Recreation Among the Lava Beds: Navajo Lake, Utah

The Navajo Lake recreation area is located atop Cedar Mountain, approximately 25 miles east of Cedar City. This pristine lake is was originally known to the Paiute Indians as “Pa-Cu-Ay”, meaning “Cloud Lake”. Early pioneer settlers gave it its present name after a confrontation took place near the lake between the settlers and some traveling members of the Navajo tribe.

Navajo Lake was formed when an ancient lava flow dammed the eastern side of the lake valley. Resting on a layer of limestone, the lake soon developed underground drainage through sink holes. Some of the water drains towards the Pacific Ocean via Cascade Falls and the Virgin River (the river that formed Zion Canyon). The balance runs east beneath the lava rocks coming out at the Duck Creek spring and sinking again to feed numerous springs that form the Sevier River (one of the few rivers in North American that flows north). The man made dike that stretches across the lake helps to maintain a constant water level. Boating, swimming and fishing are the most popular activities at Navajo Lake in the summer and snowmobiling, ice fishing and snowshoeing are fun in the winter. There is a rustic lodge located at the west edge of the lake and reservations can be made by calling 702-646-4197.

Lava Beds

Ancient lava beds surround the pristine Navajo Lake and Duck Creek areas. This geologically recent lava flow represents the last of the extensive volcanism on Cedar Mountain. Geologists believe that some of this lava rock is not more than 2,000 years old. Much of the lava did not come from a central volcano but welled up from cracks and fissures in the earth’s surface. There is a profile of a cinder cone that can be seen on the north end of the Navajo Lake and Hwy U-14 junction. One of the more interesting features of the lava beds is Mammoth Cave. This tunnel or lava tube was formed by cooling lava and water. The cave is about ¼ mile long and is safe to explore if proper care is taken. Mammoth Cave is located about a ¼ mile of the Mammoth Creek Rd. There are signs that direct travelers to the site.

Must See & Do

Hiking Cascade Falls

Distance is a one mile, round trip hike that leads you to a beautiful waterfall that is the outlet of Navajo Lake. See several varieties of plant life and incredible views of the Zion/Kolob Terrace.

Hiking Virgin River Rim Trail

Distance is a 32 mile moderate trail that’s good for hiking, mountain biking and horses. The trail has several access points so you can make the journey as long or as a short as you like. There are access points from Navajo Lake from the Te Ah Campground, as well as Cascade Falls and Strawberry Point trailheads.

Mountain Biking Navajo Loop

A nice, winding 12 mile loop around the lake that’s great for novices with just a few climbs.


There are several trails around Mammoth Cave for ATV and snowmobile use. Trail users are strongly advised to purchase a trail map from the Dixie National Forest Service Offices located in Cedar City or at the visitor center in Duck Creek (summer only).