The Yankee Meadow area is a little known gem that offers outstanding beauty and recreation. Your journey begins five miles from Parowan along Hwy 143. You’ll the see the Yankee Meadows turnoff next to a small water retention basin (good fishing spot).
As you drive up the Yankee Meadows Road (locals often call it First Left Hand Canyon) you’ll first encounter the Five-Mile Picnic Area neatly tucked away along the Bowery Creek. The picnic spot is surrounded by the towering red rocks of Vermilion Castle dotted with juniper trees and scrub oak and maple. Five-Mile is open late May through September for public and community use. No overnight camping is allowed and no potable water is available. Use of the 17 picnic areas is on a first come-first served basis. However, there is one picnic site that is tailored for large groups, which can be scheduled for use through Parowan City.
As you continue along the route, the Vermillion Castle will unfold above you. The area was named for the bright red rock formations and gray stone conglomerate cliffs. There are several trails that lead to the top of the cliffs where one can see the “Noah’s Ark” and the “Grand Castle” formations. In the fall, the scrub oak and maple blaze red and orange making it an outstanding area for leaf peepers.
As you continue up to Yankee Meadows, the road meanders through lush fields of aspen and spruce. A Dixie National Forest campground is located on the east side of the road. The pavement ends at the campground and turns to a good gravel road continuing up to Yankee Meadows Reservoir. The scenery is fantastic at the lake with towering volcanic cliffs of Sydney Peaks rising in the distance. Summer and fall, trout fishing and non-motorized boating are the most popular activities. The reservoir shoreline is owned and administered by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources while the water management is controlled by the Parowan Reservoir Company for irrigation purposes. Public access to the reservoir is open, but camping and grazing are restricted.
Facilities are limited at Yankee Meadows so remember to take out what you bring in. No overnight camping is allowed at the lake and no potable water is available. Keep in mind that cell service is generally not available.
Must See & Do
Distance is 2 miles round trip. Moderate/strenuous. Trailhead is just past the Vermilion Picnic area. Trail switchbacks up through the red rock formations (referred to as hoodoos) to a large rock platform with scenic views into a deep canyon and the Noah’s Ark formation.
Distance is 2 miles round trip. Moderate. Trailhead is 3 miles up Yankee Meadow Road from Hwy 143. Trail crosses Bowery Creek, works its way up to a natural spring. Continue to the top of Henderson Hill for a scenic view. Great equestrian trail.
Yankee Meadows Loop- 13 miles round trip. Intermediate. All weather road and double track. The Yankee Meadow Loop starts at Vermillion Castle picnic area, ride the Yankee Meadow Road past the reservoir, follow the dirt track up to the junction of Second Left Hand Canyon Road. Ride down the road to Hwy 143 and back to Vermillion Castle. Very scenic trail. Over 200 miles of mostly downhill, singletrack trails are located in nearby Brian Head. For more information, call (435) 677-2035.
There are several primary ATV routes around Yankee Meadows, including the Markagunt and the Second Left Hand trails. Trail users are strongly advised to purchase a trail map from the Dixie National Forest Service Offices located in Cedar City. For current OHV rules, regulations and safety classes, call 1-800-OHV-RIDE or www.stateparks.utah.gov