Capitol Reef National Park
After leaving Canyonlands and spending the night in Hanksville, we arrived early in Capitol Reef.
It's located right in the middle of southern Utah. Most of this area is covered by National or State Parks.
The drive in is just stunning.
Up ahead, in the not too far distance, the rock formations looked like a hillside castle.
That could be a really cool hike, but it sure is pretty high up.
So different from the terrain we're used to (FL) or even where we grew up (OH and CT).
We spent the first week of our vacation in Wyoming, visiting Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. Both were fabulous! We saw lots of wildlife too, so compared to Wyoming, Utah has almost no roaming critters. We did occasionally see a stray. No roadrunners though.
Our first stop for today. This is a slightly hilly, well pretty steep right in the beginning, very scenic 2 mile hike with a couple of surprises along the way.
Let's get started!
It's a gorgeous day - perfect for hiking! Don't forget, Capitol Reef is already at about a 5000 foot elevation, so this trail could seem more difficult. There is really no shade either, so bring water.
Lots of lovely flowers along the way and the trail is well marked.
This huge dome is fascinating!
What do they see that I don't see?
Oh, our first surprise!
A mini bridge. It appears to be falling! Oh NO!!!!
Keep holding it! I NEED just one more picture.
After determining that it was sturdy, they decided to cross it. Look out lady below!!!
Just beyond the bridge, was a very cool little basin like area that was fun to explore.
Camera vs phone.
Abby thought she could climb out. Nice Try.
Onward to the Arch. The small natural bridge is at the right of this image. All of this is open for exploring beneath these huge rocks. This area is so cool!
In a few places the trail was less obvious, so we looked for cairns, rock stacks left for hikers to follow to help them reach their destination.
Food For Thought.......North American trail markers are sometimes called ducks because they often have a beak pointing in the direction of the trail. The expression "two rocks do not make a duck" reminds hikers that just one rock resting upon another could be the result of an accident or nature rather than an intentional trail marker.
No Worries. Capitol Reef reminds me of Zion and seems small in comparison and especially compared to Canyonlands. All of the Utah parks are enormous.
How lost could we get? Does anyone else see a face on the rock? And even some messy hair too.
These were interesting.....interesting enough to take a picture.
We must be getting close. I remembered reading about this loop. Most hikers recommend going right first and so does the sign.
Just a few more steps and the arch was in sight.
Hickman Bridge stretches about 130 feet over the Freemont River below, but I don't recall seeing any water when we were there in June.
Just before you reach the base of the bridge, there are some large rock slabs. Unfortunately they've been vandalized.
We saw a sign at the beginning of the trail. Now we know why the fine is so steep.
It's almost like being back at Arches again. It's spectacular. This is the most famous and most visited area of the park. We expected the trail to be crowded, but it was not. We only saw a few people along the way.
The trail leads right under the bridge and around to the other side.
While I was standing in front of the arch waiting to take a people-free photo, something amazing happened. A young couple was standing in front of me, in between the bridge and me, actually I was waiting for them to leave, and then he got down on one knee, and.......I couldn't get my phone turned on and recording fast enough, but I did manage to get some of the proposal.
I told them I recorded most of it and they were very grateful. I emailed it to them plus posted on youtube, so hopefully they found it and are in the process of living happily ever after!
My phone picture looks almost the same as my camera image. Why do I lug around all this heavy gear?Oh yea.....to get all those extra pixels just in case I need them - definitely not for blogging.
The hike back was just as scenic. We noticed some things we hadn't noticed on the way.
Like this resting rock.
I hope it stays put just a little while longer so my kids can play under it.
We haven't seen rocks like this anywhere but here.
This is kind of unique too, but we have seen other formations like this in other parks, but still pretty cool.
We had to stop back by the small natural bridge one more time.
When they pop up in the little holes, it reminded me of the game Whack A Mole.
Where's my mallet when I need it?
These are fun....
....and very yellow!
I did not remember seeing this on the way, but I like it now.
