Seeing nature in all its glory is relatively easy when visiting Utah, where the red rock of the Colorado Plateau, the alpine splendor of the Uintas, and Wasatch Mountains and the desolation of the basin and range of the West Desert offer amazing views.

But few places offer the variety of both ancient forces and modern sites found in the area between Cedar City and Panguitch that includes Navajo Lake, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Brian Head, Duck Creek and Panguitch Lake.

The area has been in the news for several weeks due to the huge Brian Head fire, a man-caused event that certainly altered the look of much of this interesting part of Utah.

Yet, from the ancient forces that formed the Cedar Breaks amphitheater and Navajo Lake to more modern natural sites that include wildflower watching, stargazing and fishing, there is much to see and learn here.

For the most part, the effects of the fire, though substantial for thousands of acres and disastrous for property owners who lost cabins, had little impact on camping or visiting the area, which is now mostly open again for recreation.

According to Dixie National Forest information specialist Kacy Ellsworth, the only campground affected by the fire was Yankee Meadow, just east of Parowan.

She said that area could be closed for between one and five years due to possible flooding, numerous hazardous trees and slick areas due to ash.

"The area is not safe for recreation," she said. "Yankee Meadow has extensive damage."

Other campgrounds in the area — including Panguitch Lake North and South, White Bridge, Spruces, Te-Ah, Navajo Lake, Cedar Canyon, Deer Haven, Duck Creek and Cedar Breaks — are open. Many fill quickly, especially on summer weekends, and reservations are suggested.

"We were really lucky," said Shannon Eberhard, information specialist for Cedar Breaks National Monument. "The fire was six miles north of us and moved north and east. We didn't get affected by the smoke, though we had a good view of the flume."

Jim Facciuto of the Panguitch Lake Resort said his facility has been open since July 3, though business is slower.

"Nothing burned here and there was no damage," he said. "It is nice and green around us. There are spots on the other side of the lake that got burned. Fishing is great. We are trying to get it back together. It will take a little while, but we will be fine."

Brian Head spokesman Mark Wilder said that resort was able to open with full operations on July 4. The resort is offering regularly scheduled weekend operations Friday through Sunday with live music, food and drink, mountain biking, a family adventure trail, zip line, tubing, climbing wall and scenic chair lift rides.

What hasn't changed is the area's interesting geology.

Navajo Lake, for example, has an interesting story about its formation. According to VisitCedarCity.com, it formed when an ancient lava flow dammed the eastern side of the lake valley. It rests on a bed of limestone and drains underground through sinkholes. Some water drains towards the Pacific Ocean via Cascade Falls and the Virgin River, while the balance runs east coming out at Duck Creek.

There are lava tubes and ice caves in the area to explore and some interesting viewpoints, including some unusual looks of nearby Zion National Park.

Cedar Breaks' amphitheater offers some of the state's most amazing views at an elevation over 10,000 feet. Once covered by an ancient lake, it is located on the 100-mile-long Hurricane Fault, which became active about 10 million years ago.

The high mountain area at Cedar Breaks is known for its displays of wildflowers that can often last through the summer. According to Eberhard, the 12th annual wildflower festival continues through Sunday and includes daily wildflower walks, and this weekend, booths for kids, crafts, sidewalk chalks, games and flower coloring.

The monument, which received International Dark Sky designation this year, also holds summer star parties every Saturday evening from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Large telescopes are provided for these events.

The area is also known for good fishing at Panguitch Lake, Duck Creek Pond, Navajo Lake, Bristlecone Pond at Brian Head and Aspen Mirror Lake.

Mountain bikers can enjoy an easy 12-mile ride around Navajo Lake or lift-served mountain biking on the weekends at Brian Head.

The national forest is also popular with off-highway vehicle riders with UHV and ATV rentals available at Duck Creek Village, which features lodges, retail stores and restaurants. There is also a small lodge with boat and cabin rentals on the shores of Navajo Lake.

One good stop to get information or maps is at the Duck Creek Visitor Center, which is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Helpful volunteers have free information and maps to area attractions.

To cap things off, the area is 30 miles from Cedar City and its famous Shakespeare Festival.

