Most people have never heard of Capitol Reef National Park in Utah. That’s just one reason I wanted to stop there for a few days on my way to Canyonlands National Park. I found both complete isolation and the popular Scenic Road. Both were worth the journey. Oh yes, it was also a stomping ground for one of America’s most famous outlaws.
After some formalities, my visit started in earnest with a drive through a large part of the Waterpocket Fold to my trailhead. This is a 100-mile long geological feature. While the pictures below will give you an idea of what it looks like on the inside, I never visited a place that would give me an overlook of it; for that, you can check out this Wikipedia page. You might be surprised that there is a place on earth that looks like it.
The park is very long but skinny. Even though it is surrounded by additional park-like lands, there aren’t very many hiking trails in the area. I started with a two-day backpacking trip along Halls Creek through Halls Creek Narrows, which was the only “real” backpacking trail in the park. OK, I’m game. Of course at this time of the year, the “creek” was really just a wash, but oh what a fascinating wash! Have you ever walked in a stream without the water? It was fun to see the different types of mud and to analyze the rocks and sand to distinguish the deep and shallow areas of the creek and where the water flows under different conditions. It would be interesting to return in the spring and see how accurate my analysis was. And as always in red rock country, the rocks were endlessly fascinating. It was two days of wonder and even intellectual challenge.
Note the debris at the bottom of the tree on the left above. What is is? On the right, you can see that it was a single tree. I would see more of these. How high was the water? How fast was it flowing? How long will the dead tree keep hanging on before it is forced downstream? Then what?
I’m not opposed to civilization. Really I’m not. It provided me the gravel road to the trailhead, the trail down from there to the wash and even the signs and the confidence to know that the route was doable. Now I make it my friend to spend a partial day along the plebian Scenic Drive. That’s OK with me (for a while). Here is a small sample of what it holds.
Totals for Capitol Reef: 2½ days, 34 miles
Next destination: Canyonlands National Park