Whether traveling north or south from Marysvale on Highway 89, we are assured of a picturesque journey. Today we head south. Just past Circleville, we pass the childhood home of Butch Cassidy then in less then two hours we arrive at Utah Scenic Highway 12. From here we can turn east toward Bryce Canyon and Grand Staircase-Escalante. To the west lies Scenic Highway 14 which bisects the Dixie National Forest with its numerous and varied attractions.
Utah Scenic Highway 14
The first time Storm and I traveled across Utah Scenic Highway 14, snow blanketed all but the narrow black ribbon of pavement unfurling through the tranquil forest in front of us. Snowy bulwarks blocked departure from the main road or entry to park sights. That first trip occurred in early May so we were not expecting that kind of glacial resistance. We hope our Memorial Weekend trip allows us to finally discover the many gems this forest conceals in the winter.
This year, a clamorous parade of ATV riders emits a billowing cloud of dust directing us toward Mammoth Cave. This huge lava tube is home to a species of bats during winter and several species of tourists in the summer. Compared to the California lava tubes Terrie led us through a couple years ago, this one was a bit crowded. The website describes this cave as huge with 2200 feet of passages. To enter the cave, folks are rolling through a restrictive 3′ x 4′ opening in the gate near the floor. Storm and I can’t see past the crowd of folks just inside the entrance. I am not excited about being trapped with a crowd in a dark cave offering only a tiny opening through which to escape. Instead we chose to admire the tunnel entrance then join Jim Brown up top to continue our exploration of this forest elsewhere.
Next we navigate to Cascade Falls. This lava tube gathers water from Navajo Lake and expels it from the mountainside. After lunching in a alpine forest-like glen, Storm and Jim decide a Jeep Siesta is in order. I hike the 1.5 mile round trip to the falls and back. While on the ledge path leading to the falls, I find myself in a spring-time snowstorm. I pass other shivering hikers dressed in only shorts and tank tops. I am wearing “non-ventilated” jeans and a jacket, proving that lessons learned from our Barney Lake fiasco were not a total loss.
Cedar Breaks National Monument
Our last stop on Highway 14 is at Cedar Breaks National Monument. This park never opens until the snow melts, so it was solidly closed on our last visit. A Park Ranger at the Dixie National Forest Visitor Center urged us to visit Cedar Breaks. He extolled the beauty of this little known canyon of hoodoos. The amphitheater at Cedar Breaks resembles Bryce Canyon, although we saw no trails among the hoodoos at Cedar Breaks. The crowds have not learned of this beautiful park yet and as a result parking is easy at overlooks and photos can be taken without dodging other day-trippers.
Photos from our Adventures around Highways 12 and 14