To access the landmark through the northern, Utahn side, you’ll need to take Old Highway 91 through the Santa Clara River Valley west of St.George. You’ll wind through the desert hills and at the top of the first hill notice a good dirt road on the right, with a sign for the town of Motoqua, but don’t turn. Keep going about a mile until you see a paved road on the left. This is the northern entrance to the Mojave Desert/Joshua Scenic Backway, the beginning of a 45.6-mile loop on gravel and dirt roads through the Beaver Dam Mountains until you end up on Highway 91 again.
Once on this trial, you’ll leave the highway south of the Shivwits Reservation. Please respect the privacy of the Reservation residents. You’ll pass the Apex Mine, which extracted copper since 1890, though not really in use today. From there the gravel trail cross over into BLM land and the trail gets narrower and slightly rougher before you pass Bulldog Pass. Here’s where the Joshua trees start to appear.
Unfortunately, thanks to recent fires over the last 20 years, much of the Joshua tree landscape is burnt. However, you can still see the densest population of Joshua trees near the southern end of the trail, close to the Arizona border, where you’ll also enter the Woodbury Desert Study Area (used for studying tortoises). Don’t forget to take in the fantastic views around you of the brilliant red cliffs in the distance as well as those of Zion National Park. Follow the trail back to Highway 91 to make your way back to St. George or follow another trail along the way!
Utah’s own “Dr. Seuss-like” Joshua tree forest inspires a wonder for the complexity and beauty of nature. The Joshua Tree National Natural Landmark in southwest Utah is the northernmost place you can see Joshua trees in the US. As part of the Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Area, it’s also part of the Nature Preserve in Washington County, Utah.
**Note that because the road is not highly maintained these days, high clearance vehicles are preferred but not necessary, especially when dry. The trail length is 45.6 miles.