Is Panguitch Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On July 2, 2024
Panguitch, United States
Safety Index:
78
* Based on Research & Crime Data

Panguitch, Utah, is a small town that means “Big Fish” that stands as an Old West gateway to some of the American West’s most iconic landscapes.

Established in 1864, Panguitch’s roots are deeply intertwined with the pioneer spirit, reflected in its well-preserved historic district and the vibrant community that celebrates its heritage through events and local traditions.

However, the town’s “Big Fish” name goes back centuries to the Paiute who lived off the land.

Petroglyphs and other artifacts by Indigenous people can be found throughout the public lands nearby.

Visitors to Panguitch are often captivated by the town’s authentic Western ambiance, backed by crisp mountain air and expansive blue skies.

Panguitch’s elevation of 6,700 feet provides a refreshing climate, making it an ideal destination for those looking to escape the heat of the lowlands.

The surrounding roads peak above 9,000 feet.

Cultural experiences in Panguitch are as varied as they are immersive, including a celebration of the pioneers who used quilts to walk through snow too deep to walk through.

Moreover, Panguitch’s strategic location makes it a convenient base for exploring the natural wonders of Southern Utah.

Its serene environment, rich history, and welcoming locals combine to offer a uniquely enriching travel experience, making Panguitch a hidden gem in the vast Utah landscape.

Warnings & Dangers in Panguitch

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK: LOW

The risk is low here, at least from a crime perspective. Extensive planning is required to avert safety concerns in the wilderness areas while maximizing your time.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW

I should've known when I looked up transportation, and a tow truck company was on the first page of results that we weren't going to have a lot of options here. You'll need a rental car, preferably an all-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicle. It would be better if you could get a high-clearance vehicle for the many backroads waiting to be explored. Some tour businesses might offer bus tours in the surrounding communities as well.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW

This is a low risk as theft rates are extremely low. You should still leave valuables at home to be safe, but also to protect those items from the dirt, sand, and exposure issues of the desert landscape.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM

The biggest error people make is assuming that Utah's desert is always hot. This is one of the highest elevation areas of Southern Utah, and snow can pile up in the winter through early spring. Snow storms can create blinding conditions and impassible roads. Spring brings extreme winds, which are dangerous for hiking and driving at times. Summer monsoons can drop a lot of rain in a short time, leading to flash flooding in canyons. These turn deadly way too often because people aren't paying attention to the forecast or the risk. This is a medium risk, especially since it's hard to get emergency weather information in remote areas.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK: LOW

This is another low risk, as crime isn't a problem here. Most robberies that have happened in the past decade involve businesses, but even those are few and far between.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK: LOW

Terrorism isn't a concern here, as the area is so remote and rugged that very little damage or impact could be made on a large population. Of course, you can never fully let your guard down in America, so report any suspicious activity to the local police.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK: LOW

Check local law enforcement social media sites for the latest scams. The Garfield County Sheriff's Office website has a section dedicated to scam hotlines, identity theft, and fraud. You might find stores along the way with gems, minerals, or artifacts that are for sale and think the price is a scam. It's worth mentioning that it's illegal to take anything, even a bag of sand, from public lands in America. Don't think that stores are selling things you can get for free. Those businesses got a permit at some point to collect those items.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW

This is definitely not an area where a woman should go exploring alone, but of course, that goes for men, too. This area is too remote to risk getting lost, hurt, or stuck. If you're a mom traveling with kids, be sure to check the kid-friendly nature of any trail, as some have steep drops and dangerous turns.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK: LOW

The U.S. has strict standards for tap water per the Safe Water Drinking Act. Communities are required to provide a Water Quality Report (Consumer Confidence Report) once a year by July 1. The latest Water Quality Report for Panguitch shows no violations and full compliance. However, that doesn't include water sources found in nature. NEVER drink from a stream, lake or pooled water without treating it first. Better yet, bring enough clean water with you to get through the day. Dehydration can set in quickly in this arid climate. You also need electrolytes or salty snacks to replace lost minerals.

Safest Places to Visit in Panguitch

The Panguitch city website is the best resource for tourism information, as it offers information about the city’s business dealings and tourism.

Always check the map location of a suggested attraction, as “close” in this remote area of Utah can mean driving a couple of hours in any direction.

Downtown Panguitch is a collection of historic buildings, thrift shops, and antique stores, with a few restaurants and souvenir shops mixed in.

Historical markers with educational kiosks line the road, with nine stops along the way.

Quilt Walk Park is right at the corner of Main Street and Center Street, with a statue showing how the early settlers used quilts to walk over the deep snow in desperate search of food.

An annual Quilt Walk Festival honors this tradition.

You can walk… err… drive in the steps of those settlers by taking Scenic Byway 143.

While it’s the long way, it’s also about as scenic a route as you’ll find in Utah.

