adventure, hiking, national parks, travel, Utah

Capitol Reef National Park

This last weekend was Fall Break, which sounds as long and wonderful as Spring Break, but is really just a glorified three day weekend. However, I did not let these three days go to waste. Instead, I used it to travel to Torrey, Utah and visit Capitol Reef National Park with my husband and his family.

Despite living in Utah for the last two and some odd years, I’ve never visited Zion’s, Arches, or Capitol Reef National Parks to see the unique red rock features that Utah is famous for. Quite frankly, I had a private notion that such places were probably over-rated. I grew up in green Olympia, Washington and couldn’t see how such a “barren” place could possibly be beautiful. I was SO wrong. Capitol Reef was FANTASTIC. And BEAUTIFUL. And I was not ready to leave when Sunday rolled around.

Driving into Torrey on Thursday evening, I was immediately impressed by the distance rocky cliffs, and surprised to see that there was actually quite a bit of green vegetation speckling the landscape. We got two rooms at the Broken Spur Inn in Torrey. It was a fair motel with a large pool, small hot tub, a warm continental breakfast.

The real beauty awaited Friday morning when we drove into the park. The craggy rock faces were more vibrantly colored than I anticipated and contrasted brilliantly with the pale blue sky.

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The first hike we did was my very favorite of the whole trip. Sulphur Creek. The head of the trail is near the Chimney Rock trail head and ends behind the visitor’s center. The trail itself is around 6 miles long and follows Sulphur Creek most of the way. This trail requires lots of time wading in the water. At its deepest, it hit me just above my knees, but most of the time the water just swirled around my ankles. The trail features three small waterfalls that need to be climbed around. No special equipment is needed to climb rock faces, but there is some climbing.

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For four and a half hours, we walked this trail. It was beautiful. I had never been anywhere like it and enjoyed every second. We took our time, ate snacks along the way, and took LOTS of pictures.

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Other hikes we took during the weekend: Capitol Gorge, with its water filled “tanks,” petroglyphs, and pioneer registry; Cohab canyon, walking through a steep walled canyon with many narrow canyon offshoots to explore; Freemont River Trail, with meanders along the river and through deer-populated orchards before climbing a steep, rocky path for some fantastic panoramic views; Hickman Natural Bridge, a steep hike in which we were rewarded by a huge, stone, arching natural “bridge”; and the mini look out hikes Goosenecks and Sunset Point, which overlook Sulphur Creek (we enjoyed looking down on the hike we had done the day before from thousands of feet above) and offer some more beautiful panoramic views.

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All in all, Capitol Reef was much more than I was expecting. I could have stayed and hiked around for several more days, and definitely plan on going back.

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