Capitol Reef N.P., Utah: Entering the park from the north side.
I really enjoyed visiting Capitol Reef National Park. My first night I spent on the north end of the park in a free campground called Cathedral Campground. It is in the Cathedral Valley area of the park and as you can imagine by the name there are some interesting rock formations. The typical red Utah sandstone. I did some hiking on the north side hiking into the park from Lower South Desert Overlook. I hike for about 6 miles into the park through some beautiful scenery. The trail is not all that good but the scenery is awesome.
My next day I leave the north end and explore the central part of the park that most visitors see. I go for a short hike to Hickman Bridge which is a nice little arch and a great way to see a little bit of this part of the park.
Capitol Reef N.P., Utah: The view of Cathedral Valley.
Next I head over to the west side of the park and see the Goosnecks overlook which has a nice view of a deep winding canyon. I find a lunch (Subway Sandwiches) and a place to top off my gas tank just outside the park to the west. Next I go take a look at the trail that heads down into a deep cleft in Capitol Reef called the Grand Wash. It is an interesting route along a creekbed that narrows down to about 20 feet at the "Narrows" point with sheer walls going up hundreds of feet.
By now I have learned that a "trail"in Utah is really a route that you need to do a little route finding. It is a little more challenging to find your way through the landscape.
From the center of the park I head south along the road heading along the east side of the Waterpocket Fold (Capitol Reef) and find another free campground called Cedar Mesa.
Capitol Reef N.P., Utah: View of Cathedral Valley.
It is another nice little campground. There is a trail heading up toward the reef to the west of the campground which I take a morning hike on. It is called the Red Canyon Trail. The trail follows an old road then a drainage up into a red walled canyon. Well worth the hike if you stay in this campground. I head south along the east side of the Reef and go for another hike up into Surprise Canyon. It is a scramble up a dry creek canyon that leadss to a surprise where the canyon turns narrow and you have to scramble up over a big rock choking the canyon. A nice hike. I head up over the side of Capitol Reef, heading west, up an impressive set of switchbacks and then take a drive (4 wheel drive road) on the Upper Muley Twist Road which leads to a hiking trail to the very top of the Capitol Reef at Strike Valley Overlook.
Capitol Reef N.P., Utah: The view from Lower Desert Overlook.
It is a VERY awesome view and very inspiring. The road was fun to drive in my new truck with a little rock hopping out of the streambed along the way.
After this hike I head out of Capitol Reef National Park and head towards Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. I find a nice place to camp at Calf Creek Campground. It is a little crowded and a paved campground but it is part of life on the road.