Panguitch Balloon Festival and Exploring the Bryce Canyon Area

June 25, 2021

Eva and I decide to take a short trip to see the Panguitch Balloon Festival and do some riding in the area. We left on Alyssa’s birthday, so we stopped by their place on our way south to wish her happy birthday.

We stopped at the Nephi park to eat a sandwich for lunch and just as we finished the rain started. It was soft rain at first, but it rained pretty hard for about 15 minutes. It wasn’t a lot of rain, but everyone in the state is grateful for any moisture we get this year.

We arrived in Panguitch about 4 pm and set up camp at the Hitch-n-Post campground on Main Street. All the campgrounds were full, and we were lucky to get this site, since we only reserved it about 10 days ago. We had heard that most of the campgrounds were fully reserved by February.

It was a hot day, so we sat in the shade at camp for a while before walking downtown for dinner at Henrie’s drive-in. We ended the night walking up and down Main Street. There are a lot of people in town for the festival. Panguitch population is about 1800, and there were at least that many more people in town.

June 26, 2021

Each morning of the festival they have a mass ascension of the balloons from a grass field on the edge of town, starting at 6:30 am. We drove the 5 minutes to the field, but as we arrived, people were leaving. The weather was overcast, and we heard that the event was canceled. Either because of higher elevations winds, or possibility of rain. Or maybe both. 

Back at camp we ate breakfast, and then later we talked to our campground neighbor. They were from New Jersey and have been traveling full-time since last September. We have met a lot of young people that are full-time Rvers over the past several years.

Around 10 am we left from camp on the RZR. We drove a couple of miles down the highway and then on dirt roads to the mouth of Casto Canyon. We have rode up this canyon a couple of times, and it is one of the prettiest OHV trails in the state. It is very similar to the rock formations in Bryce Canyon.

At the top of the canyon we took the Fremont trail north across the mountain plateau. It was a beautiful ride through the mountain and we only saw 6-7 other riders the entire day. We descended from the mountains about 10 miles north of Panguitch and took the roads back to town.

After showering we walked back downtown to eat at the food booths and watch the Balloon Night Glow. It was an interesting sight when the balloon were inflated in the dark and the flames lit up the balloon. There was still some wind and a few of the balloon had trouble getting up.

June 27, 2021

The morning had crystal clear skies and the mass ascension went off as planned. We were able to walk between the balloons as the were all inflated and took off. We counted 35 balloon and it was a pretty site with the blue skies and green fields in the background.

After getting back to camp we packed up camp to leave town, but stopped to attend church at the Panguitch 2nd ward. It is fun to visit these small town churches, they are always happy to have visitors.

We drove about 1/2 hour to the forest outside of Bryce Canyon and found a nice secluded campsite in Dave’s Hollow, only about 2 miles from Bryce City. We parked the van and just relaxed at camp the rest of the day.

June 28-30, 2021

The next few days we camped in the forest and went for several long rides in the mountains and valleys surrounding Bryce Canyon. There are several small canyons that are very similar to Bryce Canyon, but without all the people. 

We also stopped at the famous Tropic spring, which is supposed to have the best tasting water around. 

On Tuesday night we drove into the Ruby’s Inn area for dinner and a country western music show. At our table we sat with a couple from San Franscico and another couple from Fort Worth, TX. It was a fun night. We rode the RZR back to camp in the dark, so Eva was a little cold.

Wednesday we rode to the east side of Bryce City to a couple of overlooks near the Tropic Ditch. This 10 mile ditch was dug by hand in 1882 to supply water across the plateau and down to the towns of Tropic and Cannonville.

After riding in the morning we parked at the shuttle lot and took the NPS shuttle into Bryce Canyon National Park. The shuttle took us up to Inspiration Point and we hiked down the Rim Trail to the Visitor’s Center. It was about 2 miles, but it was a hike we had not done before.

We took the shuttle from the Visitor’s Center back to the parking area. Just as we exited the bus, the rain started, but it was pretty light and stopped by the time we drove back to camp.

We spent the night at camp and plan to drive home tomorrow.

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