Lovers of the outdoors can easily spend days exploring the many interest sights found in this part of Utah.

wharton@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribtomwharton

Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Navajo Lake campground, one of three.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Navajo Lake campground, one of three.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Fishing Navajo Lake.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Fishing Navajo Lake.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Fishing Navajo Lake.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Fishing Navajo Lake.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Paddleboarding at Navajo Lake.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Paddleboarding at Navajo Lake.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Paddleboarding Navajo Lake.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Paddleboarding Navajo Lake.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Morning at Navajo Lake.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Morning at Navajo Lake.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Morning at Navajo Lake.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Morning at Navajo Lake.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Fishing at Navajo Lake.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Fishing at Navajo Lake.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Water play at Navajo Lake.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Water play at Navajo Lake.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Entrance to the Ice Cave near Duck Creek Village.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Entrance to the Ice Cave near Duck Creek Village.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Climbing ladder into Bower Cave, a lava tube near Duck Creek Village.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Climbing ladder into Bower Cave, a lava tube near Duck Creek Village.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Climbing ladder into Bower Cave, a lava tube near Duck Creek Village.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Climbing ladder into Bower Cave, a lava tube near Duck Creek Village.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Entrance to Mammoth Cave near Duck Creek Village.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Entrance to Mammoth Cave near Duck Creek Village.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Entrance to Mammoth Cave lava tube near Duck Creek Village.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Entrance to Mammoth Cave lava tube near Duck Creek Village.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Entrance to Mammoth Cave lava tube near Duck Creek Village.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Entrance to Mammoth Cave lava tube near Duck Creek Village.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Water play at Navajo Lake.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Water play at Navajo Lake.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Cedar Breaks in morning.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Cedar Breaks in morning.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Wildflowers at Cedar Breaks.
Tom Wharton | Special to The Tribune Wildflowers at Cedar Breaks.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Liam Wanamaker of Prescott, AZ tours Duck Creek Ice Cave with a flashlight, July 15, 2017. Duck Creek Ice Cave measures about 60 feet by 40 feet, with a ceiling height of 15 feet high. The ice cave is located in Tertiary limestone deposits that are 30 to 50 million years old. Winter ice and snow melts in the warmer months, although even on a hot summer day, the floor temperature is just above freezing.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Liam Wanamaker of Prescott, AZ tours Duck Creek Ice Cave with a flashlight, July 15, 2017. Duck Creek Ice Cave measures about 60 feet by 40 feet, with a ceiling height of 15 feet high. The ice cave is located in Tertiary limestone deposits that are 30 to 50 million years old. Winter ice and snow melts in the warmer months, although even on a hot summer day, the floor temperature is just above freezing.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Danny Johnson, wife Kayla, daughter Lucy, 4, and son Spencer, 2, peek into two of the three entrances to Mammoth Cave, one of the largest lava tubes in Utah, with over 2200 feet of passages. Located on the Markagunt Plateau, the cave was formed by cooling lava and water less than 2,000 years ago.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Danny Johnson, wife Kayla, daughter Lucy, 4, and son Spencer, 2, peek into two of the three entrances to Mammoth Cave, one of the largest lava tubes in Utah, with over 2200 feet of passages. Located on the Markagunt Plateau, the cave was formed by cooling lava and water less than 2,000 years ago.