We arrived in Panguitch (rhymes with sandwich) at the Hitch-in-post campground on Saturday afternoon and while checking in its owner Randy gave us a lot of brochures for the area. Randy mentioned that they roll up the sidewalks in town on Sunday and there isn’t much to do so we decided to take a drive on Utah’s Scenic Byway 12.
Scenic Byway 12 spans a route of 124 miles, and travels through some of the most diverse, remote and ruggedly beautiful landscapes in the country. It runs through Utah’s Garfield and Wayne Counties and is home to two national parks, three state parks, a national recreation area, a national monument, and a national forest.
Our trip started at the Red Canyon with its striking natural variety of weirdly sculpted erosional forms and tunnels. These geologic features extend along the byway for almost four miles, ending on top of the plateau edge.
We entered into the Dixie National Forest, at almost two million acres and stretching from east to west for approximately 170 miles across southern Utah, is the state’s largest national forest. Scenic Byway 12 weaves in and out of Dixie National Forest – The Dixie – three times, crossing three ranger districts: the Powell District to the west, the Escalante District in the middle, and the Teasdale District to the east.
We went pass the turnoff to Hwy 63, which leads to Bryce Canyon National Park since that is on our agenda for next weekend and continued on through three small towns. The first was Tropic, its usual name originated with the claim made by the town’s first settlers that the climate here was much more temperate than that in nearby settlements. Next was Cannonville, which was as settled in 1876 and named after early Mormon leader George Q. Cannon. Cannonville is home to the annual Old Time Fiddlers and Bear Festival. And lastly, the farming town of Henrieville, which was settled in the 1870’s
We continued on through parts of the Grand Staircase -Escalante National Monument, which is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The 1.9 million-acre area is surrounded by national parks, wilderness areas, national forests, state parks, BLM public land, and makes up one of the largest publicly managed land masses in the lower 48 states.
By now, we were hitting “scenery overload” and decided to turn around and head back through the Red Canyon and back to town. We enjoyed our mini road trip and look forward to spending next weekend in Bryce Canyon National Park.