WHERE IS DUCK CREEK?
Duck Creek is in Kane County, Utah. It is on UT-14, about 30 miles up the canyon from Cedar City. Duck Creek itself stretches half a mile along this road, but the activities, sights-to-see, and nearby attractions are found in every direction for miles.
You can get to Duck Creek many ways. The best way to get to Duck Creek is:
From St. George: Drive north on I-15 to Cedar City, get off on Exit 59 and head east to Main Street, turn right on Main Street and left on Center Street, take UT-14 up the canyon for 29 miles (1 hr 30 min from St. George)
From Salt Lake City: Drive south on I-15 to Cedar City, get off on Exit 59 and head east to Main Street, turn right on Main Street and left on Center Street, take UT-14 up the canyon for 29 miles (4 hrs 14 min from Salt Lake City)
OR Drive south on I-15 to Parowan, get off on exit 78 and drive south until Center Street, turn left onto Center Street and continue onto UT-143, drive for 16 miles to UT-148, drive for 7.6 miles and turn left onto UT-14. Continue 12 miles to Duck Creek (4 hrs 11 min from Salt Lake City)
From Richfield: Drive south on US-89 until the UT-14 turnoff, turn right onto UT-14 and drive for 16 miles to Duck Creek (2 hrs from Richfield)
From Kanab: Drive north on US-89 until the UT-14 turnoff, turn left onto UT-14 and drive for 16 miles to Duck Creek (1 hr from Kanab)
HISTORY OF DUCK CREEK
While Duck Creek Village itself wasn’t established until the 1930s, there is plenty of evidence showing that the area surrounding Duck Creek has been used by humans for about 7,000 years. Small family groups used to camp around this area while hunting and collecting food. When groups began growing corn and other crops 2,000 years ago, they built permanent villages (“pueblos”) in this area.
Between A.D. 900-1200, there were two groups present in this area: the Virgin Branch of the Anasazi and the Parowan Fremont. By A.D. 1100, the Southern Paiute became the dominant group in the region, and it stayed that way until the mid-19th century when Euro-Americans began establishing settlements in Zion Canyon.
Duck Creek Village began as a gathering place for local sheepherders. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps helped develop Duck Creek with its Duck Creek Recreation Camp. This camp was used until the CCC was disbanded in the early 1940s. The only building still standing from this era is now the Duck Creek Forest Service Visitor Center.
Soon after the CCC left the area, the film and television industry moved in. Due to Duck Creek’s astonishing scenery and natural beauty, the area became a popular location for movie filming.
Some of the best-known movies filmed in Duck Creek include “Drums Along the Mohawk” (1939), “National Velvet” (1944), “My Friend Flicka” (1943), “Thunderhead, Son of Flicka” (1945), “The Green Grass of Wyoming” (1948), and “Smoky” (1950). Duck Creek was also featured on the television shows “How the West Was Won” and “Daniel Boone.”
Duck Creek soon became known as “Movie Ranch,” a name residents proudly still display today on street signs and buildings.
Since its movie days, Duck Creek has continued to grow. Duck Creek is a popular place for second home-owners looking for a nice, relaxing place in the mountains. Only 5-10 percent of homeowners live there full time, but Duck Creek attracts thousands of visitors every year looking for activities such as hiking, boating, fishing, camping, hunting, and ATV riding.
WHAT TO DO IN AND AROUND DUCK CREEK
There are lots of things to do in and around Duck Creek. Here are some of the most popular activities:
There are several places to camp near Duck Creek, and this is a popular summer activity. Some of the most popular campgrounds include Navajo Lake Campground, Duck Creek Campground, Spruces Campground, and Te-Ah Campground. Here is some more information about each one:
Navajo Lake Campground – located at an elevation of 9,200 feet, Navajo Lake is a popular place for fishing, boating, swimming, and camping. Navajo Lake Campground offers campgrounds for a tent or trailer, as well as a Navajo Lake Lodge where you can find comfortable beds, showers, and other amenities.
Duck Creek Campground – Duck Creek Campground is next to Duck Lake, which has excellent fishing. The campground is well maintained, includes flush and vault toilets, and attracts many visitors each season. The campground is open from the end of May through September.
