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Paragonah to Yankee Meadows

St. George Jeepers Trail Ride-July 5, 2016

Paragonah to Red Creek Reservoir to Panguitch Lake to Yankee Meadows

Our ride today was a welcome break from the 100 degree plus temperatures being enjoyed in the St. George area. The 12 vehicles traveled north on I-15 from St. George to exit 82 in Paragonah, Utah, where we left the Interstate onto East Center Street. From this point we left the blacktop and journeyed up Red Creek Road. As soon as we left the pavement we were treated to some very nice scenery. Today's run was led by Ron Bryce.

Some vegetation along the way. The red blossom is paintbrush, the whitish blossom is lupine, the large-leafed plant is mule's ear and the grayish shrub is big sagebrush.

The mule's ear wasn't in blossom at this elevation. Below is a photo of the plant in blossom.

Traveling on up the mountain trail we passed this sego lily.

The scientific name is Calochortus nuttallii, with the common name sego lily. It's a bulbous perennial which is endemic, or widespread, to the Western United States. The plant is native to a number of Western states including Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.

The plants are around 6–18 inches in height and have linear leaves. They have 1 to 4 flowers, each with 3 white petals (and 3 sepals) which are tinged with lilac (occasionally magenta) and have a purplish band radiating from the yellow base. A yellow petaled form with deep purple bands is known from Petrified Forest National Park. The plant blooms in early summer, with flowers that can be up to 3 inches across. This plant is taxonomically referred to as being 3 merous. This is the number of component parts in each whorl of a plant structure. It is most commonly used in the context of flowers, in which case it refers to the number of sepals in the calyx, the number of petals in the corolla, and the number of stamens in each whorl of the androecium. The term may also be used to refer to the number of leaves in leaf whorls. The androecium is the stamens (male, or pollen-producing parts) of the flower, collectively. This is all important in identifying the genus and species of any plant.

Nuttallii is a species within the genus Calochortus, in a sub-group generally referred to as Mariposa Lilies. The specific epithet nuttallii, named for the English botanist and zoologist, Thomas Nuttall, was ascribed to the species by the American botanists John Torrey and Asa Gray when it was officially described in 1857. (Two adjacent 14,000-foot plus peaks in Colorado were named after these botanists.)

Native Americans had culinary uses for the bulbs, seeds, and flowers of the plant. Bulbs were roasted, boiled, or made into a porridge by the Hopi, Havasupai, Navajo, Paiute, Goshute, and Ute peoples. The Hopi used the yellow flower ceremonially.

They taught the Mormon pioneer immigrants to use the bulb for badly needed food. By an act of the Utah State Legislature, approved on March 18, 1911, the sego lily was declared to be the state floral emblem.

Kate C. Snow, president of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, in a letter dated April 17, 1930, said that "between 1840 and 1851" food became very scarce in Utah due to a crop-devouring plague of crickets, and that "the families were put on rations, and during this time they learned and were taught to dig for and to eat the soft, bulbous root of the sego lily. The memory of this use, quite as much as the natural beauty of the flower, caused it to be selected after years by the Legislature as the floral emblem of the State.

Red Creek, also known as Paragonah Reservoir, pit stop.

This moderate-size reservoir has literally turned into a rainbow trout fish factory. Most irrigation-storage reservoirs have to be stocked with hatchery trout in order to maintain a sport fishery. In order to reproduce, rainbow trout require clear, cold running water most often found in mountain streams and rivers. Irrigation diversions and other demands for water limit such habitat and separate such areas from most reservoirs. But Red Creek Reservoir, (sometimes called Paragonah Reservoir) is an exception and keeps kicking out wild rainbows year after year.

Red Creek is the primary water source for the reservoir. It flows high and cold during the spring of the year offering perfect spawning conditions for rainbow trout. Trout from the reservoir migrate into the stream in April and May to spawn. After the spawning season, stream flows diminish and the water starts to warm, but not before the trout eggs hatch and the young fry prosper. As summer progresses, stream flows continue to decrease, and by late fall the stream is so small that it supports few resident trout. The decreasing flows, however, nudge the recently hatched trout downstream, with flows being sufficient to allow many of the small fish time to work back into the reservoir. From this vista we drove on up Red Creek Road.

Lupines seen along the trail. There are numerous species and colors of lupines.

Below, two different colored lupine species with a true "bug", Hemiptera, pollinating. Most of us are familiar with box elder bugs and cicadas, which are also true bugs.

As we gain elevation, the tree species change. We passed aspen, Ponderosa pines, (right); Douglas fir and White fir; Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir.

As we proceeded to higher elevations we encountered what is known as the Spruce-Fir type. We reached elevations of over 10,000 feet today. Spruce-fir is the fourth most common coniferous forest type in Utah, and is generally found at higher elevations. It occurs as stands of Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) mixed with subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) and in association with Douglas fir, white fir, and aspen, as well as various pines. The great majority of spruce found in Utah is Engelmann spruce. Spruce is an important timber species, valued for its clear, straight grain. Spruce is also used for house logs. A massive spruce beetle epidemic currently is devastating much of Utah’s spruce forest, as well as most of Western United States and Canada.