Just under 50 miles, this route goes through Brian Head, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Dixie National Forest, and Lake Panguitch.

Another must-see drive is the 122 miles of Scenic Byway 12, starting near Panguitch to Torrey, past Bryce Canyon, Grand Staircase Escalante, and Capitol Reef National Park.

You should know about the Hogback section, south of Boulder, Utah, which drops off sharply on both sides for a short distance. Some find it terrifying; others claim it’s amazing.

One of the worst-kept secrets in Utah is the Lower Creek Falls trail, near the Hogback, that leads to a 126-foot waterfall and a swimming hole.

The trail is about six miles out and back.

Don’t let the shorter length of the Upper Calf Creek Falls fool you – it’s a more strenuous hike with an uphill scramble required on the way back.

The waterfall is 87 feet high.

Back near Panguitch, ATV riding is a way of life, with hundreds of miles of trails to explore.

Several tour and rental companies are in town, and I recommend having a phone call with them before you arrive to start researching where you want to explore.

No matter what experience level you have, the experts at these companies can help you plan a trip that suits your skills and goals.

One of the closest natural attractions to Panguitch is Red Canyon, part of Dixie National Forest.

Free maps are available at the visitor center, and you can explore the stunning rock formations on horseback, ATV, or on foot.

I would also bookmark a place to see the night skies here, as the pristine celestial show is among the lowest light pollution you can find in America.

Bryce Canyon National Park is 25 miles from Panguitch, while Capitol Reef National Park is 120 miles away.

To put it in easy perspective, the bottom layers of Bryce Canyon are the same rock at the top of Zion.

Then, the bottom layers of Zion are the top layers of the Grand Canyon.

The bottom of the Grand Canyon holds some of the oldest bedrock on Earth.

One of the best places to see the geology of Utah without the crowds of Bryce Canyon or Zion is Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

The “staircase” is part of the geological erosion that extends from Bryce Canyon to the Grand Canyon.

Nearby, Dark Ranger Telescope Tours offers great star parties and special telescopes to get a close look at the galaxy.

Stargazing is best done during the new moon when the light from the moon won’t impact visibility.

If you’re driving from Salt Lake City, check out Butch Cassidy’s Childhood Home, about 25 miles north of Panguitch.

The site is a quick stop, but you can read information about his life and peek into the windows of the restored home.

Places to Avoid in Panguitch

There aren’t bad neighborhoods or dangerous parts of town here.

Most of the area is surrounded by public land, but you should never go on private property without permission from the landowners.

One thing to keep an eye on is the Panguitch Lake Dam.

In 2024, an emergency order was issued due to a possible breach of the dam, with the potential for the dam to break and send a wall of water downstream and into Panguitch.

The situation reached a Level 2 Emergency, which is one step before Level 3, which would’ve required an immediate evacuation of the town.

Should there be a dam breach in the future, locations immediately downstream of the dam and the area of Panguitch west of Main Street would be impacted.

This issue happened due to an ice sheet above the dam shifting and hitting the top of the dam, which caused a 60-foot crack.

Within days, crews had eliminated the worst-case scenario.

However, you can bet they’ll be keeping a close eye on the dam for years to come.

Many locations around Panguitch are said to be where Butch Cassidy and his gang hid between robberies.

Some of them are wild goose chases, and even if you find the location, you won’t see evidence of the Cassidy crew.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Panguitch

  1. Garfield County Sheriff’s Office provides law enforcement for Panguitch. It doesn’t look like they have a social media presence, but the main phone number is 435-676-2678 if you have specific questions to ask. You can follow @garfieldcountyutah on Facebook to get updates from the Sheriff.
  2. Sign up for the Garfield County Alert Sense program to get emergency alerts through the Garfield County website. This will cover severe weather, winter weather, and public safety threats throughout the county. The program is free, but it will only work if you have mobile service where you are located, which means you should have a backup way to get alerts if you are in remote areas.
  3. Download the National Park Service app, and then you’ll have access to Bryce Canyon National Park maps, alerts, and current conditions. Download the offline maps while you have a good internet connection. Don’t wait until you get to the park.
  4. If you’re visiting the backcountry while you’re here, you can purchase a Utah Search and Rescue Assistance Card. The fee for the card goes to help local communities get reimbursed for the cost of your rescue. The average backcountry search and rescue operation costs $2,000. While the card won’t mean you can get rescued and medically treated for free, it does mean the entities that pay for the rescue operation will be made whole afterward.
  5. Review the OHV rules and restrictions before you rent one, as there are specific safety guidelines you need to know. Since this area is so remote, you might not pass another person for hours. You can’t afford to risk “winging it” while riding in the Utah wilderness.
  6. Since there are several areas nearby that are above 8,000 feet, you should give yourself an easy first day visiting Utah to acclimate to the elevation. High altitude sickness can set in, causing shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, and extreme fatigue. Stay hydrated and rested while avoiding alcohol.
  7. Check with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality before visiting Lake Panguitch (or any other lake, for that matter). Especially in summer, the water can grow cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae or harmful algae. At high levels, these blooms can irritate the skin, cause health issues, and even lead to organ damage. The algae is especially harmful to pets and dogs have died within hours of being exposed to the algae.
  8. Winter weather can last into April here, and snow can sometimes fall up to two to three feet deep. Road crews will need time to clear the snow, starting with major interstates, then highways, and then backroads. At times, Bryce Canyon’s scenic drive can close until the snow is cleared. However, the park remains open.
  9. You also need to watch out for the downslope winds that come in spring. Winds can range from annoying to devastating, with the force of almost Category 1 hurricane winds. Driving can be nearly impossible, and blowing dust or snow can reduce visibility to zero.
  10. Poaching is illegal, and Utah takes it seriously. You can report any poaching activity to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Text 847411 from your mobile device, call the Division hotline at 800-662-3337 or use the UTDWR law enforcement app to report wildlife-related crimes. This includes fishing without a license, so be sure you have one if you plan to fish in any lake, river, or stream.

