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Parowan, Utah, United States

Noah's Ark Trail - Dixie National Forest

Three mile round trip hike on a maintained trail. Beautiful views of Noah's Ark and Vermillion Castle rock formations.

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Difficulty: Difficult
Length: 3.0 miles / 4.8 km
Duration: Half day
Overview: The origin of this namesake rock is as lost to history as the original Ark is lost to the world. It is presumed that much like the rock pinnacles of Zion National Park which were named by a traveling Methodist Minister who, on a whim, started naming the spires of Zion. Some early settler startled by the similarities of the shape started calling the large square summit Noah's Ark.

The Noah's Ark Trail, part of the Dixie National Forest trail system is a maintained trail of dirt and rock. Moderate at the start, this 3 mile round trip (trailhead sign says 1 mile) becomes difficult the last half mile through steep, crumbling rock formations.

Tips: Elevation: Respect the fact you are hiking at 7000 - 8000 feet elevation. You can expect to be winded but pay attention to any unexplained headaches and move to lower elevation if necessary.
Water: 2 liters per person. The picnic area does NOT have potable water.
Good hiking shoes and a hiking stick or walking poles. I have never used walking poles, but on the down hill "slide" through the crumbling composition rock it would have been nice to have the balance poles or a walking stick provide.
Bug Spray: Although not a noticeable problem, there is water in the area and the fly's and Nat's are a nuisance without some form of protection.
Camera! Views are fantastic

Points of Interest


Trailhead and Parking

Travel on I-15 to Parowan Utah. From Parowan take State Road #143 South, following the signs to Brian Head and Cedar Breaks National Monument. Approximately 3 miles South of Parowan is First Left Hand Canyon. Turn Left and follow the signs toward Yankee Meadows. At the entrance to 5 mile picnic area is a clear sign for Noah's Ark trailhead. Enter picnic area if gate is open. If not park on the side of the road and enter through a walkway on the East side of the gate. Follow road passing picnic areas until you cross Bowery Creek. Trailhead is on south side of road.

Scrub Oak and Timbered Draw

Traveling south away from the campground, the maintained trail is easy to follow and shows signs of frequent travel. As the trail starts to climb you begin to pass through scrub oak and into a north slope of mixed conifer. This beautiful timbered draw is well shaded even during the heat of the day.

Note: This is a maintained dirt trail, complete with loose rock, roots, burrows and steep drop offs in some locations.

Pinyon Pine Ridge

As the trail emerges out of the timbered draw and turns uphill, you move along a ridge of pinyon juniper.

Lighting Strike and Striking Views

As the trail traverses back toward the North side of the mountain. Good views can be had across canyon to Vermillion Castle and Northwest to Parowan Valley and Little Salt Lake.

Along this portion of the trail watch for the dead trees, usually standing alone, the black streak, a tail- tale sign of a lighting strike. Also, standing along the trail are large pine trees. Take a moment and smell deeply from one of the cracks in the bark. What do you smell? This is one of the few regions in the world you will inhale the distinctive smell of Vanilla.

Conglomerate Rock

Soon the trail rises fairly steep (if not a trail I would rate it 3rd class scramble), until it reaches the base of a large rock rim made up of conglomerate rock. Loose and crumbly, part of the overhang has given way to create a cave (the term cave is loosely applied here). No flashlights are needed as the cave depth is only a few feet.

Bristlecone Pine Trees

Along these windswept ridges, existing only at high altitudes, survive one of the oldest living things on earth. The distinctive shape of Bristlecone Pine trees begin to be noticed among the other trees along the ridge line.


The Trail switches back and forth through a slide of broken conglomerate rock and finally climbs out to a platform. From this viewpoint beautiful vistas emerge in all directions including the fabulous red rock formation of Vermillion Castle.
Pictures in this guide taken by: steve625
Located just a few miles from the town of Parowan, Brian Head and Cedar Breaks National Monument, this hike is a real "sleeper". I arrived fairly early in the morning and found the trail covered in deer tracks. This would be a great sunrise / sunset hike with the trail easily navigated using a flashlight. The views across canyon to Vermillion Castle are fantastic.
Visited on Jul 22, 2011

by steve625 on Jul 24, 2011

Noah's Ark Trail - Dixie National Forest Trail Map

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On the Mountain of the Sun summit registry someone wrote "you can't un-climb a mountain". To me the...

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