We finish up our time in Panguitch, Utah, with two more easy hikes: Arches Trail in Dixie National Forest near Red Canyon State Park and the Kodachrome Nature Trail in Kodachrome Basin State Park.
Hikers can access the Arches Trail two miles east of SR 12 off US 89. Look on the north side for a gravel road and sign that says Lossee/Casto and follow it to the Lossee Canyon parking area.
The arches trail is north of the parking lot. I was determined to capture every one of the 15 arches along the three-quarter-mile loop trail when I started out.
I soon lost count and missed a few on the way, so ended up with only a handful. Well, let’s make that a handful and a half.
I spared you the boredom of viewing all the photos I took. You’re welcome.
The nature trail at Kodachrome State Park gives hikers a chance to learn about the park in less than 1/2 mile. Informational signs explain the various points of interest that include trees, bushes, soil, monoliths, and other features seen along the trail.
This trail is a good place to slow down, take in the sights, and imagine what it must have been for explorers as they encountered the area for the first time.
To learn more about Kodachrome Basin State Park, visit our post dated November 9, 2017, here.
As our time in Panguitch came to an end, the virus began its worse infection and death surge across the nation. As county after county and state after state slammed their doors shut on visitors, we started our trek home.
We continue our Panguitch, Utah, visit with more of Bryce Canyon National Park and hikes in Red Canyon State Park.
Kevin and Bailey found the Bryce Canyon to Red Canyon Bike Trail a perfect road for trying out their new foldable bicycles. We dropped them off at Inspiration Point in Bryce Canyon and picked them up at Thunder Mountain Trailhead in Red Canyon State Park.
While Kevin and Bailey navigated the peaks and valleys of the trail on their bikes, Jon and I enjoyed the views at Inspiration Point. What impressed me the most at the point was the overlook that jutted out into the canyon.
I had the feeling I was walking on a jetty with views of hoodoos to the right of me and more hoodoos to the left of me.
On our way out of the park, we stopped at a few of the overlooks and went in the store at Ruby’s Inn to wander around the gift shop.
On Scenic Byway SR-12, we had seen the turnout with information signs that had a splendid view of a meadow and Bryce Canyon Airport. We stopped to see what we could learn from the signs. The airport doesn’t look like much from the road, but it is a valuable asset to the community.
The airport, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, comprises the Great Depression Era hangar built of native ponderosa pine in 1936 through the Works Progress Administration (WPA) project. Eleven years later, on October 24, 1947, flames erupted on a DC-6. Flight 608 didn’t make it to the landing strip during its emergency landing. Instead, it crashed in Bryce National Park 1.3 miles away, killing all on board. To determine the cause of this aviation disaster, investigators reconstructed the charred remains. A process used for the first time and ever since.
Today thousands of tourists arrive by air each year to visit Bryce Canyon National Park and the surrounding area. The airport also serves as critical emergency support for the area, a staging area for search and rescue operations, and fire monitoring and management during fire events. After reading the information signs, I felt safer knowing that if I was hurt or became ill, help was only a short helicopter or plane ride away.
Bryce Canyon Pines Restaurant enticed us with their sign advertising fresh pies and ice cream. While we shared a sandwich and a slice of cherry pie with ice cream, we watched for the bicyclists to pass by but never saw them.
We continued on and checked out a few more overlooks on our way to Thunder Mountain Trailhead where we had arranged to meet.
So, how was Kevin and Bailey’s bicycle ride? They enjoyed the 18.6-mile ride that took them through the forest at certain points and alongside the scenic SR-12, SR-63, and US-89 roads. Although, they almost gave up after fighting against a steep grade and seeing the truck parked outside of Bryce Canyon Pines. The trail was mostly downhill after that, so they kept going.
We visited Red Canyon State Park more than once. The Pink Ledges Trail is an interpretive hike with numbered posts that correspond to a guide available at the Visitor Center. We followed it along to the Hoodoo Trail and then back to the parking lot.
These hoodoos reminded me of sentries standing guard outside of the castle walls.
The Tunnel Trail was a steep climb with switchbacks, one of which seemed carved into the slope of the mountain and would be quite difficult for anyone with vertigo to navigate. The view from the top was well worth the hike.
For the Birdseye Trail, we parked at a turnout west of the Visitor Center and crossed the street. This is a well-used trail with Ys and Ws that branch off the main trail and led us off in the wrong direction a few times.
Check out the spirals on this tree. Is it a sign the tree has adapted to the environment? Causes of the spirals might include poorly drained or uneven soil, windy conditions, or a heavy or uneven canopy. The spiral pattern may occur to allow sap and food to more efficiently distribute to all the roots and branches.
Next up in part six, we continue our Panguitch visit by hiking the Arches Trail in Lossee Canyon and drive out to Kodachrome State Park.
Hitch-N-Post Campground was our base camp in Panguitch, Utah. We checked in on October 9, 2020, for a nine-night stay. Since our last visit in 2018, the owner had doubled the size by adding an entire section with plenty of room to accommodate big rigs and space for off-road enthusiasts to park their ATV toys. Our site was snug between the office and the neighboring rig, which I wasn’t too keen on in the beginning. When the wind came up, I was glad for the close quarters.
The gang that likes to fish, which does not include me, took off two days during our stay to fish the Sevier River. The campground owner mapped out his secret fishing spot a few miles from Panguitch.
The few fish the gang caught weren’t big enough for us to have a full dinner, so Bailey cooked up some dynamite fish cakes to serve as tasty appetizers.
While the gang went fishing, I worked on mundane household chores, cleaning the trailer’s sandy floor after our escapade at Wright Family Ranch and washing the laundry. Every day can’t be a holiday for a clean freak like me.
