Dixie National Forest is a land of thrilling contrasts situated in the heart of Southern Utah's most breathtaking places. Choose your own adventure — hike past fiery red-rock hoodoos, enjoy the cool breezes in evergreen forests, and explore stands of aspen that turn neon yellow every fall. If you have more time, head to the towering limestone canyons and check out the ancient bristlecone pines in the Ashdown Gorge Wilderness or paddle across Panguitch Lake. Snow blankets the upper elevations in the winter, bringing a chance to ski or snowmobile. Coming for a longer vacation? Visit the three national parks and two national monuments that sit on the edges of the forest for year-round adventure and some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.
With so many spectacular landscapes to experience in Dixie National Forest, RV camping is one of the best ways to visit. That way, you can sleep comfortably and wake up just steps from your next adventure. For an easy, hassle-free trip, consider an RV rental. With RVshare, you can choose a model from an owner near the forest to cut down on driving time and maximize fun.
Take in the views of brilliant blue water and green pine trees at Navajo Lake Campground, which sits on the shores of its namesake lake. This spot is a popular retreat in the summer, thanks to the cooler high-elevation weather and the breezes that blow off the water. Here, you'll find 12 single and four double campsites that are open to RVs; each one has a fire ring and a picnic table, and you can find trash service, flush toilets, and drinking water close by. Rent or bring a boat to explore the lake or hop on one of the hiking trails to explore the national forest. Sites are first-come, first-served with rates of $19 per night.
Tucked between Cedar City and all of the fun of Dixie National Forest, Cedar Canyon Campground is a convenient home base. Campsites sit in a beautiful green forest, creating plenty of shade and a respite from the Utah heat. Drinking water is available from Memorial Day until Labor Day, and there are vault toilets and garbage cans in the park. Sites cost $19 per night.
Get the full red-rock experience at Red Canyon RV Park. With full hookups, pull-through sites, fire pits, and grills, this is a lovely spot for big rigs and families. Flush toilets and a bathhouse with hot showers sit nearby for convenience and comfort. Sites start at $39 per night.
Vermillion Castle Trail might be a short hike, but it comes with a big reward — a spectacular view of the Vermillion Castle, a red-rock formation with intricate spires that reach high into the sky. This trail travels through fantastic, twisted rock formations as it climbs, giving you a close-up look at Southern Utah's legendary hoodoos. From the end of the trail, you can also see the Noah's Ark rock formation.
Length: 0.7 miles one way
From the moment you set foot on the Twisted Forest Trail, you'll understand the name. Here, you can walk through a forest of bristlecone pines, ancient trees known for their twisted branches. Some of these remarkable trees have been alive for thousands of years; they're some of the oldest living things on Earth. Much of this trail is exposed, so it's a good idea to bring sun protection and plenty of water.
Length: 1.7 miles one way
Hike along the edge of a red-rock cliff at the Cascade Falls Trail, which takes you to a beautiful waterfall that flows directly out of the cliff. It comes from a lava tube that was formed by ancient volcanoes. From the viewpoint at the end of the trail, you can catch a glimpse of the iconic cliffs in Zion National Park in the distance.
Length: Easy to Moderate
Intensity: 0.8 miles one way
Create a day hike that suits your skill and available time on the Virgin River Rim Trail. Start at one of the three trailheads — Te-ah, Cascade Falls, or Strawberry Point — and do an out-and-back hike. Alternatively, bring two cars and leave one at your destination trailhead for a one-way trip. No matter which option you choose, you'll see gorgeous views of the Virgin River Rim and bizarre red-rock formations.
Length: 31.5 miles one way
Complete a circuit around a sparkling alpine lake on the Navajo Lake Loop Trail. Popular with hikers and mountain bikers, this trail winds through the forest, across volcanic rock, and through stands of aspen that turn bright yellow in the fall. Most of the route is flat, so you can easily complete it in a day.
Length: 11.5 miles round-trip
Located in the stunning Red Canyon area, the Pink Ledges Trail is a short, easy hike with spectacular views. Walk up through the pine forest to the base of the red-rock cliffs; here, you can see the otherworldly hoodoos up close. If you have a bit more time, continue onto the Hoodoo Trail for another perspective on the rocks.
Length: 0.4 miles one way
Intensity: Easy to Moderate
Arches Trail is another short kid-friendly hike in Dixie National Forest. It starts at the Losee Trailhead and travels through the rocks, taking you past 15 different arches. In some spots, you can walk through the arches. Bring your camera and plenty of water; most of this hike is exposed, and the sun can be intense even in the winter.
Length: 0.7 miles
The Dixie National Forest trail network is the best place to see the plants, animals, and landscapes of southern Utah. The bristlecone pine is of particular interest to nature lovers; check it out on the Twisted Forest or Bristlecone Pine Trails. For some of the best nature views, explore the area around Honeycomb Rocks, Pine Valley Reservoir, and Death Hollow. Wildlife abounds in the forest — watch for cougar and bobcat tracks as you hike and keep your binoculars handy to spot the elusive golden eagles and blue grouse. If you're interested in geocaching, you'll find interesting sites near Bowers cave, Signal Peak, and Brian Head.
Dixie National Forest sits in a lightly populated part of Utah; after dark, the views of the night sky are remarkable.
During the day, pack your tackle box and set out to explore the 90 lakes and 500 miles of streams that are open to fishing. When the temperatures are low enough, you can even go ice fishing on Panguitch Lake.
Address: 1789 N Wedgewood Lane, Cedar City, UT 84721
Fee: Entry fee $0
Whether you're looking for alpine lakes, sun-drenched red rocks, or cool pine forests, Dixie National Forest has you covered. A camping trip to this southern Utah gem brings adventure and relaxation in equal measure. To amp up the fun, bring an RV for the perfect camping trip any time of year.