The Utah Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City is a treasure trove of
adventures. Most people who have gone once have gone time and again. Not just
for the plays but for the ancillary programs as well. But to complete the
experience you really must take a trip into the Dixie National Forest just up
Even if you arent into hiking, the beauty of this immense forest will dazzle
you. If youre just into a nice drive with some stops for photo opportunities
I recommend you head up highway 14 right out of the center of Cedar City.
Here the winding road rises in elevation quickly affording you cool weather
in summer and spectacular fall colors in Autumn. Ive often driven up here
in the Fall just to see the reds, and oranges, golds, and varying shades of
green. Its the closest a Las Vegan can get to Indian Summer without a plane
ride, and it is really quite breathtaking.
Once the road starts to level off you enter a forest that alternates between
huge rolling green meadows and dense woodland. But by mid to late summer
these meadows are a virtual carpet of wildflowers. And I honestly cant
remember driving up here without seeing wildlife. Whether its deer, elk,
porcupine, yellow-bellied marmot, or one of several interesting birds, Ive
yet to be disappointed. But the fact is that if youre the least bit
adventurous youll discover all this on your own. What you might not do on
your own is drive up Interstate 15 to the tiny town of Parowan and come up
route 143, which is the favorite area of Randy Houston, of the US Forest
Randy Houston, USFS
I think this is just the hidden treasure of our district.
I think this is one of the prettiest areas there is here in the district.
Its one of the areas that isnt used much by recreationists. Its a real
nice area. Theres a lot of wildlife here. In the ledges a lot of times in
the evening, or in the morning hours you can see hawks and owls that nest in
the rocks. And theres a lot of deer and the elk numbers are starting to
increase in the Yankee meadows area. So this is just a real pretty area and
not heavily visited by recreationists.
Not too far outside of Parowan up route 143 is a turnoff for Yankee meadows
and the Vermilion Castle trail. This is the area that Randys talking about.
Although there are over 50 established trails to chose from here in this
portion of the Dixie National forest, this one is perfectly suited for
someone taking a break from all the activities at the festival. Its a short
trail. Only two miles round trip. With just over 500 foot of elevation gain.
But the views are spectacular. Its amazing how much the scenery and
vegetation change in such a short period of time. You cant help but notice
the difference in flora almost immediately.
Randy Houston, USFS
Weve come through a pinion/juniper and now were into
kind of a stand that has Doug fir in. And well eventually get to a mixed
conifer type which will have Doug fir, some White fir, and Ponderosa pine.
But its not the flora that will take your breath away. Its the towering
rock formations that make this canyon and this trail so noteworthy. Mid-way
up the trail you come to a short difficult passage where the rock becomes
steep and loose. As you clear this portion you come to a landing. On the left
are blond conglomerate spires covered in multi-colored lichen that contrast
with the deep red limstone in the background. To the right, across the road,
youll see a long view of the type of formation that youre now traveling
in. And on top of that ridge youll see a large rock formation that looks for
all the world like a boat. Its called Noahs Ark.
But the real bounty of this trail comes at the end of the path. Vermilion
Castle. As you look up at the towering spires you immediately understand why
this formation got its name. The blood red spires look like castle turrets
rising into the blue sky. If you hike this trail at sunset youll see the
castle blaze fiery red. And although you can see all of this from the road
below its amazing how much of difference it makes to be just a few hundred
But the real trick here is to keep that sense of castles and pristine forests
until you get back down to the bottom of the hill, where that feeling will be
perfect at the Utah Shakespearean Festival.
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