Dixie National Forest, at almost two million acres and stretching from east to west for approximately 170 miles across southern Utah, is the state’s largest national forest. Scenic Byway 12 weaves in and out of Dixie National Forest – The Dixie – three times, crossing three ranger districts: the Powell District to the west, the Escalante District in the middle, and the Fish Lake District to the east. The Dixie provides a backdrop for much of the byway’s length, as it reaches its highest point of 11,322 feet at Blue Bell Knoll on Boulder Mountain, between the towns of Boulder and Torrey.
Not surprisingly, given its size and varied topography, the forest offers myriad of recreational experiences, including hiking, viewing scenery, biking, camping, picnicking, horseback riding, riding ATVs, snowmobiling, hunting, canoeing, swimming, and fishing, to name just a few.
As it winds along the east flanks of Boulder Mountain, Scenic Byway 12 climbs to an altitude of more than 9,000 feet and affords breathtaking views of the rugged, rainbow-hued landscape stretching out below. The mountain was first plotted on an 1872 map by Almon Thompson, the cartographer with the John Wesley Powell Survey. However, the area was already well known to various Native American people, who left behind evidence that they lived and thrived in the pristine hills and hollows.
Immediately surrounding the highway is a landscape of glistening aspen, pine, spruce, and fir. Wildlife, including deer, elk, mountain lion, and numerous small mammal and bird species, thrive here. Alpine mountain meadows are dotted with countless small lakes, reservoirs, and streams that attract trout fishing. Many forest roads and trails provide access
to these thousands of acres of forest.
Dixie National Forest