Five months ago, I left off my last post having just left Canyonlands National Park, heading further south to visit Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. I had booked a motel for the evening in Panguitch, Utah, which is a three or four hour drive from Moab. The drive there was uneventful, with relatively little in the way of scenery. I mostly followed the interstate, until about an hour outside of Panguitch, where I exited onto state route 89.
Route 89 winds through scrub desert, farmland, and several very small towns nestled between modest mountains. I arrived in Panguitch and discovered that it, too, is very small. In contrast to Moab, though, it didn’t seem to have much of a tourist draw despite its proximity to Bryce Canyon. As a foreigner, I have to admit that I felt some apprehension at this. Although everyone I’d met in Utah so far had been very friendly and welcoming, a small, isolated town like Panguitch is the kind of place where I imagined that I could encounter a Top Gear-esque redneck mob. Granted, I wasn’t driving around with a purposefully offensive slogan on my car, nor do I really have a discernible accent, but I still felt like a pretty obvious outsider with my Washington plates and conspicuous blue car with absurd spoiler. I was relieved, then, when I checked in at the New Western Motel and was greeted at the front desk by an older Indian man (who I presume is also the owner); it was good to see that the population of Panguitch isn’t completely homogeneous.
If you read the previous post you might recall that I had only slept for a few hours the previous night, as I was up around 3:30am to get pictures of Delicate Arch at night. That being the case, I was exhausted by the time I checked into my room, so I decided to nap for a few hours before heading to Bryce Canyon. It might have just been because I was so tired, but I distinctly recall thinking that the bed in my motel room was among the most comfortable I had ever slept in.
I woke up around five or six in the evening and went to grab dinner from “The Pizza Place” in the nearby town of Tropic. Yes, it’s literally just called “The Pizza Place.” It’s a nice little family-run business, and the pizza was pretty good. I couldn’t help but notice that they had several copies of the Book of Mormon available for guests to peruse. That didn’t surprise me, given that I was in Utah, but I did find it strange that most if not all of the books seemed to be written in Danish.
I made it to the Bryce Amphitheater in Bryce Canyon National Park just in time for sunset, and took the opportunity to walk the Rim Trail and take some pictures. Unfortunately, as it was quickly becoming dark, I didn’t have time to go on any of the hiking trails or explore the rest of the park. I contemplated spending another day in Panguitch and going on a horseback tour of Bryce Canyon, but ultimately opted to leave for Zion National Park the next morning so that I’d have more time there.