Capitol Reef National Park offered Andrew and I a variety of different adventures for the eleven days we stayed. Our first adventure began with finding a campsite in Fruita campground. Fruita is a smaller campground that is known for filling up before noon. We arrived around 11:00am and parked in one of the last spots available. It is a nice campground surrounded by fruit orchards and red rock formations. Located next the camp is Gifford House, a small shop, which makes tasty pies and cinnamon rolls.
Once settled into our campsite, we laid out our plan for the week, starting with a drive along the 4wd road, Cathedral Valley Loop. The loop begins near the east exit of the park. This road take us across a river, along several bentonite hills, down the valley by massive formations and above the canyon for a few beautiful scenic overlooks. While this drive took us several hours, I would highly recommend it (however, avoid it when weather is rolling in). We met a couple that was stuck up there overnight because rain, mud and bentonite clay do not make for a fun drive.
After a day of riding, Andrew and I decided to hike Grand Wash. This 4.5 mile trail follows an old riverbed at the bottom of the canyons. With more sun exposure than we anticipated, we were happy to complete this trail before lunch. In the afternoon, we drove the 12 mile scenic drive down to Capitol Gorge. Along the way, Andrew found another 4wd road, South Draw. With my lack of enthusiasm for driving on rough roads and cliff-sides, we agreed I would stay home and he and Ame explored it.
Wanting to try some more hiking, we just headed across the road from the campground to Cohab Canyon trail. This 3.5 mile trail starts with a steep incline that leads back to trail along the canyon floor. Andrew did a little off-trail loop and spider-crawled down a slot canyon to get back on-trail! We both agreed that this trail offered a better look at the formation with less sun exposure than Grand Wash. On a different day, we woke up early and hiked the Hickman bridge trail to see natural bridge. However, our favorite hike would be the Rim Overlook, which starts on the Hickman Bridge trail. Soon it veers off the right and along the tops of several formations. The best part is the view of Fruita, the orchards and several other trails from the overlook.
Along with exploring the national park, we had a few experience outside the park. One day we followed US-12 through the Dixie National Forest and into Grand Staircase-Escalante. Andrew found us a phenomenal drive on Hell’s Backbone Road. At one point, we even stopped to read the sign for Box Death Hollow trail, which indicated that hikers would have to swim to access trail and might experience hypothermia (even in the summer months). We agreed that the hike sounded a little too intense for us. However, we enjoyed the view down into the canyon from Hell’s Backbone Bridge.
To break up our eleven days of adventures, we made a weekend trip into Grand Junction, Colorado to visit family. It is always great to balance adventure and exploration, we a little bit of family time …and BBQ!