Scenic Utah 14: Aspen Forests, Navajo Lake

US 89 is beautiful, but not terribly exciting as you head south from Rte. 12.  Once you make the turn onto Rte. 14, the road starts climbing and once again, you’re headed back to a high elevation.

For the trip back from Bryce Canyon National Park to Interstate 15, take Utah 12 back to US 89, then head south.  Hang a right on Utah 14, which will take you through Duck Creek Village and eventually back to Cedar City. You could also take US 89 north to Panguitch, then follow UT Rtes. 143 and 148 back to Rte. 14, however, we covered this route on a previous page.

I was moseying along Rte. 14, taking in the scenery, when I spotted this creek at the side of the road.  I slammed on the breaks and swerved into a tiny turnout, probably surprising the poor guy behind me.  The scene I found was idyllic: a perfectly clear stream quietly flowing between boulders, surrounded by pine trees and bordered by a rough footpath.

As I followed the stream a short distance, I came upon a patch of aspen trees.

I guess it has something to do with the fact that I live in Florida, where there certainly are no aspen trees, but I find them fascinating.  I mean, they’re white, what’s the deal with that?  Their bark is paper-thin, and almost anywhere you find them, someone has carved initials into them.  To top it all off, their leaves seem to sparkle in the wind, when the thin air brushes through their branches.  It’s a remarkable tree.

I can only assume that at this point, the thin air was getting to me.

In the area of Duck Creek Village (roughly where I found this grove of aspen trees) there are some National Forest dirt roads which appear to be popular with off-road 4wd vehicles.  There’s also a sign promising a waterfall, but after a brief search I couldn’t find it, and gave up.

Navajo Lake

From Rte. 14, you’ll enjoy a good view of the perfectly-blue waters of Navajo Lake.  The lake is at 9,200 feet, offers a campground and a lodge, as well as countless trout, just waiting to be caught.

Around the area of Rte. 148 (where I turned off, on my way to Cedar Breaks and Bryce Canyon) you’ll pass through some lovely alpine meadows.

Once you’re back in Cedar City, hop on Interstate 15 and head south.  Our next stop is the Kolob Canyons section of Zion (the northern end of the park, which receives a fraction of the visitors of Zion Canyon, albeit equally spectacular). 

Note: This trip was first published in 2007.

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