February is the best time of the year to see one of America’s most iconic birds. Bald eagles fly to Utah in the winter to find food and escape colder conditions farther north. By the time February arrives, hundreds of eagles are typically in the state.
In the past, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has held viewing events in February where you can see the eagles and learn more about them. However, to try to lessen the spread of COVID-19, the DWR won’t hold bald eagle viewing events this winter.
There are plenty of places where you can see eagles on your own, though. And, you can pick up a free, collectible Bald Eagle Month pin at several locations.
A word of caution: if you’re driving and looking for eagles, please do so safely.
- Don’t stop in the middle of the road if you see an eagle.
- Pull completely off the road before viewing.
- Don’t allow yourself to get distracted while looking for the birds.
Your safety, and the safety of other motorists, comes first.
Cedar City is the place to go to see bald eagles in southwestern Utah. Bald eagles are often visible at two roosts in and near the city:
- Rush Lake Ranch at 9600 N. Minersville Highway (state Route 130), approximately 12 miles north of Cedar City.
- A group of cottonwood trees west of 3900 W. and 2700 N. in Cedar City.
By mid-February, Bald Eagle Month pins should be available for pickup at the front desks at both the DWR Cedar City office and the Washington County Field Office.
Because of COVID-19, a bald eagle viewing event held in Fountain Green for the past 20 years won’t be held this year. Bald eagle displays will not be available at the Fountain Green State Fish Hatchery, and tours of the hatchery will not be offered.
There are still lots of places in Sanpete County to see eagles, though.
DWR Regional Conservation Outreach Manager Scott Root encourages you to grab some binoculars or a spotting scope, and drive from Fountain Green to the small town of Wales, and then from Wales to Moroni.
“This short drive will often produce an eagle or two to view,” Root says. “Eagles can be found in some of the large, leafless trees, on fence posts, or even on the ground.”
Occasionally, you might find an eagle roosting on a tree or utility pole next to a road. “Eagles usually fly off once a car door is opened,” he says, “so it’s best to stay in your vehicle and view from a distance.”
Root reminds you not to trespass on private property.
If you bring binoculars or a spotting scope, you can typically get great views of bald eagles at several spots in northern Utah. Here are some of the best:
- In the big cottonwood trees at Rendezvous Beach on the south end of Bear Lake.
- In trees along the Blacksmith Fork River east of Hyrum.
- In trees along the Weber River near Croydon and just below Echo Reservoir.
- Along the road leading to Lost Creek Reservoir. The reservoir is north of Croydon.
- Willard Bay Reservoir west of Willard. You can often see eagles in trees near the reservoir and on the iced-capped reservoir itself.
- Compton’s Knoll at the Salt Creek Waterfowl Management Area west of Corinne. You can view bald eagles and other wildlife from the Compton’s Knoll viewing area on the northeast side of the WMA. The rest of the WMA is closed to visitors.
- The Eccles Wildlife Education Center at the Farmington Bay WMA west of Farmington. You can often see eagles on the portion of the WMA near the center. If you spot an eagle on the WMA, please remember not to stop your vehicle in the middle of the road. Instead, pull off to the side of the road so other vehicles can pass.Also, while you’re at the center, consider stepping inside and checking out the displays. A display featuring both a bald eagle and a golden eagle are among the displays you’ll see. Two additional displays focus on wetland habitats and upland habitats and the birds and other wildlife that use them.Admission to the center at 1157 S. Waterfowl Way is free. It’s open Tuesdays through Fridays, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
While you’re at the center, you can also pick up a free Bald Eagle Month pin. The pins should be available by mid-February at the center, the DWR’s Ogden office at 515 E. 5300 S. in South Ogden, and the Cache Valley Public Shooting Range at 2851 W. 200 N. in Logan.
Eagles are often visible along the Green River near the Ouray National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge’s auto tour loop begins just before you reach the refuge headquarters at 19001 E. Wildlife Refuge Road in Randlett.
You can often see bald eagles near open areas of water, high in the trees above the river. You may also observe golden eagles along the cliffs that run next to the main refuge road.
Prepare for this trip by bringing your binoculars or a good spotting scope. Also, wear warm clothes. If you’d like, you can take a short hike through the river hardwood trees where you might see porcupines that live in the area. The bathrooms at the refuge will be open.
To reach the auto tour route, travel on U.S. Highway 40 — roughly 14 miles west of Vernal or 13 miles east of Roosevelt — and turn south on State Route 88. Travel south on SR-88 for 14 miles, and then turn left into the refuge entrance. The refuge headquarters is 1 mile down the entrance road.
Bald Eagle Month pins should be available for pickup at the DWR’s Vernal office after Feb. 15.