2018 Road Trip Part 3 – Zion National Park & Panguitch Lake, UT

This will not be the normal, happy, “amazing!” blog. Though we did have some of those moments, we also had quite a few challenges. Before we get to that, the campground…

On Wednesday, June 13, we drove from Moab to Panguitch Lake Campground in UT, a 5+ hour drive. There was a lot of nothing on this drive, though it was pretty once we entered the forest. The campground is at an elevation of 8,400 so we loved the cooler temps after being in Moab. After we arrived & got set up, we drove over to the lake just to touch the water. There were ground hogs everywhere (also called Prairie dogs according to the camp host) and they were quite comical. Have you ever seen the “Alan Alan Alan Steve Alan…” video? Since our son is Alan, we do this to him all the time, and had a little fun with the Prairie dogs.


Panguitch has campgrounds on both sides of the highway and we were on the north side. Our campsite had a small view of the lake, which provided a beautiful sunrise.04b05
The sites are fairly spread out so you don’t feel crowded at all. Our site was nice with some shade, but it was unlevel, so our trailer was way up high on blocks. This made me very nervous, but I worried unnecessarily.0302

So, our real adventures started the next day when we had made plans to go to Zion National Park. We had backpacks (the mule type, plenty of water), packed our lunch and several snacks. I had researched how to get there and even printed out directions just in case we didn’t have GPS.

We left at 6:30 AM so we’d get there early, to beat the crowds but also the heat. Our printed directions weren’t working. The very first main turn we were supposed to take didn’t seem to exist. Later on we figured out that many roads had multiple names; we counted as many as FOUR for one highway, and our directions didn’t match the signs so what we thought wasn’t the road we wanted really was. Our GPS didn’t work either (or it was spotty), so I couldn’t view a live map. The shorter route was supposed to be 1 hour 15 minutes (per GPS) but since we couldn’t find our way, we finally chose to take the longer route that we knew, which would be 1 hour and 40 minutes. This was after we’d already been driving around for at least 20 minutes, but at this point, “cest la vie!”

As we approached Zion, the red roads made for a breathtaking sight!010203

We finally arrived at the Visitor Center area at 9:00 (yes, just 2.5 hours! Haha) and by now there was NO parking, cars just circling. We drove around for about 30 minutes and finally had to park about ¼ mile away from the shuttle. When we got to the shuttle stop we found the line was now another 30 minutes long. To save time later, I quickly went in the visitor’s center store to pick up “our collectibles” while the guys waited in line. It was already in the mid-high 80’s.

Our first stop was at the Temple of Sinawava and we hiked down the River Walk to “the Narrows.” There’s shade on and off this trail, so it wasn’t too hot, and the scenery was beautiful!

The Narrows is a canyon-like valley that the river runs through and you can wade in the water. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can keep going for miles (where it will get deeper) and see waterfalls. You need to be mindful of the potential for any anticipated storm activity because it can flood in minutes like it did last month (July 2018), closing the park, and can be very dangerous. (Here’s a video of flash flooding in the narrows from 2014. Wow!) We had brought our water shoes so we wouldn’t have to hike back in wet hiking boots, and it was really fun. The water was cold but we were so hot (mid/high 90’s now) so it felt good. We ate our lunch there by a little waterfall.06b09010 After that we walked back, then took the shuttle to Weeping Rock. By now it was over 100 and I couldn’t handle much more heat, even though it was only .5 mile round trip. It was really cool there though. You could stand under the rock ledge and get wet. 011012b013Once again, Alan & I were pretty done by this point, but Scott wanted to hike the Lower Emerald Pool trail, so while he did that we  went to Zion Lodge for ice cream and sat in the cool grass. It was super windy at this point. Scott returned about 40 mins later and had unfortunately taken the wrong path and he was too hot to go on, so he didn’t make it to Emerald Pools. 014

We took the shuttle back to Stop 2 where we walked the ¼ mile back to our car. On to our next adventure…getting back to our campground. The spotty GPS (which somewhat matched our printed directions, at least visually if not actual road names) now said our trip would be 2 hours. At one point we were directed down a road that started as a paved but rough road, then turned into slippery gravel, then to dirt with huge ruts! So thankful we didn’t have the trailer!!! We couldn’t back up (we’d gone about 6 miles by this point) so we soldiered on and finally reached the highway. You can hear our heavy, tension-relieving sighs as we were approaching the last 30 seconds of this 7 mile “detour.” Sorry for the loud GPS voice at the end. (short video)

We knew now that we could’ve gone another way, but there was no way to know this prior. It took 2 hours & 20 mins to get back to camp. There we found our lawn chairs and rugs had blown several yards away and EVERYTHING was covered in a heavy layer of yellow pollen! Even inside! I cleaned as best I could, but it was even on our bedding ☹ I forgot to take pics of the trailer but here’s our car (pics taken next day after more pollen fell) with yellow fingerprints.0706-pollen

Scott made dinner (what a blessing he is!)…pizza for me and Cowboy Chili for them, but the chili he had brought from our freezer turned out to be my Weight Watchers recipe instead of the Cowboy Chili he had made for the trip…Not exactly what they had in mind but they ate it without complaints.

THEN, I found 1) a leak under the sink, 2) Alan’s bunk window screen was broken, and 3) the shade over our bed had broken.  Scott fixed all of them! (Also thankful he’s a handyman by trade!)  Whew!

The next morning we were ready to leave Utah. We had argued about directions every time we went anywhere, and we were just tired of being so hot. This is the “real” side of camping and road trips. It happens.  Of course, the great adventures far outweigh the bad and I’m GRATEFUL we are able to travel. I realize what a great time we had and how blessed we are to have been able to see this beautiful country.

And, Silver lining! We did see this adorable little covered bridge that we wouldn’t have seen if we hadn’t had the dirt road adventure! :-p IMG_5406

Have you had some mis-adventures? Please tell me you can relate?!!!  And if you’d like to follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/exploringnewhites/

By the way, Lesson Learned: From now on we will bring old-fashioned, printed maps! 🙂


One Comment Add yours

  1. Wow, you had all the ups and downs of a travel experience. I can so relate 🙂 Glad you guys made it to Zion and got some great photos!

    Liked by 1 person

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