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Visitors to Duck Creek Ice Cave lower themselves into the cave July 15, 2017 with a rope anchored at the entrance. Duck Creek Ice Cave measures about 60 feet by 40 feet, with a ceiling height of 15 feet high. The ice cave is located in Tertiary limestone deposits that are 30 to 50 million years old. Winter ice and snow melts in the warmer months, although even on a hot summer day, the floor temperature is just above freezing.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Visitors to Duck Creek Ice Cave lower themselves into the cave July 15, 2017 with a rope anchored at the entrance. Duck Creek Ice Cave measures about 60 feet by 40 feet, with a ceiling height of 15 feet high. The ice cave is located in Tertiary limestone deposits that are 30 to 50 million years old. Winter ice and snow melts in the warmer months, although even on a hot summer day, the floor temperature is just above freezing.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune l-r Tyler Frost, 9, and Calvin Frost, 7, laugh and marvel at the sight of dozens of hummingbirds vying for a spot at the feeders with their cousins Ellia Frost, 8, and Venna Frost, 6, outside the entrance to the Duck Creek Visitor Center. The Duck Creek Visitor Center is just off Highway 14, across the road from Duck Creek pond and campground.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune l-r Tyler Frost, 9, and Calvin Frost, 7, laugh and marvel at the sight of dozens of hummingbirds vying for a spot at the feeders with their cousins Ellia Frost, 8, and Venna Frost, 6, outside the entrance to the Duck Creek Visitor Center. The Duck Creek Visitor Center is just off Highway 14, across the road from Duck Creek pond and campground.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Visitors to Duck Creek Ice Cave slip on an ice bank near the entrance to the cave July 15, 2017 as they try to exit the cave. Duck Creek Ice Cave measures about 60 feet by 40 feet, with a ceiling height of 15 feet high. The ice cave is located in Tertiary limestone deposits that are 30 to 50 million years old. Winter ice and snow melts in the warmer months, although even on a hot summer day, the floor temperature is just above freezing.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Visitors to Duck Creek Ice Cave slip on an ice bank near the entrance to the cave July 15, 2017 as they try to exit the cave. Duck Creek Ice Cave measures about 60 feet by 40 feet, with a ceiling height of 15 feet high. The ice cave is located in Tertiary limestone deposits that are 30 to 50 million years old. Winter ice and snow melts in the warmer months, although even on a hot summer day, the floor temperature is just above freezing.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Navajo Lake campground, located on Cedar Mountain, Kane County at an elevation 9,250 feet. Navajo Lake is fed by snowmelt and ground water through numerous springs and lava tubes on the Markagunt Plateau.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Navajo Lake campground, located on Cedar Mountain, Kane County at an elevation 9,250 feet. Navajo Lake is fed by snowmelt and ground water through numerous springs and lava tubes on the Markagunt Plateau.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Cascade Falls, located on Cedar Mountain in Kane County, originates at Navajo Lake, travels over a mile through lava tubes and exits out of the sandstone rock face and falls about 100 feet. Cascade Falls trailhead is about 8910 feet elevation on Cedar Mountain and leads hikers on an easy, 1.1-mile roundtrip to the falls.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Cascade Falls, located on Cedar Mountain in Kane County, originates at Navajo Lake, travels over a mile through lava tubes and exits out of the sandstone rock face and falls about 100 feet. Cascade Falls trailhead is about 8910 feet elevation on Cedar Mountain and leads hikers on an easy, 1.1-mile roundtrip to the falls.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune A Black-crowned Night Heron looks for a fish in Duck Creek, just south of Duck Creek Pond, next to Hwy. 14 in Dixie National Forest.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune A Black-crowned Night Heron looks for a fish in Duck Creek, just south of Duck Creek Pond, next to Hwy. 14 in Dixie National Forest.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Cascade Falls trailhead is about 8910 feet elevation on Cedar Mountain and leads hikers on an easy, .9-mile to Cascade Falls, which is fed by Navajo Lake. The trail provides views of Kolob Terrace and Zion National Park.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Cascade Falls trailhead is about 8910 feet elevation on Cedar Mountain and leads hikers on an easy, .9-mile to Cascade Falls, which is fed by Navajo Lake. The trail provides views of Kolob Terrace and Zion National Park.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Navajo Lake, located on Cedar Mountain, Kane County at an elevation 9,250 feet, is fed by snowmelt and ground water through numerous springs and lava tubes on the Markagunt Plateau. Angling is the most popular activity at Navajo Lake in the summer with snowmobiling, ice fishing and snowshoeing in winter.