Geologic Points of Interest - Dixie

Strawberry Point | Hells Backbone
 Mammoth Cave & Ice Cave | Mammoth Springs
 Pine Valley Laccolith | Hole in the Wall (Timpe Arch)
 Second Left-Hand Canyon Arch

Type

Scenic Overlook

Site Name

Strawberry Point

Directions

From Cedar City, Utah take State Road 14 east onto Cedar Mountain. After you pass Duck Creek Village, look for milepost 31. At the next intersection, turn right onto Forest Road 058. (A left turn at this intersection will take you to State Road 143 via the Mammoth Creek Road.) Travel this well maintained gravel road approximately seven miles to Strawberry Point

Description

Drive out to this scenic viewpoint for spectacular views of forested land, red rock formations, and Zion National Park in the distance.

Image(s)

Photo of Strawberry Point - Click the thumbnail to enlarge.
 

Type

Scenic Byway

Site Name

Hells Backbone

Directions

From Boulder, Utah drive south on Highway 12 about 2-1/2 miles. Turn right on Forest Road 153, also known as the Hell’s Backbone Road.

Description

Hell’s Backbone Road climbs up and around Box Death Hollow Wilderness. It features a dramatic stretch of road along a narrow ridge with sheer drops on both sides and crosses a wonderful narrow bridge. The route has great views over the Wilderness area and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument as it twists through pine, spruce, and fir forests. It joins Posey Lake Road and returns to Highway 12 at Escalante, Utah. The 30-mile route is primarily dirt and gravel. It is difficult when wet and is closed in the winter. Plan to spend about 2 to 2-1/2 hours with stops.

Image(s)

Photo of a portion of the Hells Backbone Scenic Byway. Photo of a portion of the Hells Backbone Scenic Byway.
 

Type

Cave/Sinkhole

Site Name

Mammoth Cave & Ice Cave

Directions

Just east of Duck Creek Village on State Road 14, turn left onto Forest Road 067. Go five miles and then turn right onto Forest Road 064. After about one mile turn left and look for the sign.

Description

Mammoth Cave, at 8050 feet in elevation, opens to one of the largest lava tubes in Utah, with over 2200 feet of passages. Formed by cooling lava and flowing water, Mammoth Cave is part of the Markagunt Plateau. Geologists believe that some of this lava is only several thousand years old – relatively young in geologic terms! During summer months, the cave is a popular nightly resting spot for several bat species, and is frequented by other small birds and mammals.

The cave looks like a big hole in the ground at first glance and is fun to explore. Take a good light for every person. The cave is pitch dark after the first turn. The exit is a small tube that allows only enough room to slide through on your belly. If you are large or claustrophobic turn around and go back the way you came. Water seepage at the end of the cave makes the rocks slippery. Wear appropriate hiking shoes into the cave.

Ice Cave is much smaller than Mammoth Cave, with only one chamber. It contains year round icicles. Heading east on State Road 14 from Cedar City, turn right at the Duck Creek Visitor Center. Drive past the visitor center and follow the signs to Ice Cave.

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Type

Springs/Falls

Site Name

Mammoth Springs

Directions

Take the Panguitch Lake Scenic Byway (State Road 143) south from the town of Panguitch. About three miles beyond Panguitch Lake, turn left onto Forest Road 067. The spring is about two miles down on the right.

Description

The largest instantaneous discharge observed at any spring in Utah was 314 cubic feet per second at Mammoth Spring. The source of the water is believed to be precipitation on the Markagunt Plateau that recharges the karst forming limestone units within the Claron formation and overlying volcanic lava flows. (From: Mundorff, 1971)

Image(s)

Photo of Mammoth Springs - Click on the thumbnail to enlarge.
 

Type

Mountain Ranges/Basins

Site Name

Pine Valley Laccolith

Directions

The laccolith intrusions are generally the most resistant rocks in the area, and form most of the higher hills. The Stoddard Mountain intrusion is the easiest to access; it is exposed in a road cut about 2.5 miles south of the intersection of the Pinto road and State Highway 56 about 17 miles west of Cedar City. The spectacular Pine Valley Mountains and Pine Mountains Wilderness are the core of the largest laccolith of all. There is a network of over 151 miles of trails on and around the 50,000-acre Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness. Elevations range from 6,000 to 10,365 feet at Signal Peak.

Description

Laccoliths are certainly among the most unique and interesting geologic features, and Utah has some of the premier examples in the world. Best known are the Henry and La Sal Mountains laccoliths because of their spectacular exposures, but the Pine Valley Mountains and several nearby intrusions are also excellent laccoliths. The Pine Valley Mountains laccolith may be one of the largest in the world. A laccolith is formed when an intrusive body from below uplifts a region (see diagram below). It is like a volcano that did not quite make it to the surface. The Pine Valley laccolith was emplaced about 21 million years ago as molten rock from deep within the earth moved upward into shallow overlying sedimentary rocks. There it spread out and crystallized into what is one of the largest such intrusions in the world; uplift and erosion have since uncovered this granite-like rock. (From: Survey Notes, Utah Geological Survey, Sept. 2002, v. 34).

Image(s)

Image of a laccolith - Click on the thumbnail to enlarge.
 

Type

Cliffs/Canyons/Outcrops

Site Name

Hole in the Wall Arch, locally referred to as Timpe Arch

Directions

The arch is located four miles south of Parowan in section 35, T.35 S., R.9 W., on the west side of Parowan Canyon (State Road 143).

Description

The arch can be seen from southern Parowan, and can be reached by driving up a jeep road west of the arch and scrambling up a steep mountain face. Formed in a poorly cemented section of the Grand Castle Formation (an unlikely place to find an arch because of the rock’s gravel-like composition), the arch spans about 12 feet and is about 4-1/2 feet high. (From:  Survey Notes, Utah Geological Survey, January 2001, v. 33).

Image(s)

 
 

Type

Cliffs/Canyons/Outcrops

Site Name

Second Left-Hand Canyon Arch

Directions

Second Left-hand Canyon Arch lies four miles southeast of Hole in the Wall Arch, in section 19, T.35 S., R.8 W. on the east side of State Road 143.

Description

One of at least four arches in the upper Claron Formation (pink limestone) along Center Creek, this rectangular arch has a span of 20 feet and a height of 13 feet, and can be seen from the road traveling down canyon, or reached by an easy hike. (From:  Survey Notes, Utah Geological Survey, January 2001, v. 33).

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Key Contacts

Geology

Joe Gurrieri
Regional Geologist