Scenic Byway 143 follows a 55 mile course between Panguitch and Parowan, Utah, and connects Intestate-15 to Highway 89. This throughway follows the historic migration route used by the ancient Anasazi and is nicknamed Utah’s Patchwork Parkway. In 1864 pioneers were forced to walk on quilts to avoid sinking into the deep early winter snow as they crossed the mountains to Parowan, to obtain much needed flour to save their settlement from starvation. The now famous Quilt Walk is an annual celebration and is the impetus behind the name Utah’s Patchwork Parkway.
With Parowan at 6,000 feet elevation on the west, and Panguitch at 6,500 feet elevation on the east, the scenery changes dramatically on the byway which rises to heights of over 10,000 feet. The byway weaves through a patchwork of diverse landscape and is a fairly short drive, but there many places where you want to stop, shoot photographs, and experience the views, or side trails.
Just off I-15, the town of Parowan was settled by Mormon pioneers in 1851. Ancient Native Americans left rock art symbols in the 600-foot Parowan Gap, which is nationally recognized for its petroglyphs. From Parowan you’ll work your way up the mountain and past Hidden Haven on your way to Brian Head town which is the home of Brian Ski and Summer Resort. You may wish to venture onto the spur road to Yankee Meadow Reservoir which is accessible in warmer months. Brian Head is the highest community in Utah at 9,800 feet elevation and is a haven for winter recreation. At 11,307 feet in elevation, Brian Head Peak is the highest spot on the Markagunt Plateau, offering 100 miles views in all directions. From Brian Head peak you can see the plateaus that are home to Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park.
As you pass across the Markagunt Plateau the Dixie National Forest and surrounding wide open spaces will unfold before you. In spring and summer the meadows are covered in beautiful wildflowers. On the western edge of the plateau is spectacular Cedar Breaks National Monument, which is a 2,000-foot deep canyon filled with hoodoos and rock formations that are similar to those found at Bryce Canyon. Moving along Scenic Byway 143 you come across Panguitch Lake which is surrounded by thousand-year-old lava flows. The word Panguitch means “big fish” in the Paiute Native American language, and fisherman come from far and wide to ply their skills on Panguitch Lake.
At the base of the eastern slope of the Markagunt Plateau Panguitch, Utah is a quaint and historic town just waiting to be explored. Take a walking tour of the historic red brick homes, visit the Pioneer Museum and Quilt Walk Park. There are a dozen lodging options and three campgrounds in Panguitch, along with plenty of dining and shopping options.