Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The First Timer's Visit to Utah's 5 National Parks, Day 6: Finding the Magic in Capitol Reef National Park

Day 6:  Finding the Magic in Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef Park Trip Planner has up to date info on everything from hours, trails, map, and fees.
Island in the Sky Hiking Options

We had breakfast at our B&B.  We were able to see the sunrise from our window so there was no need to rush out for sunrise photos.  I was too tired anyway and sunrises were not that great while we were there.  However, the early light really does light up the red rock beautifully. 


SCENIC DRIVE 1 After breakfast make your way to Scenic Drive (a dirt road off Route 24) and enjoy the magic of the enormity of the rock features in the colors of early morning.  Scenic Drive is accessed via Campground Road at the Visitor Center on the right approaching from Torrey on Route 24. We did not see signage.  Get on Campground Road and it becomes Scenic Drive. 


Scenic Drive*


Cassidy Arch Trail*

HIKE 1 At the end of the road you can choose to hike the Capital Gorge Trail (4.5 mi RT), the trailhead is at the end of the road. This is where you will find the Pioneer Register and petroglyphs. You can also pick up the Golden Throne Trail (3.5mi RT) here.  We turned around and made our way back to Grand Wash on the right.  Drive all the way in to the Trailhead for Cassidy Arch.  Park where you can. This hike is rated difficult but I would rate it moderate.  It begins with rock steps but soon levels out to paths over large smooth rock faces. I definitely liked this hike.  Once there, be sure to view the arch from the front as well.  I missed that photo op. 

Hiking Cassidy Arch*
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Cassidy Arch*

Cassidy Arch, My husband on top* 

If you feel the need for a pie at Gifford Homestead in Fruita now is a good time as you will pass it on your way back up Scenic Drive. I think it is over rated and personally would skip it and just have lunch/snacks.  But if you love pie, go for it. 

HIKE 2. Hickman's Bridge (Popular hike, 1.7 mi RT) We did not do this hike, but I rearranged this schedule to how I should have done it and it fits in here if you would like to do it.  Another option is to hike to The Narrows from Route 24 access to the Grand Wash Trailhead.  Most guides tie this in with Cassidy Arch for a long hike which works if that is what you want.  Since I wanted to see as much as possible in the time permitted, I separated The Narrows hike to shorten total hiking time.  We ran out of time anyway but I believe the reworking of the schedule as I did on Day 5 and 6 makes this work.  The Narrows section of this hike is about 1/2 mile long once you get to it in just over 1 mi hiking from Route 24.

SCENIC DRIVE 2 Driving through Capitol Reef via Route 24 is pretty magical in itself.  Just enjoy the views. You will drive this tomorrow so don't feel compelled to do it today. 

LESS CROWDED SCENIC DRIVE: Cathedral Valley - rugged, remote, high clearance vehicle needed. Allow 3 1/2 - 4 hrs for a 57.5 mile loop.




Dinner (Call ahead to reserve.)  
One night we ate at La Cueva at the recommendation of guests at the B&B.  It was very good.  
The other night we ate at the Rim Rock Restaurant. It was very good except for Cowboy Cut Ribeye which was pretty tough to chew and not that tasty.  My husband had the sirloin for $12 less and it was much better. The side dishes were all fresh and good.  


Climbing Around at Sunset Point*

Sunset at Sunset Point or any place where the sun will light the west facing cliffs as it sets.

HOTEL We stayed at Sky Ridge Inn again.

  • Most of the locations on this trip are also International Dark Sky Parks: Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, Capitol Reef NP, Dead Horse Point State Park, Goblin Valley State Park, Kodachrome Basin State Park, and Zion NP.  My trip also coincided with a full moon so I had to time photography before the moon came up. 
  • *I packed light.  My Canon 24-105L lens stopped communicating with my Canon 5D Mark IV so most of my photos were taken with a Sony Point and Shoot.  I was soooo disappointed. But lesson learned. Never pack light! 

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MAPS








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