Scenic Byway 143 – Utah’s Patchwork Parkway

Details

  • DesignationNational Scenic Byway (2009)
  • Intrinsic QualitiesHistoric
  • LocationUT
  • Length51 miles
Byway Visitor Information
Scenic Byway 143 Committee/Iron County Office of Tourism
Statewide Byway Partners
Utah Byways Map
Utah Office of Tourism
Hoodoos can be seen on the north side of the road in Vermillion Cliffs area of the Brian Head-Panguitch Scenic Byway.
A. E. Crane Photo

Overview

Utah’s Patchwork Parkway for today’s travelers begin their trek in historic communities where examples of early Mormon pioneer settlement and culture abound. The communities of Parowan and Panguitch contain a large concentration of 19th-century architecture and historic sites. The original Panguitch townsite is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These two town sites were previously home to ancient native peoples who left behind an abundance of petroglyphs, pictographs, and more. Additional evidence indicates that these early inhabitants followed ancient migration routes into the high elevation expanses capped by Cedar Breaks National Monument, where vistas extend for hundreds of miles.

Local Byway Partners

Story of the Byway

Scenic Byway 143 – Utah’s Patchwork Parkway serves as the western gateway from the arid Great Basin of Western Utah to a breathtaking route across Utah’s high plateaus, connecting to Heritage Highway 89 and Scenic Byway 12, Utah’s first All-American Road. Historic pioneer communities “bookmark” each end of the route, once traveled by ancient inhabitants to hunt, fish, and gather tools and food.

Early settlers desperate for food once crossed the plateau in midwinter using handmade quilts laid atop deep snow to reach settlements to the west. Such quilts are reminders of the patchwork of the byway’s unparalleled scenery, vibrant history, and natural beauty unequaled across the country.

Today, Travelers of Utah’s Patchwork Parkway begin their trek in historic communities where examples of early Mormon pioneer settlement and culture abound. The communities of Parowan and Panguitch contain a large concentration of 19th-century architecture and historic sites. The entire original Panguitch townsite is listed on the National register of Historic Places. These two town sites were previously home to ancient native peoples who left behind and abundance of petroglyphs, pictographs, and more. Additional evidence indicates that these early inhabitants followed ancient migration routes into the high elevation expanses capped by Cedar Breaks National Monument, where vistas extend for hundred of miles. The high elevation landscape is home to Brian Head, Utah’s highest elevation community and southernmost ski area, as well as other year-round resorts.

Very few routes in the U.S. exhibit a 4,500-foot elevation change that crosses six major life zones in 51 miles. The route skirts lava flow only a few thousand years old before passing Panguitch Lake, a spectacular, large mountain lake renowned for its excellent fishing. This topmost rise of the geological “Grand Staircase” showcases the 2,000-foot-deep Cedar Breaks amphitheater with its vibrant hues of pink, orange, red, and other coral colors carved from the Claron Formation. The plateau provides views that extend for hundreds of miles and are home to some of the darkest night skies in the country.

Driving Directions

Begin your drive of Utah's Patchwork Parkway (SR 143) at Interstate 15 Exit 75 in Parowan. Proceed east. After leaving Parowan, the route enters Parowan Canyon and climbs 4,400 feet in less than 10 miles. Continue on SR 143 past Brian Head, Utah’s highest elevation community and southernmost ski resort, located at the top of the canyon. Enter Cedar Breaks National Monument. Follow SR-143 eastward across 12 miles of high alpine meadows known as “Little Ireland.” Continue past Panguitch Lake. Descend 18 miles through South Canyon in the Dixie National Forest. The byway ends in Panguitch City at the junction with US 89.

Points of Interest

  • Bryce Canyon National Park

    Hoodoos (irregular columns of rock) exist on every continent, but here is the largest concentration found anywhere on Earth. Situated along a high plateau at the top of the Grand Staircase, the park's high elevations include numerous life communities, fantastic dark skies, and geological wonders that defy description.

  • Cedar Breaks National Park

    Crowning the grand staircase, Cedar Breaks sits at over 10,000 feet and looks down into a half-mile deep geologic amphitheater. Come wander among timeless bristlecone pines, stand in lush meadows of wildflower, ponder crystal-clear night skies and experience the richness of our subalpine forest.

  • Panguitch Lake

    Panguitch Lake is located in south central Utah and sits at an elevation of 8,400 feet. The word “Panguitch” comes from the local Native American indians and means “Big Fish”.

  • Parowan Gap Petroglyphs

    Several centuries ago Native Americans traveling through the area stopped and pecked designs onto the smooth faces of large boulders found on the east side of the gap. Over the years many of the boulders have been covered with these chiseled figures known as petroglyphs.

  • Zion National Park

    Follow the paths where ancient native people and pioneers walked. Gaze up at massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red that soar into a brilliant blue sky. Experience wilderness in a narrow slot canyon. Zion’s unique array of plants and animals will enchant you as you absorb the rich history of the past and enjoy the excitement of present day adventures.

  • Dixie National Forest

    At 2 million acres, it is the largest national forest in Utah.

Itinerary

  • Parowan to Panguitch

    Starting in Parowan, stop by a bakery and load up before heading out on the byway. Follow UT-143 S for 15 miles to Cedar Breaks National Monument. Wander through the pines, meadows and wildflowers of the subalpine forest, and view the half-mile deep geologic amphitheater. Head east on UT-143 S for 7 miles to arrive at Dixie National Forest. Stop for lunch in Cedar City, then select from a range of hikes surrounding the town. Continue east on the route for another 7 miles, arriving at Panguitch Lake. Spend the remainder of your day lounging lakeside or enjoying more recreation. Camp overnight for an early morning fishing excursion, or return to the byway.

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