My City Girl Utah Camping Vacation

by Myra
(Las Vegas, NV)

I’m a bonafide city girl so camping trip was not high on my list of vacation ideas. I live in Las Vegas and I love having access to late night dining and entertainment. City life is all I’ve ever known.

So when a friend unexpectedly invited me to join her for a long weekend of camping and canoeing I was a little hesitant. She was heading out the very next day to her favorite camping spot, Panguitch Lake, Utah.

I thought "Me camping in Utah? No way!" But then, on a whim, I accepted her invitation. I decided to take a chance on the great outdoors. I had no idea what to expect or what to pack because my camping experience was based on what I’ve seen on TV. I called friends and did some internet research.

By the next day I managed to beg, borrow, or steal an assortment of camping equipment from friends and coworkers. I even had fun buying and packing food like trail mix and s’mores.

After work we packed ourselves into an SUV with an attached trailer filled with a canoe, a couple of kayaks and several life vests. Thank god she knew what she was doing.

Panguitch Lake is way out there in the wilderness of Dixie National Forest. The drive from Las Vegas took over 5 hours, but the scenery in August was lovely. We started out in the desert and gradually climbed up to pine forests.

We arrived late in the evening and faced having to set up our tents and eating our meals in the dark. Kind of scary but it was also fun. I was tackling something new and that was exciting for me; getting out of my comfort zone.

Even though it was still summer it was a bit cold at such a high elevation. Sleeping was a bit of a challenge since I was sharing a tent and I’m used to sleeping alone. I was using a borrowed sleeping bag, it was cold, and on top of that we had set up our tent on a slope so our heads rested lower than our feet.

So, after an hour of shifting and shivering I bundled up my bag and jacket and crawled into the back of the SUV where I fell asleep for a few hours. Not the best way to start my new camping in Utah experience.

But I woke up in the morning determined to enjoy myself. My friend and I took an early morning walk in the forest around the campsite. It was such a pleasure to walk in the dawn light and watch it gradually get brighter and brighter as the day arrived. It was very tranquil. Quite the opposite from the frantic city life I’m used to. Once the sun was up the birds started to chirp and squirrel activity increased. The forest was coming to life. We then had a hot and hearty breakfast cooked over a campfire. This trip was definitely beginning to improve.

We spent the next three days just relaxing and enjoying the wonderful outdoors. We gathered firewood, hiked, enjoyed the scenery, watched birds and insects, and played games around the picnic table.

We could see Panguitch Lake from the campsite and it was about a 15 minute walk to the water. We went down to the lake several times and took her canoe out on the water. Again, this was my first time with canoeing and it was a bit intimidating. But my friend is very experienced so I put myself in her hands. It turned out to be lots of fun.

She had also brought fishing poles so we spent some time fishing in the streams (another first for me!) that fed into the lake. I didn’t catch anything but my friend caught several fish. She said they were trout. There’s a fish cleaning station at the campgrounds and she took the fish there to get them ready to cook and eat. I wanted no part of that and stayed at our campsite. But I did enjoy eating them!

In the evenings we built a nice campfire and relaxed. We talked a lot and grew a lot closer from the experience. So that was really nice. As vacation ideas go, camping in Utah turned out to be pretty good. I discovered that what they say about getting out in nature is actually true. It was good for me in spite of my being a die-hard city girl.

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