Lion's Mouth Cave

Round Trip Distance: 0.6 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 6556 - 6641 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 45 mins.
Trailhead: Lion's Mouth Cave
Fee: none
Attractions: pictographs

Lion's Mouth Cave is located in the Dixie National Forest west of Cedar City, Utah where a short trail leads up to a shallow alcove that contains numerous pictographs that stretch from one end of the cave to the other. The sandstone knoll that somewhat resembles a crouching mountain lion, and being of the same color as its fur, may have given rise to the name of the cave.

For step-by-step driving directions enter Lion's Mouth Cave into your driving app or after taking Exit 59 on Interstate 15 at Cedar City drive west on Utah 56 for 16.7 miles. Turn left onto the Pinto Road and continue for 1.2 miles where the trailhead will be on the right side of the road. During good weather the Pinto Road is accessible to all highway vehicles.

A sign at the trailhead reminds visitors to help preserve the ancient heritage of all archeological sites. Another such sign is located just outside of the cave. The signs are good reminders for parents to instruct there children how to help preserve the images by not touching them.

The family friendly trail climbs a moderate slope up and around the shoulder of the mountain on a hard packed surface. During the spring months wildflowers such as phlox and bladderpod, that are common in the area, are some of the first to great hikers as they stroll up the gentle slope.

At the mouth of the shallow cave a short rounded ridge of slickrock presents an obstacle to some visitors. Kids and other nimble hikers find it easy enough to walk right up the gritty sandstone surface and into the cave while others find it more of a scramble on all fours going up and a scoot on their seats coming back down.

Once inside the alcove the pictographic images can be seen stretched out all along the back wall.

The images were painted with red and yellow ochre as well as some white colored paint and some with black wetted charcoal. One source mentions that a well meaning, yet completely misguided, local attempted to restore the images by painting over them. We saw no samples of any modern types of oil base or enamel paints other than possibly a single white blotch.

The images on the right side of the alcove seem to have a different theme than those on the left.

Here there are a variety of shapes with solid red circles centered within extended lobes. (Not all of them look like the Easter Bunny.)

The left side of the alcove consists of a long connected chain extending in both directions from a central figure.

Parts of the long chain do look like they have been blotted or smeared but it seems to be of the same red ochre and blotted out, or painted over, images aren't unheard of.

Many traditional shapes can be found blended in along the length of the line. Hardly noticeable here are a front and rear paw of a probable grizzly bear.

We had backed our trailer into a primitive campsite next to the parking area but we didn't actually set up and spend the night here. There is another trailhead across the road with room for more primitive camping that can also accommodate trailers. If you are camping be sure not to camp anywhere along the trail or near or in the cave itself. While we were at the Lion's Mouth Cave there were 3 families with small children that were also there. Judging from previous photos that we had seen beforehand it appears to be a very popular family hike. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.