dark-eyed Junco.

SEASON: Best during summer nesting and fall migration seasons.

LOCATION: In Ephraim, drive east from US-89 on 400 South to 300 East, then turn right (south) on the Ephraim Canyon gravel road. GPS COORDINATES: 39° 19' 20" N, 111° 26' 34" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Manti-LaSal National Forest.

NOTES: Eat and fill the gas tank in Ephraim as no other facilities are available. Carry water during summer months.

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  [42]  WALES RESERVOIR  
Wales Reservoir provides a quick stop when birding in the Sanpete County area. Large numbers of waterfowl and shorebirds us the area during migration.

HABITATS: Open water, wetlands, and agriculture.

FEATURED BIRDS: Numerous waterfowl

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

LOCATION: Wales Reservoir is located between the small towns of Moroni and Wales, Sanpete County. Take 300 West in Moroni and go south to the first road past the turnoff to the feed mill, then turn right (west) to the reservoir. From Wales, go east on 300 North. Turn left (north) at the T and then right (east) on the Wales Reservoir Road. GPS COORDINATES: 39° 30' 14" N, 111° 37' 13" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Private.

NOTES: Respect private landowner rights, bird from the road, or open access points.

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  [43]  SEVIER BRIDGE RESERVOIR/YUBA STATE PARK  
This reservoir provides a diversion if traveling I-15. A stop to view the reservoir near the dam offers the opportunity to see many waterfowl and other water birds during migration. This is a long narrow reservoir, so more time can be spent driving UT-78 from I-15 exit 202 to Levan, then south on UT-28 to Fayette. There are limited access points along the portion of the road as it runs east of the reservoir. At the junction of UT-28 and US-89, it is only a short drive north to Palisade Reservoir (hotspot #44).

HABITATS: Open water, wetlands, and arid uplands.

FEATURED BIRDS: Numerous waterfowl and other water birds.

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

LOCATION: If traveling south on I-15, take exit #202 which is about 25 miles south of Nephi and drive south on the "old" highway access road. If traveling north, the "old" highway is accessed from exit #188 at Scipio. This section of the "old" highway crosses the reservoir dam and parallels I-15. GPS COORDINATES: 39° 22' 17" N, 112° 01' 59" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Private and state.

NOTES:

(You will find more information on YUBA STATE PARK HERE)
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  [44]  PALISADE LAKE  
Birding is good in the Pioneer Campground where there are large trees. From the Arapeen Campground walk on the trail to the undeveloped side of the lake. The lake is small therefore a walk around the lake is easy. Also, the wetlands below the dam and near the boat ramp are good. The area was called Funk's Lake until the name was changed in the 1920's. A side trip to Gunnison Reservoir can also be a productive birding event. The road to Gunnison Reservoir goes west just south of the Palisade Road which goes east into the State Park (from US-89 south of Manti). There are several access points along the road west of the reservoir.

HABITATS: Open water, wetlands, lowland riparian.

FEATURED BIRDS: Belted Kingfisher, Western Tanager.

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

LOCATION: Drive on US-89 from Gunnison to Sterling. Just north of 200 North in Sterling, go two miles east on signed road to Palisade Lake SP. The road to Gunnison Reservoir goes west between 200 North and Palisade Road. GPS COORDINATES: 39° 12' 11" N, 111° 40' 01" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Palisade State Park.

NOTES: Camping, but no motor boats.

(You will find more information on PALISADE LAKE HERE)
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  [45]  CLEAR LAKE WMA  
Birding in the Delta, Utah, area and south to Clear Lake Wildlife Management Area is featured for its large Snow Goose numbers in March. Birding at other times of the year is also good. Refer to hotspot #46, Gunnison Bend Reservoir, for additional information on March birding for Snow and Ross's Geese. Most of the Clear Lake Waterfowl Management area is closed during the bird nesting season, however some excellent observation points remain open. Clear Lake Wildlife Management area consists of 6,190 acres of open water, wetlands, and uplands with some cultivated food plots. The property was purchased in the 1930s to provide quality wetland habitat for wildlife. Expect to observe various waterfowl and shorebird species along with Northern Harrier, American White Pelican, Long-billed Curlew and more on the marsh and open water areas. The surrounding uplands are good for Ferruginous Hawk, Golden Eagle, Prairie Falcon, Bald Eagle (winter), and Rough-legged Hawk (winter).

HABITATS: Open water, marsh, agriculture and upland desert shrub.

FEATURED BIRDS: Various waterfowl and shorebird species.

SEASON: Best during spring and fall migration, but good for winter populations of raptors.

LOCATION: To reach the Clear Lake Wildlife Management Area, drive 5 miles west of Delta on US-50/6 then turn south on UT-257. The turnoff to Clear Lake is 14.8 miles south of the UT-257/US-50 junction. The first good waterfowl viewing area is 6 miles east of UT-257 on a signed road to the WMA. GPS COORDINATES: 39° 07' 09" N, 112° 37' 20" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Utah Waterfowl Management Area.

NOTES: No restrooms or service facilities. Vehicle access is limited. Check with UDWR at 435-864-3200 for more information on access and conditions at Clear Lake WMA.

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  [46]  GUNNISON BEND RESERVOIR  
Gunnison Bend reservoir, near Delta, is the primary point to observe the thousands of Snow Geese that visit the area each March. Also good for the few Ross's Geese mixed in with the Snow Geese. Driving the roads near the reservoir and in nearby agricultural lands will provide an opportunity to see wintering raptors and other birds.

HABITATS: Open water, marsh, agriculture.

FEATURED BIRDS: Snow Goose and Ross's Goose.

SEASON: Good during spring and fall migration, but featured for March when large flocks of Snow Geese are in the area.

LOCATION: Gunnison Bend Reservoir is on the Sevier River just west of Delta. Drive west of Delta on US-50/6 for 2 miles from the stoplight at 200 West and Main, then make a right turn and drive another mile. GPS COORDINATES: 39° 20' 53" N, 112° 37' 08" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Private, State, and BLM

NOTES: There is more information on the Snow Goose Festival HERE.

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  [47]  CHALK CREEK  
Birding along the Chalk Creek road is very good as it goes through a scenic, narrow, riparian canyon. The diversity of habitats from lowland riparian to mountain brush uplands and rock outcrops makes this a good area for a variety of Utah birds. A sampling of bird possibilities include Yellow Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Warbling Vireo, Sage Thrasher, Mountain Chickadee, Western Tanager, Townsend's Solitaire, plus Brewer's, Vesper, and Lark Sparrows.

HABITATS: Oakbrush, pinyon-juniper, cottonwood riparian, and rocky cliffs.

FEATURED BIRDS: Steller's Jay, Green-tailed Towhee, Violet-green Swallow, and several warbler species.

SEASON: May through October.

LOCATION: From Main Street in Fillmore, turn east on 200 South (Canyon Road). It is approximately 2.5 miles to the Fishlake National Forest Boundary, then approximately four miles to the end of Forest Road 100 at Pistol Rock Picnic Area. GPS COORDINATES: 38° 56' 04" N, 112° 13' 53" W

LAND OWNERSHIP: Fishlake National Forest.

NOTES: Narrow, steep gravel surfaced road, drive carefully.

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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