Elevation and aspect play a significant role in the ecology of Utah forests, mainly through their effect on water availability. Generally, if enough water is available in the soil, trees will be found. The most productive evergreen or coniferous forests grow in upper elevation basins and mountain slopes, and favor northern to eastern aspects. High elevation means more precipitation and cooler temperatures, both good for trees. Lower elevation valley bottoms, on the other hand, have lower precipitation and water is available only near streams, so they tend to have no forests except for cottonwoods, willows and introduced invaders such as tamarisk near those streams. Mid-elevation foothills get slightly increased precipitation and tend to have woodlands of drought-tolerant trees like pinyons, junipers, oaks, and maples. Often these woodlands are thickest or are only present on more northern and eastern aspects. South and west aspects are the hottest and driest and often won’t have any trees.

Other factors that determine where forests and woodlands are found and how well they do include temperature, soils, grazing/browsing, aggressive weeds, and fire.

Mule deer spike horn buck

Entering Horse Valley on Horse Valley Road

Old "Virginia Rail" style fence. This type fence was often constructed on landscapes where it was difficult or impossible to dig fence post holes and wood was plentiful.

Old abandoned cabin in Horse Valley

The broad, lush, verdant expanse of Horse Valley

Horse Valley is summer home of many hundreds of grazing sheep, a sight not that often seen in the West anymore.

Traveling on, we pass through quaking, or trembling aspen stands.

Our lunch stop was on an overlook of Panguitch Lake.

Enjoying lunch in the 70's temperatures are, left to right; Eric (Chuck's grandson), Chuck Jenkins, Debbie Andrews, Andy Andrews, Leo Wingrove, Barry Bishop, Karen Bishop and Dee Wingrove.

More Jeepers enjoying lunch and camaraderie.

We were treated to a spectacular view of the Ipson Creek Falls, some 80 feet drop, on Ipson Creek.

Our next destination was Panguitch Lake.

Panguitch Lake is situated at an elevation of 8,212 feet approximately 18 miles southwest of Panguitch, Utah. It covers 1,234 surface acres, holds 40,100 acre-feet of water, and has a maximum depth of 66 feet. The lake is the source of Panguitch Creek and is fed by three small inlet streams: Blue Springs Creek, Clear Creek, and Ipson Creek. Panguitch Lake is one of southern Utah's most popular and productive fisheries.

Panguitch Lake has historically been one of the most important sport fisheries in southern Utah. It has long maintained a reputation as one of the best trout producers in the state. The fishery has not been without problems, however. Competition between Utah chubs and stocked trout has been a chronic problem at the lake, with the trout fishery suffering when chub numbers are high. To address the chub problem, a new management plan was developed during 2005. The intent of the new plan was to maintain the family-type fishery that Panguitch Lake was famous for, yet implement actions that would address the problem of chubs in the future. (Source: Utah DNR)

Panguitch Lake, at its current elevation, is flanked by lush meadows of grasses, reeds and wildflowers. The area is a popular summer home location with some spectacular residences.

Entering Clear Creek Canyon Road

Across the fence is the Clear Creek Ranch and a view of an idyllic, peaceful valley.

View from about 10,000 feet elevation looking down at Yankee Meadows below the redrock cliffs.

Yankee Meadows

Barry Bishop enjoying the break and the view.

On the trail to Yankee Meadows.

Yankee Meadows Reservoir

Yankee Meadow is a popular 53-acre lake located east of Parowan, Utah. The lake is stocked annually with rainbow trout, brook trout, and Bonneville cutthroat trout. Although the different species of trout in the reservoir tend to respond to different techniques, and will vary in their catchability with the seasons, this is one spot where you realistically have a chance of catching all three species.

The lake is generally not accessible during the winter, except by snowmobile. About the time the lake become accessible in April, the ice is starting to come off and it's a good time to try for one of the nicer brook trout that the lake produces. Both the rainbow trout and cutthroat trout are hungry after a long winter so you don't know what you might catch. Later in the year, during midsummer, rainbow trout predominate the catch, especially if you're using bait. If you want to increase your chances to catch a cutthroat trout, try casting a spinner or try fly fishing. In the fall, the area is popular with deer hunters as well as fishermen. There's some good fall fishing so bring your fishing rod along on the hunt.

The Division of Wildlife has constructed a spawning channel on the inlet to the reservoir to increase the natural recruitment of wild trout to the reservoir. This inlet channel is closed to fishing until the second Saturday in July. Other than that restriction, the general statewide regulations apply with a limit of four trout. There is a conservation pool at the lake, so even during drought years, Yankee Meadow produces some good fishing. There is an abundance of forage in the lake, including snails, leeches, aquatic insects and plankton, so all three trout species are generally fat and scrappy and make for a good meal. (Utah DNR)

Jeeps passing this very scenic reservoir and surroundings.

Second Left Hand Canyon, with some impressive redrock geology and scenery.

"Arrowhead" Rock

Center Creek

Arrow locating mountain lion sculpture.

This carved boulder was about 12 feet high.

From here it was a short distance to SR 143, air-up and home. Thanks to Ron Bryce for an excellent job!

Submitted by Bud Sanders

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