Glad we did this hike - fun, scenic, full of surprises!
I believe this is right across the street from the parking lot, but I'm looking at these pictures 10 months after this trip, so I'm not 100%.
Looks like an amphitheater behind a fruit orchard.
After the hike, it was time to start looking for lunch. We were surprised at how hard this actually was. I had written down several options for us, but most of them were closed.
We did find this cute little schoolhouse.
It was built in 1896.
It was used as a school until 1941.
I gave the windows a spit shine so I could get a nice image of the inside.
The date on the chalkboard is 1937. Did we have wire wastebaskets in 1937?
It was also used as a church by the Mormon settlers.
I just couldn't quite get the right angle, so I asked Al to shoot since he is taller. His job was to make sure that I was blocking all the reflection. Well we see how that turned out, since my face is in the schoolhouse:)
We finally found some lunch - just outside of the town of Torrey on Rt 24, about 1/2 mile from Capitol Reef Resort, La Cueva Restaurante Mexicano. It is connected to a gas station, convenient store, gift shop....... There was only one other seated table while we were there. We ordered our food and shortly after, a maintenance worker came in with a can of wood stain and a brush - YUCK - so we had to smell the strong odor of stain while we ate. The doors were open but that brought different issues. Other workers were smoking outside, so it was a double whammy!
After lunch, we had a much anticipated and very exciting adventure. Click the image below to follow along.
What a terrific hike. The llamas did not disappoint!
We did a little more exploring later in the afternoon. After walking around the town of Torrey for a bit, we drove east to a Panorama Point, right along Rt 24.
This was actually a great place to explore. Walking out onto this huge rock plateau made us feel like we were on top of the world looking down into the valleys below. There were crevasses to cross and edges to lean over. You could see for miles and miles.
They even found a natural bench for a brief rest - like they need it!
Another natural chair! I thought this place was for hiking, not resting.
This is the view looking northeast toward Mummy Cliff and Navajo Point.
From Panorama Point, a narrow dirt road takes you a couple of miles up to another scenic lookout, Goosenecks.
This was an awesome lookout also!
We explored around this area for a little while, taking in all the sights and really enjoying the massiveness of the area.
I don't think there were real trails here, We just roamed wherever looked interesting.
We took a bunch of pictures, like we always do, but I'll just share a few since this page is getting rather long!
Loved these big rocks.
It was time to head back to our sleepover for tonight. As always in Utah, the drive was pretty scenic.
All of these shots are just drive-by's.
If we stopped every time we saw something we liked, we would never get where we were going.
We saw these twin rocks from quite a distance.....
....and were surprised to learn that they had a name.
Meanwhile back at Capital Reef Resort, a lot of clouds were rolling in and a storm was in the forecast. We wanted to hike Cassidy Arch, named after Butch Cassidy because it was his hangout during his robbery days in Utah, but hiking in rain and lightning is no fun. Bank robbers liked the rocky areas because they left no footprints.
WELCOME TO CAPITOL REEF RESORT
Even though we were here earlier for the llama hike, we didn't look around. We knew we'd be back.
They offer several different types of accommodations - Fun!
It's huge inside!
Even covered wagons!
We got settled in and took a walk around the property. We weren't out for too long when we heard the roar of distant thunder. Eventually bolts of lightning were lighting up the sky. No one seemed to notice or mind, except us. People were in the pool, in the hot tubs, sitting around a fire pit......We were at the fire pit, meeting people from all over the country and telling about our different experiences on this journey. Some were headed to Wyoming, where we just came from, while others were on their way to the Arizona and the Grand Canyon.
When the lightning got too close, we announced that we had to get indoors. Lightning never bothered us too much living in Ohio, but since moving to Florida, near Tampa, the lightning capital of the world, we felt differently. We hear on the news about people being struck all summer long, our wet and stormy season, and our hockey team is called the Tampa Bay Lightning - the Bolts for short!
Good Night Capitol Reef!