Waking up in Cedar City, the skies were overcast and the morning air was cool and refreshing. Just what we were looking for as a break from the Las Vegas heat. We were in no hurry so we stopped at the local Lin’s grocery to pick up some items for the cookout that we had planned for that night. After getting all of the essentials for a summer BBQ we left Cedar City behind and made our way to today’s destination, Panguitch Lake.
The scenery in southern Utah is some of the most spectacular in the west, and our drive today is no exception. We went east out of town following Coal Creek, going upstream and up hill. The grades increased and the canyon narrowed. Several miles into our climb there is a pullout for an overlook from which it seems you can see all of southwest Utah. Althought it is nearly 50 miles away, looking south you can see Zion canyon. Even at this distance some of the famous formations are distinguishable, especially the Great White Throne. At this point we had reached the top of the plateau and the drive leveled off. Then we turned onto the highway that leads to Cedar Breaks National Monument. This part of the drive took us through high mountain meadows, and even thought it was the last weekend in July the wild flowers were still in bloom. The elevation is so high and the climate so extreme that the flowers don’t bloom until July and in just a couple of months from now this meadow will see it’s first snows of the fall, any by November the road that we drove will probably be closed for the winter and impassible because of snow. One meadow we passed through had two deer just off the side of the road casually eating the grasses and as we passed on slowly raised its head and turned to look at us as if we were intruders interrupting its meal.
An hour after leaving Cedar City we rounded a bend in the road and the lake came into view. We spent the night at Bear Paw Fishing Resort which is right across the highway from the lake and far enough away from anything that there is no cell phone service. Our cabin was not ready when we arrived so we had a picnic lunch while waiting for them to finish. Panguitch Lake is a man made reservoir with an earthen dam, and the main source of recreation on the lake is fishing. It is stocked with several types of trout including rainbow, brook, and cutthroat. There are boat rentals for going out on the lake to fish and plenty of opportunities to fish along the shoreline, which many people were doing while we were there. One of the best places to fish is right off of the dam since the water is deeper and also on the other side the water rushes from the lake. There were a couple of fishermen who were very successful from this spot and we saw their catch. There are also great opportunities for other activities in the area including touring on ATV’s and hiking. We took advantage of the chance to hike and followed the creek downstream from the dam to a large, rushing waterfall before returning to our cabin for the night.
Back at the cabin, we lit the fire in the pit and got the grill ready for cooking on the campfire. We threw the burgers and hot dogs on and enjoyed one of the great traditions of summer, finishing it off with smores. As the sun set, the sky started to clear and stars started to fill the blackened sky, something that in Las Vegas is drowned out by the constant glow of the Strip. We sat around the fire for hours listening to the cracking of the wood and watching the dancing of the flames, just enjoying the tranquility. After a wonderful day, as the flames turned to embers and the air became chilly, it was time to call it a night.
Panguitch Lake, Utah July 2011