We drove into Bryce Canyon National Park on one of our first days and found a parking spot at Sunset Point. Our goal was a hike on the Navajo Trail through Wall Street, connecting with the Queen’s Garden Trail, and climbing out of the valley at Sunrise Point.
The whole route was about three miles. This is a popular hike where we encountered several people along the way. Fortunately, the trail was wide enough in most spots to avoid people without their masks.
So how were these hoodoos formed? According to the Bryce Canyon website, the canyon and rock formations were formed through a three-step process that began around 50 million years ago. The three steps are: 1. Deposition of Rocks, 2. Uplift of the Land, and 3. Weathering and Erosion.
In the first step, Bryce Canyon started out in a low-lying area near sea level and surrounded by higher ground on the west side. Rain washed through the higher ground, developing into streams that picked up tiny particles of limestones, dolostones, mudstones, siltstones and sandstones and deposited them in the valley below. Limestone, mainly composed of calcium carbonate, bonded the particles together, and created the canyon’s rock.
The second step occurred when the Farallon Plate descended underneath the North American plate, creating heat to rise and elevate the “Four Corners” area of the Colorado Plateau. As such, the Bryce rocks ended up at the perfect elevation for creating the hoodoos. Can you imagine the power, energy, and force it took to raise 240,000 square miles from sea level to 9,000 feet? It’s mind-boggling. Of course, the event did not happen overnight. It took millions of years.
Weather and erosion sculpt the hoodoos in the third phase. The varying degree and types of deposition and calcium carbonate that occurred in the first step determine how quickly the rock layers erode. Slightly acidic rain dissolves the calcium carbonate faster than other types of rock.
That’s why the hoodoos have different shapes or a lone hoodoo might stand off all by itself. That lone hoodoo contains less calcium carbonate than the rock that surrounded it. The hoodoos we see today may look a little different the next time we see them, if enough time has passed.
Bryce Canyon sits at an elevation of 9,000 feet. At this elevation, the park counts over 200 nights out of the year when both above-freezing and below-freezing temperatures occur during the same night.
In the third step, rain or melting snow seeps into cracks in the rock and freezes into ice. The ice expands up to 9%, causing pressure on the surrounding rock and breaking it apart. Over millions of years, plateaus become fins and walls. Then windows develop. And eventually, the sculpted hoodoos take shape.
This post shows only a small portion of what is available to explore in Bryce Canyon. With 15 hikes ranging from one hour to five hours, hikers have plenty to choose from whether their visit is for one day or more.
Next up we continue our exploration of Bryce National Park and the surrounding area.
Personal Note: Because of the increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations the past few weeks, our county reverts to shelter-in-place beginning Monday, December 7, 2020, through January 4. We’re all holding our breaths, saying prayers, crossing our fingers, and staying safe until the vaccine is available. Hope you all stay safe too.
On October 4, 2020, we packed up and moved to Zion Wright Family Ranch Campground about ten miles northeast of Virgin, Utah. The Wright Family has owned the ranch and eco-camp for six generations.
Don’t expect a staffed office for check-in or restrooms. Just drive through the fence opening, find a spot near a campfire ring that’s not already occupied, and set up. Oh, and pick a site away from the road and position your unit to avoid drifting sand from vehicles roaring down the dusty road.
Porta-Potties are the only other amenity available. We can’t vouch for their cleanliness since we preferred our onboard facilities. Be prepared like a Scout with plenty of water, food, and fuel. It’s a long way back to town.
Amenities were not what attracted us to the place. Our goal was to enjoy the clear star-gazing skies and find a hike or two. We were not disappointed on either account.
The sky our first night was amazing. It had been decades since I’d seen the Milky Way so full of stars. It looked as though I could reach out and touch it. The big dipper hung above the horizon while we munched s’mores, dripping chocolate and marshmallow all over our hands. I can still picture in my mind all the stars, constellations, and Milky Way when I think of that night.
The next day we found two hikes to keep us busy. The first was Lamb’s Knoll, a popular cayoneering site in the Kolob Terrace area of Zion National Park.
We lacked the gear and knowledge to scale any of the boulders and cliffs, so we hiked around them and through slot canyons. On the backside of the knoll, we found a beautiful view of the valley below.
The second hike was the Left Fork Trailhead that leads to the Subway. The entire trail to the Subway and back is nine miles, which was too strenuous and long for us after our time at Lamb’s Knoll.
The Subway is rated a semi-technical slot canyon hike that requires hikers to wade and swim through the river, scramble over boulders, and climb down waterfalls. For hikers wanting to go all the way to The Subway, they must pick up permits at one of the Zion NP visitor centers.
We stayed on the well-maintained trail that passed through pine trees, shrubs, and prickly pear until we reached the technical part, which was a steep descent into the valley. We stopped to take in the views and watch a couple navigate up the cliff.
On our way back to the parking lot, a wrong turn led us on a half-mile or so detour down a dry riverbed between canyon walls, then back again until we found the correct turnoff.
No one was interested in cooking dinner after our hard work of hiking, so we drove into Hurricane for a Mexican dinner at Las Lupitas Mexican Grill. We’re always on the lookout for good Mexican food, and Lupitas fit the bill.
A layer of thin clouds foiled our expectation for a repeat of the celestial skies of the previous night. That was okay with us. We enjoyed another night around the campfire before it was time for bed.
The morning we left, I woke up early enough to capture this colorful sunrise.
Coming up, we pull into Hitch-N-Post Campground in Panguitch, Utah, our base camp for Bryce National Park and Red Canyon State Park.