Located in the valley between the Markagunt and Pausaugunt Plateaus, Panguitch, Utah is home to some of the most majestic scenery on earth. A Native American Paiute word meaning “Big Fish,” Panguitch is undoubtedly named for the famously plentiful lakes in the nearby mountains, hosting some of the largest rainbow trout in the state and ideal for year-round fishing.
As of the 2000 census, Panguitch reportedly hosts a population of 1,623 people, 502 households, and 392 families. This historically rich town is unassuming, quaint, and full of its own charm. Sprinkled with wild-west history, the city boasts small museums, original architecture, stunning wilderness, and plenty of pioneer spirit. Just 24 miles northwest of Bryce Canyon and surrounded by many National Parks and Monuments, this magical little town is one of Utah’s best kept secrets.
Things to Do in Panguitch
In springtime, Panguitch hosts an Annual Quilt Walk Festival where local quilters display both hand-crafted and machine embroidered works of art, while local performers re-enact the story of Quilt Walk and food lovers highlight their culinary creativity with quintessential pioneer cuisine.
As the gentle warmth of spring fades and the lazy days of summer make their yearly entrance into the town of Panguitch, the city pulses with excitement as pilots launch a sky-full of hot air balloons into the heavens for the annual Panguitch Valley Balloon Rally. As night falls, spectators in the Historic Downtown area encounter the adventurous spirit of the town’s past, mixed in the magic of glowing hot air balloons as they parade up and down Main and Center Streets, like enormous planets waiting to be explored in the starlit sky.
Rodeos, concerts, horse racing, sports tournaments, conventions, and equestrian competitions are hosted at the Canyon Country Complex. This state of the art, Triple C Arena is located just off scenic highway 89.
July 24th is one of the town’s biggest celebrations. As the rest of the state pays tribute to the settling of the pioneers in Utah with an annual parade and fireworks, Panguitch commemorates this historic “homecoming” with reunions (family and class), a community breakfast, pit barbeque dinner, races, games, rodeo, and a city dance.
Summer isn’t the only time to enjoy activities in Panguitch. A New Year’s Eve party is held every year at the indoor Triple C Arena. The whole town comes out to celebrate and enjoy food, games and live entertainment. Ice fishermen can ring in the new year by participating in the Panguitch Lake “Big Fish” Derby. Beginning the first Saturday in January they vie for cash and other prizes by catching the largest fish.
For those desiring a more personal tribute to the early settlers of Panguitch, a historic cemetery awaits visitors just two miles east of the town on Highway 89. This hauntingly beautiful burial ground hosts tombstones dated as early as 1870.
Although small and relatively unknown to the larger world, the town of Panguitch still quietly bustles with its own city affairs, offering plenty of conveniences for its ever-growing tourism. Hosting fourteen motels, eight restaurants, five fast food eateries, five gas and convenience stores, a fabric store, two grocery stores, two hardware stores, a hospital and clinic, real estate offices, and a Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum, this vibrant community still thrives.
It was March 1864 when four Mormon families braved the rugged terrain of Utah’s untamed south central canyon lands and settled the small town of Panguitch, Utah. Facing starvation, harsh winters, and tension with the local Native tribes, these pioneers risked survival to establish a community where their beliefs and lifestyle could thrive.
Due to the infamous Black Hawk War raging between the Mormons and the Natives, the first settlement in Panguitch was hesitantly abandoned in 1866. Yet determined pioneers returned in 1871 to continue their predecessors work.
Located in canyon territory around 6,630 feet above sea level, settlers of Panguitch faced the challenge of finding a way to effectively utilize the areas short growing seasons and endure the long, bitter winters.
The first winter thoroughly tested the settlers’ survival skills. With supply routes blocked by snow and crops freezing immaturely, residents, growing dangerously hungry, gathered seven men who volunteered to make the perilous journey over the mountain to secure flour.
With snow too deep for wagons, the volunteers were forced to walk most of the trek. To avoid falling through the snow’s crust, the men used quilts to cover the surface of the snow, creating a cushion to safely walk across. Reaching the end of one quilt, they would place another one down before retrieving the first. This technique led the men safely to the neighboring settlement, and back home again, saving the inhabitants from starvation and blazing into Utah’s history as the famous “quilt walkers.” To honor the innovation of these brave men, the town of Panguitch hosts an annual “Quilt Walk,” reenacting the perilous journey and highlighting local quilters with their embroidered works of art.