There are plenty of things to do in Capitol Reef National Park during your visit. From exploring slot canyons to hiking to arches to driving along the Waterpocket Fold, you could easily fill a week, a weekend, or several weeks exploring the park and nearby Torrey, Utah. But there are also plenty of day trips that you can take during your stay in our Utah villas.
From Cougar Ridge, you can reach many other national parks, state parks, national forests, and more. But many visitors don’t know that there’s one incredibly unique thing to see less than an hour from Torrey; the world’s largest organism.
Keep reading to learn what this organism is, where to see it, and why you should plan a day trip to do so during your next stay at Utah villas.
The World’s Largest Organism
Most visitors to Southern Utah would likely be surprised to learn that the world’s largest organism is located just a short drive away. Capitol Reef National Park has plenty of wildlife.But you won’t find this organism here. It’s larger than the bighorn sheep you might see in the park. It’s even larger than Cougar Ridge’s resident prized longhorn, Thor. In fact, the world’s largest organism isn’t an animal at all; it’s a tree.
The Pando Aspen Clone is a massive collection of aspen trees. Each is connected to a collective root system. The entire collection includes more than 40,000 aspen trees. It weighs an estimated 13 million pounds and covers around 106 acres of land.
Pando, which translates to “I spread” in Latin, is located in Fishlake National Forest. It was first discovered by two ecologists, Burton Barnes and Jerry Kemperman, in 1976. But it has been growing in what is now South Central Utah for thousands of years.
What Makes Pando the World’s Largest Tree and Organism?
Many people believe that the sequoia tree, and specifically the tree named General Sherman, located in Sequoia National Park, is the largest tree. But while this tree is the world’s largest single-stem tree by volume, Pando has it beat by both weight and land mass.
Why is Pando Considered a Single Tree?
Despite having some 40,000 individual trees, the entirety of Pando is considered one “clone” tree. That’s because the aspen tree is capable of reproducing by self-replicating. Despite covering more than 100 acres and featuring over 40,000 individual trunks, the entire system is connected by a single, collective root system.
Visiting Fishlake National Forest
If you want to see Pando for yourself during your stay at our Utah villas, you’re in luck; it’s located just a 45-minute drive away from Cougar Ridge. Pando is particularly popular to visit during the fall months when the leaves on the trees turn vibrant shades of orange and yellow.
But there’s more to see in Fishlake National Forest than just Pando. The park is named for Fish Lake, the largest natural mountain lake in Utah. The lake is a popular spot for trophy fishing, as well as for bird watching. While visiting Fishlake, keep your eyes peeled for black bears, elk, deer, mountain goats, and even moose. The park offers dozens of hiking trails, as well as more than 620 miles of off-road trails that you can explore on ATV or UTV.
If you’re thinking about taking advantage of an off-season visit to Cougar Ridge, you can still plan a day trip to Fishlake. The national forest offers something to experience every season. During the winter, you can even try your hand at ice fishing!
Visiting Pando During Your Stay at Our Utah Villas
In recent years, Pando has been showing signs of decline. Researchers believe that insects and diseases could be to blame. The tree’s regeneration has also slowed, possibly due to overgrazing from deer and other wildlife. The population of many animals like deer has skyrocketed in recent decades as humans wiped out many of their natural predators. This rising population is likely contributing to the damage to Pando.
The Forest Service, in cooperation with other partner organizations, is working to study Pando and to find possible solutions to reverse its decline. But if you want to experience Pando for yourself, now is a great time to do so.
Alongside the many things to do in Capitol Reef, a day trip to Fishlake National Forest is a great addition to your next stay at our Utah villas. Thinking about planning your next trip to Cougar Ridge? Now is a great time to do so!
When you book a stay of two or more nights at Cougar Ridge before March 31, you’ll enjoy a 40 percent discount on your stay! Book today to take advantage of this amazing deal.