Road Trip 18: Valle, AZ – Panguitch, UT

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Day 17: Valle, AZ – Panguitch, UT
Hiking to Ooh Ah Point

After checking out of the motel, we headed back up to the Canyon for a second day of exploration, and I couldn’t resist a little hike down. As we were pushed for time, and Van and Amy don’t really hike, we didn’t go too far, but even the hour or so walk down to the jauntily but accurately named Ooh Ah Point was well worth the effort. From within, the view of the Canyon changes, with the dramatic jutting of the escarpments more evident. We were also lucky to encounter a mule train making its way up – they have right of way, and so I got to sit perched on the edge of the path and watch them staidly head up.

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Views of the Canyon.

 

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Mule Train Walking up the South Kaibab Trail

In spite of the heat, and the numerous warnings that hiking to the Colorado River and back in a day should not be attempted, quite a few hikers we encountered were heading down to the bottom (some with camping permits, some doing the day trip), and I must admit that I was a little jealous. I’d definitely love to come back hiking here, and possibly also rafting down in the Colorado River. It’s simply a spectacular landscape that I think would abundantly reward a longer exploration. Nevertheless, I’m very grateful for what we did see – hiking always gets you a better view!

 

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At Ooh Ah Point
Driving to Utah

We left the Canyon just after lunch and made our way north towards the border with Utah. As the Canyon is so enormous – 277 miles in length! – you have to drive east before you can make your way north. It was no hardship though, as the journey into northern Arizona and through to southern Utah was one of the most beautiful of the entire trip, with spectacular red rock formations, big skies and a sense of beautiful desolation. Parts of the landscape looked as if they belonged on another planet.

The road was truck-free and essentially empty, so the drive felt like classic American road trip territory; we whacked up the radio (on a side note, I now seem to know the lyrics to most current American country hits – country being the only genre of station that is ALWAYS within range), put our feet down on the gas, and headed on.

Panguitch

As we went north through Utah, the land gradually became more forested and, well, terrestrial, and we eventually wound up in a southern Utah mountain town called Panguitch. Panguitch is a gateway resort to Bryce and Zion National Parks, and seemed to be quite cool, with a range of bars and restaurants as well as a nice country-style independent motel that felt pleasantly honey.

As we were late arriving, the popular place we’d hoped to eat at was full, so we went next door to a local diner, which served up classic Americana, including this rather delicious root beer float. A refreshing end to a lovely day in the West.

Highlights: hiking the Canyon, the spectacular landscape of South Utah.

Lowlights: not having more time to hike the Canyon, horribly chapped lips from the heat. Finding out later that we missed Horseshoe Bend. Need to do more research next time!

Up next: Hoodoos, rain, arguments with the sat nav…

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