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What Utah's national forests have to offer this Labor Day

By Camilla Stimpson, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Aug 29th, 2018 @ 3:31pm



THE GREAT OUTDOORS — Utah is a one-of-a-kind state with its arches, red rocks, dozens of hiking trails and mountains. People from around the world come here to enjoy the beautiful scenery and national parks.

One Utah treasure that is often overlooked by locals and tourists alike is its five national forests located throughout the state. With fall coming and the leaves changing, these are attractions you do not want to overlook.

Anyone who is just driving through a national forest won't have to pay an entrance fee, but there is a fee associated with using any facilities like picnic tables, campsites or bathrooms. At Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, a three-day pass costs $6 and a seven-day pass is $10.

Here’s what you can enjoy at each of Utah’s five national forests:

Ashley National Forest

Established in 1908, a wide variety of sceneries can be found within Ashley National Forest. Stretching across eastern Utah and into Wyoming, visitors can see a lot of lakes, rivers, forests and mountains while visiting this national forest. Campers can choose from 23 campsites and enjoy hiking, picnicking, fishing, horseback riding, boating, off-roading and more.

Ashley National Forest is home to Utah’s highest peak, Kings Peak, as well as the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, Moon Lake, Sheep Creek Canyon and the High Uinta Wilderness.

Ashley National Forest headquarters are located in Vernal at 355 N. Vernal Ave.

Dixie National Forest

Dixie National Forest is one of the best places to be if you love mountains. Located close to Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon national parks, this forest is often overlooked. Powell Point, Upper Death Hollow, Kings Pasture and Cascade Falls are just some of the cliffs that call Dixie National Forest home. Most peaks in the forest are 10,000 feet or higher.

This national forest is covered in aspen trees, making it a perfect spot to visit during the fall to get an up-close view of the changing leaves. Dixie National Forest is also home to unique sceneries such as lava fields and Anasazi ruins. Visitors can camp, hike, bike and off-road on multiple trails at their leisure.

Dixie National Forest is in southwest Utah and much of its scenery can be seen driving on state Route 12 across Boulder Mountain.

Fishlake National Forest

Located in central Utah, Fishlake National Forest has a vast array of paths for off-roading. These trails lead to beautiful views of the tree-covered mountains and let visitors experience the forest up close.

Fish Lake, from which the forest takes its name, is the largest natural mountain lake in the state, according to the US. Forest Service website. Anglers who visit have often returned home with trophy fish. The forest is also home to many wildlife, including birds, which draws birdwatchers from throughout the state.

Fishlake National Forest headquarters are located at 115 E. 900 North in Richfield.

Manti-La Sal National Forest

Manti-La Sal National Forest is every outdoorsman’s dream. Dozens of activities are available here, including horseback riding, camping, off-roading, hiking, water skiing, boating, hunting, mountain and rock climbing, fishing, hiking and more. For those who may not be too keen on the outdoors, Manti-La Sal also has multiple scenic driving routes available for those who want to enjoy the forest scenery from the comfort of their own car. Interstate 70 also cuts through the forest.

History buffs should be aware that the forest also contains over 5,000 known archeological sites dating from 10,000 years ago to the mid-1900s, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

This national forest stretches from the Abajos and La Sals in southeastern Utah to the Wasatch Plateau and Sanpitch mountains hundreds of miles away in central Utah.

Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest

This national forest takes up a large chunk of northern Utah and borders the Ashley National Forest. It offers dozens of hiking trails including to Timpanogos Cave and Logan Cave, China Meadows Trailhead and Timpooneke Trail. Other famous attractions are the Alpine Loop, Aspen Grove Trail and Strawberry Narrows Trail.

Picnic areas are widely available in these areas and are often accompanied by campgrounds and horseback riding trails. Other activities include snowmobiling, tubing, fishing, mountain biking and boating.

The exact locations for each attraction can be found on the U.S. Forest Service website.


Camilla Stimpson enjoys reporting on politics, crimes, and her own awkward moments on 50shadesofawkward.com. When not writing, she can be found watching '30 Rock' or 'The Office,' napping, planning trips she can't afford and googling dogs she can't have.

Camilla Stimpson

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Updated: Monday September 24, 2018 10:38 pm