Spruces Campground – Spruces Campground is located next to Navajo Lake and 7 miles from Duck Creek Pond, both of which offer excellent fishing. The campground has flush toilets and drinking water, as well as waterfront sites. Spruces Campground is open from the end of May through September.
Te-Ah Campground – Te-Ah Campground is next to Navajo Lake and is located in a beautiful aspen forest. The campground has flush and vault toilets, as well as drinking spring water. The campground is open from the end of May through September. Nearby attractions include Cascade Falls, Ice Cave, Mammoth Cave, and the Virgin River Rim Trail.
There are many other campgrounds around Duck Creek as well. To learn about more camping options, visit the Duck Creek Visitors Center.
Navajo Lake is a great place to fish. This lake is stocked every year with rainbow and brook trout and is also full of splake. Whether you’re fishing alone or with family or friends, Navajo Lake offers beautiful scenery, plenty of water, and lots of fish. Boating is a popular sport on Navajo Lake, so you may not have the peaceful time while fishing that you would have at some of the other nearby lakes, but there are still plenty of undisturbed areas for a dedicated fisherman.
If you visit Duck Creek in the wintertime, Navajo Lake also offers ice fishing. Keep in mind that you will likely need a snowmobile if you choose to ice fish Navajo Lake.
Another great place to fish and relax is Duck Lake. This small lake is stocked yearly with rainbow trout and also has a decent amount of tiger trout. Perfect for kids and adults, Duck Lake is sure to be a fun activity for the family.
Aspen Mirror Lake is another fishing option. Aspen Mirror Lake is close to Duck Creek Village and has brook and rainbow trout.
Castle Creek Reservoir is a small, but fun little lake located a bit further from Duck Creek Village than the other options. Castle Creek Reservoir typically has fewer visitors than the other lakes because of its distance from Duck Creek, so you may be able to relax a bit more at Castle Creek.
Panguitch Lake is located further away from Duck Creek than the other options, but it’s the biggest lake in the area and offers lots of fishing. If you want to drive the extra 20 miles, Panguitch Lake is a great place to fish and relax.
Navajo Lake is really the only place in the area to go swimming. Even though Navajo Lake isn’t especially large at 3 miles across and half a mile wide, it is the largest lake near Duck Creek Village. Navajo Lake is a great place for swimming, boating, fishing, camping, and relaxing.
The other bodies of water in the area are much smaller and are really only good for fishing. It isn’t encouraged to swim in these other bodies and they aren’t large enough for boating. There are various rivers that run through the area that are deep enough in some places to swim.
If you want to drive half an hour to Panguitch Lake you can find swimming and boating here. Panguitch Lake is bigger than Navajo Lake and offers plenty of room for different groups to boat, fish, and swim.
If you come to Duck Creek at the right time of the year, you may be able to hunt the area. The area around Duck Creek offers lots of wildlife to hunt, including deer, elk, antelope, duck, grouse, wild turkey, and more.
Make sure you plan your trip carefully before planning to hunt in Duck Creek. You’ll need to get the correct tags and pay attention to the open dates. If you wear hunter orange and follow safe hunting practices, you’ll have a great time hunting around Duck Creek.
Hiking is a very popular activity around Duck Creek. Duck Creek is surrounded by beautiful mountains, so wherever you choose to hike is bound to come with some great views.
Cascade Falls (1.2 mi) – This out and back trail leads up to a 100-foot waterfall and is most easily accessed from June to October. Rated as moderate, this trail is great for getting outdoors and enjoying nature.
Virgin River Rim Trail (32 mi) – This is a long, moderate trail available to hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. It follows the headwall of the Virgin River. There are many access points for this trail and a shuttle is available for drop off and pick up. This trail has an elevation gain of 4,200 feet.
Navajo Lake Loop (11.5 mi) – This loop follows the edge of Navajo Lake, providing a great view of the water and surrounding area. You can hike the entire 11.5-mile trail or just do a short section.
Strawberry Point (0.2 mi) – This is an extremely short, very easy hike up to Strawberry Point.
