Capitol Reef National Park.
The drive from Zion to Capitol Reef was spectacular. Many mountains and beautiful vistas made for a great driving day. You can see pictures from our 2015 drive and park visit here.
Capitol Reef is called the Waterpocket Fold. That is clear, right? We went to the visitors’ center first to try to find out exactly what a Waterpocket Fold is and how it is formed. We watched the movie, read the exhibits, and left more confused that when we arrived. It didn't help that many of the diagrams were inconsistent and the verbal and written explanations were particularly vague.
At some point, we decided to not worry with the "hows" and just enjoy the beauty this park has to offer. We drove the Scenic road in silence, awed by the magnitude of the colorful cliffs above.
Two years ago we hiked Capitol Gorge but were prevented from finishing because of a wet river bed. This year it was all dry and we were able to go to the end of the trail.
We decide to try the 1 mile hike to the waterpockets. It was nice and flat and we enjoyed the walk.
There was an area of the trail where you could see petroglyphs on the canyon walls.
There were signs pointing these out and information for viewing these treasured relics.
There was also a warning for modern artists who might be hiking these canyons.
Interesting what a few centuries can do to the value of art.
On a side note, we chuckled as we overheard a young girl (about seven years old) explain to her parents that for $300 she could write on the rocks.
Once we got to the waterpocket turnoff, we were supposed to go uphill. Somehow, we missed a turn and ended up climbing over rocks looking for water that was nowhere to be found - not hard to do in a desert. Trey was searching one area, while Susan was searching another. If you look closely, you can see Trey in the center of the picture below.
We were hungry. We were tired. It was a lot of climbing. But the views were great!
Eventually we found the waterholes (pockets).
We probably went twice as high and twice as far on our own trail, but it was fun trying to figure it all out. On the way back, we found our error. Part of it was our fault for not looking all directions, and part of it was a simple lack of markings combined with footprints everywhere!
Tired and hungry, we hiked the mile back to the scooter and headed for a late lunch.
Some friends arrived later that evening and we got a chance to visit a little bit before it was time to retire.
Scenic Highway 12
While here, we also drove Scenic Highway 12. We talked about doing this drive two years ago, but didn't have the time and the weather didn't cooperate. This year, it was our main reason for coming this way.
After a brief parking lot gathering with our friends here, we made plans to meet for dinner, then we took off for our drive south (they went to explore the north part of the National Park). It was a chilly morning so we layered up and brought a few extra things just in case.
We got up to 9,600 feet in elevation pretty quickly. Although it wasn't freezing, there was still snow on the ground.
There was a mixture of Aspen, Pine, and Fir trees all around us.
From that vantage point we had a pretty good look at the southern end of Capitol Reef National Park. This was also a part of the Escalante Grand Staircase. If we had a panorama of this scene, you could see several "steps" of this staircase. In this shot you can see just two.
We originally intended to take a side route, Burr Trail Road, to see more of the Waterpocket fold in the park, but a little research revealed it would add almost three hours to our trip, so we abandoned that idea. At one of the overlooks we met another RVer who told us we needed to go at least 12 miles down Burr Road to see a cool canyon. We decided twelve miles wouldn't delay us too much. The first few miles were interesting; it reminded us a bit of the east side of Zion NP.
Then, about mile 10 or 11, we entered a beautiful canyon.
The photographs we took from the scooter cannot do justice to the size and colors we saw. It was an amazing ride! The canyon was about 6 miles long and the camera shutter never rested.
At the end of the canyon, we came out to another beautiful vista.
We drove down into the valley for a little bit and got a shot of the canyon exit from below.
We then had the privilege to backtrack and see it all again from the other direction. So glad we didn't miss this little detour!
Back on Hwy 12, the scenery changed quickly. We saw pastures and farms.
One section was a backbone drive - kinda scary if you were in a large vehicle. There are steep dropoffs on either side of the road. The picture does not do it justice.
We looked down and saw a canyon with a very green valley.
We saw a 14% grade sign and the next thing you know, we are almost in that very valley!
We drove on to the town of Escalante, UT and ate a very late lunch (4 PM). The camera battery was dead and so was the back-up (always double-check!) so we don't have pictures from that point on. After lunch, we retraced our drive all the way back to Torrey. We were only 60 minutes later than our planned meeting time. Believe it or not, our friends were 65 minutes late so it all worked out quite well. We had a wonderful visit over dinner (we just ate dessert) and then went home to rest after a very long, but wonderful day!
Our friends left the following morning. We got a quick goodbye picture. (Trey is the photographer)
I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart;
I will tell of all Your marvelous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.