Public lands offer a treasure trove of places to see and enjoy. And they are full of untapped, unbelievable adventures and scenery.
National Conversation Areas (NCAs) are public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management that have been designated by Congress to be managed for the conservation and protection of their resource values. Greater Zion is home to the only two NCA’s in Utah.
The 45,000 acre Red Cliffs NCA is located in central Washington County, Utah and includes spectacular scenery, diverse wildlife, and miles of designated mountain biking, hiking, and horseback riding trails to explore. That’s not to mention the sandstone arches, rock climbing routes, canyons and petroglyph sites. The NCA also provides critical habitat for threatened Mojave desert tortoise and the endangered Shivwits milkvetch.
As good stewards, visitors to the NCA should do their best to minimize their impacts on the land and its resources. Some of the trails and areas in these NCA are dog friendly, but they have to be on a leash and you must clean up after them. Practice Leave No Trace, don’t build cairns, stay on designated trails, and leave with only pictures and memories.
Where You Should Go
When you come to Greater Zion, find a spot that inspires a sense of wonder and is fun to explore, and you can start your search in the NCA.
For example, Arch Trail is a true hidden gem that will inspire, provoke wonder, and provide a true adventure. The hike is a short one-and-half-mile round trip with interesting rock features and a valley of Lego-like blocks stretching out to the east. The ultimate destination of this hike is a free-standing sandstone arch. Further along the trail, past the arch, is the Virgin River where you can cool off on a hot day.
Details of this trail location and access can be found on the Greater Zion trails website, which is also a great resource for exploring and discovering more NCA locations and adventures in Greater Zion.
Wherever you choose to adventure in Greater Zion, there is a rewarding experience to be had.
Like the national parks, the trails and trailheads of the NCA can get busy as well. The small campground and day use areas of the Red Cliffs Recreation Area, located in the Red Cliffs NCA, are heavily visited during the spring, fall, and winter months. (After all, they are close to I-15 and quality facilities!) But that’s only a small portion of the NCA; there’s still plenty of room and opportunity to explore. Avoiding holiday weekends always helps too!