So... How Safe Is Panguitch Really?

Since law enforcement comes from the Garfield County Sheriff, we don’t have specific crime data for Panguitch.

However, what we do know about the crime statistics in Garfield County assures us that this is a safe place to visit.

Across the county, which includes the towns of Bryce Canyon City, Tickaboo, Escalante, and Boulder, there were six violent crimes in 2022 and three in 2021.

Property crimes averaged less than four a month.

One of the biggest (and only) headlines in Panguitch was about a woman who stomped on a “Back the Blue” sign during a traffic stop and was subsequently facing hate crime charges.

There will always be risks with exploring remote areas, whether it’s during a snowstorm, during spring runoff, in the summer heat, or in the fall.

Much of how safe it will be depends on how prepared you are for the environment and how well you heed warnings.

You should have a moderate level of outdoor and survival training to make the most of your time here.

How Does Panguitch Compare?

CitySafety Index
Panguitch78
Las Vegas62
San Francisco61
Philadelphia60
Houston59
Atlanta58
St. Louis58
Brussels (Belgium)60
Shanghai (China)66
Belize City (Belize)37
La Paz (Bolivia)52
Sao Paulo (Brazil)45
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)43

Useful Information

Visas

Visas

All international visitors need either a visa defining the purpose of the trip (tourist, work, school, etc.) or a visa waiver. Start the process using the Visa Wizard module on the U.S. State Department website. You’ll quickly find out which one you need. Also, keep in mind that your passport must be valid for at least six months after your trip, or you’ll need to apply for a new one.

Currency

Currency

Only the U.S. Dollar (USD) is accepted in the United States. International airports usually have a currency exchange desk on site, while regional airports won’t. Your home bank offers the lowest fees. For those using credit cards, check to see if there’s a foreign transaction fee before you start racking up charges. Arrive in Panguitch with the cash you want to carry, as there are limited options in this remote area.

Weather

Weather

At 6,600 feet, Panguitch escapes the worst of the summer heat but can still get into the 90s. The difference between daytime highs and lows can be substantial, meaning you should pack various layers of clothing to adapt. Winters will be cold and snowy, with about 45 inches each year. This area gets more snow than in places like St. George or Hurricane. You'll want sunscreen and hiking boots with good tread.

Airports

Airports

If you're driving to Salt Lake City International Airport, expect to spend about three and a half hours on the road. Cedar City Regional Airport (CDC) offers flights to Salt Lake City only through Delta. That's about an hour away. You can get to St. George Regional Airport (SGU) in about two hours.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

With the natural risks and remote stretches of roadway, it's important to get comprehensive travel insurance that covers every "What If?". If you are doing daring activities, like rock climbing or backpacking for multiple nights, consider getting travel adventure insurance, too.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Panguitch Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan -4° C
Feb -2° C
Mar 3° C
Apr 6° C
May 11° C
Jun 16° C
Jul 19° C
Aug 18° C
Sep 14° C
Oct 8° C
Nov 2° C
Dec -4° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
571216212830292518115
Low
°C
-13-10-6-414873-3-8-12
High
°F
414554617082868477645241
Low
°F
91421253439464537271810

Utah - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Bicknell81
Brigham City82
Bryce Canyon City82
Cedar City86
Green River83
Hurricane83
Kamas79
Kanab79
Layton81
Lehi74
Moab84
Ogden72
Orem82
Panguitch78
Park City78
Provo94
Salt Lake City55
Sandy93
St. George94
Vernal83
West Jordan94
West Valley City65

Where to Next?

Share Your Experience

Share
Facebook Pinterest