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Navajo Lake, located on Cedar Mountain, Kane County at an elevation 9,250 feet, is fed by snowmelt and ground water through numerous springs and lava tubes on the Markagunt Plateau. Angling is the most popular activity at Navajo Lake in the summer with snowmobiling, ice fishing and snowshoeing in winter.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Duck Creek Village is located at the edge of a large mountain meadow in the Dixie Nation Forest, off of Scenic Hwy. 14. Visitors are just a few miles away from multiple outdoor activities at Duck Creek Pond, Aspen Mirror Lake and Navajo Lake within Dixie National Forest.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Duck Creek Village is located at the edge of a large mountain meadow in the Dixie Nation Forest, off of Scenic Hwy. 14. Visitors are just a few miles away from multiple outdoor activities at Duck Creek Pond, Aspen Mirror Lake and Navajo Lake within Dixie National Forest.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Cascade Falls, located on Cedar Mountain in Kane County, originates at Navajo Lake, travels over a mile through lava tubes and exits out of the sandstone rock face and falls about 100 feet. Cascade Falls trailhead is about 8910 feet elevation on Cedar Mountain and leads hikers on an easy, 1.1-mile roundtrip to the falls.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Cascade Falls, located on Cedar Mountain in Kane County, originates at Navajo Lake, travels over a mile through lava tubes and exits out of the sandstone rock face and falls about 100 feet. Cascade Falls trailhead is about 8910 feet elevation on Cedar Mountain and leads hikers on an easy, 1.1-mile roundtrip to the falls.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Cascade Falls, located on Cedar Mountain in Kane County, originates at Navajo Lake, travels over a mile through lava tubes and exits out of the sandstone rock face and falls about 100 feet. Cascade Falls trailhead is about 8910 feet elevation on Cedar Mountain and leads hikers on an easy, 1.1-mile roundtrip to the falls.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Cascade Falls, located on Cedar Mountain in Kane County, originates at Navajo Lake, travels over a mile through lava tubes and exits out of the sandstone rock face and falls about 100 feet. Cascade Falls trailhead is about 8910 feet elevation on Cedar Mountain and leads hikers on an easy, 1.1-mile roundtrip to the falls.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune A hiker follows Cascade Falls trailhead back to the parking lot. Cascade Falls trailhead is about 8910 feet elevation on Cedar Mountain and leads hikers on an easy, 1.1-mile roundtrip to the falls. Cascade Falls, located on Cedar Mountain in Kane County, originates at Navajo Lake, travels over a mile through lava tubes and exits out of the sandstone rock face at the falls.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune A hiker follows Cascade Falls trailhead back to the parking lot. Cascade Falls trailhead is about 8910 feet elevation on Cedar Mountain and leads hikers on an easy, 1.1-mile roundtrip to the falls. Cascade Falls, located on Cedar Mountain in Kane County, originates at Navajo Lake, travels over a mile through lava tubes and exits out of the sandstone rock face at the falls.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Tom Lyle and his grandson Gavin Rhodes, 9, fish for brook and Rainbow trout at Duck Creek Pond in the Dixie Nation Forest, off of Scenic Highway 14.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Tom Lyle and his grandson Gavin Rhodes, 9, fish for brook and Rainbow trout at Duck Creek Pond in the Dixie Nation Forest, off of Scenic Highway 14.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Hikers follow Cascade Falls trailhead. Cascade Falls trailhead is about 8910 feet elevation on Cedar Mountain and leads hikers on an easy, 1.1-mile roundtrip to the falls. Cascade Falls, located on Cedar Mountain in Kane County, originates at Navajo Lake, travels over a mile through lava tubes and exits out of the sandstone rock face at the falls.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Hikers follow Cascade Falls trailhead. Cascade Falls trailhead is about 8910 feet elevation on Cedar Mountain and leads hikers on an easy, 1.1-mile roundtrip to the falls. Cascade Falls, located on Cedar Mountain in Kane County, originates at Navajo Lake, travels over a mile through lava tubes and exits out of the sandstone rock face at the falls.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Duck Creek Village is located at the edge of a large mountain meadow in the Dixie Nation Forest, off of Scenic Hwy. 14. Visitors are just a few miles away from multiple outdoor activities at Duck Creek Pond, Aspen Mirror Lake and Navajo Lake within Dixie National Forest.
Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Duck Creek Village is located at the edge of a large mountain meadow in the Dixie Nation Forest, off of Scenic Hwy. 14. Visitors are just a few miles away from multiple outdoor activities at Duck Creek Pond, Aspen Mirror Lake and Navajo Lake within Dixie National Forest.