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Located in the Dixie National Forest of southwestern Utah, visitors of this beautiful state won't want to miss Panguitch Lake, along the Brian Head-Panguitch Lake Scenic Byway. Panguitch Lake (rhymes with sandwich) is a natural body of water, augmented by a dam, resulting in a reservoir. Flanked by aspens, spruce, and ponderosa pines, the lake is estimated to be 1,000 years old. With a very high elevation of 8,200 feet, Panguitch Lake is a popular recreational area offering year-round activities.
Panguitch Lake is fed by three tributary streams, Ipson Creek, Clear Creek and Blue Spring Creek, whose headwaters originate at the brink of the Markagunt Plateau, then flow south and east to Panguitch Lake. Panguitch Lake drains into Panguitch Creek, which joins the Sevier River near the small community of Panguitch. Construction of the dam, which occurred in phases between 1885 and 1975, changed the original depth of Panguitch Lake from 35 feet to 57 feet and the surface area from 777 acres to 1,248 acres. The dam was built to enable it to hold more water for irrigation. The West Panguitch Irrigation Company controls the water levels.
Panguitch Lake is known primarily as a fishing destination. In fact, the earliest known use of Panguitch Lake was as a fishery by Paiute Indians. Very appropriately, the name Panguitch means "big fish" in the Paiute language. The lake is famous for its plentiful trout. Anglers will find rainbow, brook, cutthroat, and brown trout thriving in its cool waters. In the winter, ice fishing is very popular on the lake. Panguitch Lake has a marina, where visitors can rent everything from small fishing boats to a full pontoon. There is also the option to rent boat slips and bring one's own craft. There are two public boat ramps and a fish cleaning station.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources restocked the lake in 2006 with 20,000 rainbow trout, after it was treated with rotenone to control the population of Utah chub. As a result, there are some special regulations: There is a four-trout limit and the trout must be less than 15 inches or over 22 inches. Anglers must release all trout that are between 15 to 22 inches long. Trout caught cannot be filleted or have the head or tail removed while at the lake.
Other activities around the lake include mountain biking on the nearby trails, hiking, ATV riding, horseback riding or even taking an aerial tour of the area. Wildlife watching is a popular pastime as well; deer and elk can usually be seen in the early morning hours or late afternoons. Only a short drive away, visitors can enjoy Bryce Canyon National Park, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Cedar Breaks National Monument and Zion National Park. In the winter, visitors will enjoy snowmobiling, snowshoeing or cross-country and downhill skiing nearby. For overnighters, there are resorts around the lake as well as cabins for rent. For campers, Panguitch Lake has extensive camping facilities run by the US Forest Service, see links below.
Panguitch Lake is also a destination of those looking for permanent or part-time residence. In recent years there have been a significant number of summer homes built in the area by local residents and people from neighboring states. Visitors will find cabins, condos, homes, and lots for sale around the Panguitch Lake area.
As for getting there, Panguitch Lake is going to be a drive no matter how you cut it. The closest airport is in Las Vegas, which is a four hour drive, while Salt Lake City is a four and half hour drive away. For many though, the destinations that are hard to get to are the best ones to visit. Visitors aren't completely "roughing it" at Panguitch Lake, as there are a couple of convenience stores within walking distance of the campgrounds, and the roads are well paved and maintained.
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