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Journey to Fish Lake

Located just 22 miles from the historic Road Creek Inn in Loa, Fish Lake is Utah’s largest natural mountain lake offering trophy fishing and bird watching opportunities, as well as a variety of outdoor recreation including remote country backpacking, horseback riding, and off-highway vehicle use on designated trails.

Located in the Fishlake National Forest in central Utah, Fish Lake is known as the “gem of Utah” for their Mackinaw lake trout that grow to more than 50 pounds. Rainbow trout, tiger muskie, Splake and yellow perch are also common catches by anglers on the waters that are also popular for ice fishing in the winter.

Although Native Americans had used Fish Lake for centuries, in the early 1800s the lake was also a favorite for early Spanish/Mexican traders, American hunters and trappers, and the occasional outlaw hiding in this pristine, isolated part of Utah.

In 1873, a delegation from the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints negotiated rights with Ute elders to hunt and fish the lake. All Ute water rights to the lake were sold to the Fremont Irrigation Company in 1889, “for nine fine horses, 500 pounds of flour, one good beef steer, one suit of clothes, and the right to fish the Fish Lake outlet forever,” according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website.

President William McKinley created a forest reserve that included Fish Lake in 1899 with a proclamation giving ownership of the lake to all Americans. Fish Lake’s oldest resident is known as the Trembling Giant, or Pando, Latin for “I spread.” Pando is a clonal colony of single male quaking aspen. In the early 1970s, University of Michigan researcher Dr. Burton Barnes discovered Pando is

actually one single living organism, by identical genetic markers, that shares one massive underground parent root system.

“An aspen clone starts with a single seed and spreads by sending up new shoots from the expanding root system,” according to the USDA Forest Service website. “These shoots become trees that are genetically identical.”

Not only is Pando among the world’s oldest known living organisms, estimated to be 80,000 years old, the entity is also widely considered the heaviest known living organism on earth with an approximate weight of 13.2 million pounds.

Although clonal colonies of quaking aspen are common in eastern North America, their size is generally less than 10 acres. Pando, located one mile southwest of Fish Lake, encompasses approximately 106 acres consisting of more than 40,000 trees. In 2006, the United States Postal Service published a stamp in commemoration of the Trembling Giant as one of the “40 Wonders of America.”

Fish Lake is also a favorite among wildlife viewers with elk, deer, black bear, moose, cougar and mountain goats, and more than 150 species of birds living in the area. While fishing on the expansive waters of Fish Lake, anglers are not the only ones vying for a meal. Osprey, a large fish-eating raptor with a five-foot wingspan, can often be seen plunging into the water mere feet from a fishing boat and resurfacing with a fish in its talons. For those who like to fish several outlets, Crater Lakes, Johnson’s, Mill Meadow and Forsyth reservoirs are all within a thirty- minute drive from Fish Lake.

After a day of hiking, fishing or touring the protected lands of Fishlake National Forest, Road Creek Inn offers travelers modern-day luxuries in a quaint, historic setting.

Once part of the Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution from 1912-20, the building also served as the Loa Co-op from 1920-40. Now more than 100 years old, Road Creek Inn offers state-of-the-art amenities such as Internet access, a sauna for relaxing, and in-room microwaves and refrigerators after the hotel was completely renovated in 2012. Road Creek Inn, the “University of the Parks” field station at Capitol Reef managed by Southern Utah University,

is perfect for educational programs, family reunions, weddings, youth camps and conferences, and is only a short two-hour drive from Cedar City, three hours from Salt Lake City, and only five hours from Las Vegas.

Located near Capitol Reef National Park, Arches National Park, and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Road Creek Inn serves as a gateway to several historic Mormon pioneer towns and buildings, national parks, lakes, Native American ruins and protected forest lands, and is a great environment to escape too many of Utah’s phenomenal outdoor activities. To book your next retreat at Road Creek Inn, visit their website at suu.edu/siel/roadcreekinn, email them at roadcreekinn@suu.edu or call (435) 865-8259.

Story Courtesy of Haven Scott

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