Deer Hollow Loop (4.2 mi) – This is an easy trail perfect for beginners and hikers of all skill levels. There are beautiful wildflowers along this trail and the scenery is amazing. It has an elevation gain of 305 feet.
You can learn about many other hikes by visiting the Duck Creek Visitors Center.
Mammoth Cave – Mammoth Cave is located about 8 miles away from Duck Creek Village. It was created by cooling lava, which formed tubes underground and made for a nice place to explore. There are three entrances and four large tunnels to investigate. The further in you go the smaller the cave gets until eventually, you’re crawling on your stomach. You can turn around as soon as you no longer want to continue forwards. Make sure to bring flashlights, because the cave is very dark.
Bower Cave – Bower Cave is a little closer to Duck Creek, only about 5 miles away, but is the lesser-known of the two. Getting into this cave involves climbing down a ladder about twelve feet, so if you have kids make sure to send an adult down first. Because the entrance is so small, very little light gets into the cave. Make sure to bring a flashlight. The ground is often wet and muddy and is full of loose rocks, so always be careful when exploring this cave!
Ice Cave – Ice Cave is located just three miles away from Duck Creek Village (although in the opposite direction from the other caves). This is a fun cave to explore, but make sure to bring a flashlight, jacket, and sturdy shoes. The entrance to the cave is steep and rocky, so kids may need some help. But once inside, the short downward climb will be well worth it. The cave is cold year-round and almost always has icicles and snow, even during the summer.
A popular activity around Duck Creek Village is ATV riding. This is where Duck Creek Adventures can help! We offer UTV rentals in multiple packages that fit your need! There are many places to ride, including the following designated trails:
Markagunt Trail System – This trail system consists of about 500 miles of interconnected ATV loops. There are over 50 trails in total. Each trail is listed as “easiest,” “more difficult” and “most difficult” so you can take the trail that best fits your ATV abilities.
Strawberry Loop – This loop consists of 9 different trails ranging from easy to extremely hard, although the majority of the trails are rated as easy. The main trail runs past the Ice Cave, which is a fun place to explore and see icicles and snow year-round.
Tommy Creek Loop – This loop goes past Mammoth Cave, which is a large cave accessible from June through October.
There are other trails and places to ride ATV’s other than those mentioned, but these are the most popular areas to ride.
There are several national parks within a fairly short drive of Duck Creek Village, including Zions, Bryce Canyon, and Capitol Reef. There are also many national monuments nearby, including Cedar Breaks and Grand Staircase-Escalante. Duck Creek itself is located inside Dixie National Forest, and so are most of the nearby attractions. Each of these parks and monuments offers additional hiking trails and campgrounds, as well as many other outdoor activities.
WHAT TO SEE IN AND AROUND DUCK CREEK
Not only is there plenty to do in and around Duck Creek, but there is also plenty to see.
There’s a lot of wildlife around Duck Creek. Some of the animals you may see include cougar, fox, bobcat, blue grouse, golden eagle, cottontail rabbit, wild turkey, antelope, and prairie dog. Always be respectful of wildlife and don’t disturb their habitats.
The landscape around Duck Creek is amazing. You can see deep canyons, red rock cliffs, rock spires, lava rock fields, mountain meadows, and rolling hills. There are aspen trees, as well as pine, spruce, and fir trees. During the spring and summer, the landscape will be full of wildflowers, and during the fall the brightly colored leaves will take your breath away. In the wintertime, white snow covers the ground and trees and gives any winter wonderland a run for its money.
There are also plenty of lookout spots along the highway so you can stop and enjoy the view.
You can see these things whether hiking, biking, riding ATVs or just driving around.
TOP ATTRACTIONS OF DUCK CREEK
To break down everything that has been mentioned above, here are some of the great places to visit in and around Duck Creek:
- Mammoth Cave
- Ice Cave
- Bower Cave
- Aspen Mirror lake
- Navajo Lake
- Duck Creek Pond
- Cascade Falls
- Castle Creek Reservoir
- Panguitch lake
- Virgin River Rim Trail
- Strawberry Point
- Deer Hollow Loop