Incredible in both size and beauty, Fishlake National Forest is one of Utah’s most gorgeous destinations. Whether you’re craving mountains, dense woodlands, canyons, or wildlife, this park has it all.
But its unique features go beyond aesthetic beauty. You’ll have a chance to see one of the oldest living organisms on the planet.
If you’re ready to learn what this destination offers, we’ve got you covered.
Let’s dive in!
About Fishlake National Forest
Fishlake National Forest sits in central Utah. Boasting mountains, canyons, and miles of trees, it’s one of the state’s most impressive natural areas. It’s also home to Fish Lake, Utah’s largest freshwater lake. You’ll find wildlife of all kinds, including elk, bears, cougars, foxes, and mountain goats.
The forest is an ideal setting for outdoor activities. You can partake in the wildlife by fishing and hunting or take your mountain bike or ATV for a spin on the trails. Hiking, climbing, and horseback riding are popular here too. You can even get on the lake with a boat, canoe, or kayak.
Near the forest is the Fish Lake-Johnson Valley Area, which includes campgrounds, picnic areas, and resorts. The options for exploring this region are basically endless!
Where Is Fishlake National Forest?
Fishlake National Forest is in Southern Utah, a few hours southwest of Salt Lake City. This enormous forest covers nearly 1.5 million acres of land spanning nine counties. In fact, it’s so big you could fit all of Utah’s other national parks inside its footprint.
The lake is large enough that multiple ranger districts across the state maintain it. The forest was established in 1908 after officials combined two national forests, Fishlake and Glenwood national forests.
Fishlake is a jumping-off point for other destinations as well. Utah’s Henry Mountains, another popular area for hiking, are only a few hours away. Capitol Reef National Park, which is known for its scenic rock formations, is to the south.
Can You Visit Pando in Fishlake National Forest?
One of Fishlake National Forest’s most intriguing attractions is Pando. While Pando appears to be a grouping of trees, it’s actually a single living organism. Thousands of aspen trees are linked by a complex underground root system.
That’s not the only thing that makes Pando special. Scientists estimate that this giant plant is one of the largest organisms on Earth. Although most of its trees are just 100 or so years old, the root system dates back to the last Ice Age.
You can see this incredible specimen for yourself. It’s right off Highway 25, just a mile south of Fish Lake. Although it’s pretty at any time of the year, most folks visit during autumn, when the leaves are a bright golden color.
For the kids: Pando: A Living Wonder of Trees.
Best Hikes in Fishlake National Forest
It’s hard to know where to begin exploring in such a massive woodland. After all, one and a half million acres is a lot of land. Lucky for you, we picked two of the best hikes in Fishlake National Forest to kick off your adventure.
Bullion Falls is one of the most scenic spots in Fishlake. This gorgeous waterfall gets runoff from the snow that melts year-round in Bullion Canyon. You can hike to the 75-foot waterfall or get there on horseback.
It’s two miles out and back and typically takes about an hour to finish. This is a moderately strenuous hike, so you’ll want to wear good shoes and bring drinking water. You can take your pups with you as long as they’re leashed.
Delano Ridgeline Trail
Another popular hike within the national forest is the Delano Ridgeland Trail. It leads up to Delano Peak, the highest peak in the Tushar Mountains. Despite being a hilly hike, the path’s angle is gentle enough for folks of nearly any age or skill level to explore it without issues.
The trail stretches nearly four miles and takes about two hours to finish. This hike is less popular than Bullion Falls, so it’s perfect if you’re looking for some solo adventure time. You can bring your dog on this trail and even let them off the leash in many areas.
Best Places to Stay Near Fishlake National Forest
Camping in Fishlake National Forest could be the experience of a lifetime. But you’ll find plenty of great options for hotels as well. We can point you in the right direction, no matter what you prefer.
Here are some of the best places to stay near this gigantic forest.
Mackinaw Campground is just off Highway 25 in the national forest. It’s right next to Fish Lake and only a few miles from Pando. You can enjoy some fishing or explore the nearby recreation trails.
RV and tent camping are both welcome at Mackinaw. The campground offers fire rings, picnic tables, water access, showers, flush restrooms, trash services, and a dump station. Group and individual campsites are available, with individual spots starting at around $20 per night.
Ever wonder Can I Sleep in My Car in a National Forest?
Built in 1904, the Monroe Inn is a peaceful Victorian-era house that now operates as a small bed and breakfast. It’s just minutes from two nearby hot springs systems as well as hiking trails, fishing, and other activities. And it’s right next to Fishlake, too.
You can choose from several room styles, from suites to singles. If you order the night before, the staff will deliver breakfast to your room. This elegant B&B is the perfect place to relax after a long day of exploring.
Best Western Paradise Inn
Best Western Paradise Inn is in the town of Beaver, just off I-15. It’s only a few minutes from Fishlake National Park and the Elk Meadows Ski Resort. It’s also close to several other parks, including Zion Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Great Basin, and Capitol Reef.
It has its own onsite restaurant, the Crazy Cow Cafe, which provides each morning’s breakfasts. The hotel also has a pool and hot tub. It’s a great, affordable option that’s family-friendly.
Explore more of Utah: The Utah National Parks Ranked Best To Worst.
Is a Fishlake National Forest Road Trip Worth It?
You could spend weeks exploring every inch of Fishlake National Forest. Whether you prefer winter or summer, water or dry land, this vast stretch of wilderness has something for everyone. And with stand-out attractions like Pando and Fish Lake, you can have experiences here you won’t find anywhere else.
Thanks to its elevation, Fishlake National Forest is also a great place to escape the summer heat. So pack up your rig and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!
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