After a short visit in Escalante, we headed north on Hwy 12 to Hwy 24 east to Capitol Reef National Park. .
We had hoped to stay in the national park. Guess what? Yes, the park’s only campground was full. Due to Covid-19, it has become very difficult to find places to camp. There are commercial campgrounds and motels in nearby towns of Torrey, Caineville, and Hanksville. Federal lands are located adjacent to the park. We found a lovely spot off Notom Road. It was quiet, free, and offered a great view. There were only two other campers, one in a tent by the Pleasant Creek and the other in an Airstream about fifty yards away from us.
Below is another view taken from Notom Road. You need to zoom in to see the two campers. The tent camper was down below us in the trees by the stream.
We got settled and headed for the National Park.
“Capital Reef National Park features towering cliffs, massive domes, arches, bridges, and twisting canyons. Over many years, geological forces shaped the earth, creating this rugged, remote area known as the Waterpocket Fold (a barrier of rock that obstructed early travelers like a barrier reef). Erosion creates waterpockets and potholes that collect rainwater and snowmelt, enhancing a rich ecosystem that is found here.”
There are several hikes to choose from that are rated as easy, moderate, or strenuous. There is also an eight-mile scenic drive throughout the park. If you don’t like the to hike or enjoy the hot daytime sun, the Scenic Drive offers breathtaking views along the way. We started out on the road and immediately picked up two female hitchhikers. They wanted a ride to the Grand Wash, and insisted in riding in the bed of the truck as opposed to the back seat. We parked in the lot and took a short .3 mile walk on Cassidy Arch Trail.
It would be nice to come back someday and finish this 3.4 mile round-trip hike. We got back in the truck and continued on Scenic Drive to the end of the paved road. Beyond this point is specifically for foot hikers and 4WD vehicles. We turned around and on the way back stopped at Petroglyph Panel, which is wheelchair accessible. We were able to see some of the ancient drawings from many years ago. Unfortunately, there was new “graffiti” added, too.
Although we were leaving for Moab the next morning, we stopped in the park again to hike Hickman Bridge Trailhead. It was a short hike but well worth the views.
Next stop, Arches National Park!