Sunday, September 21, 2014

Day 1 at Capitol Reef NP

Posted from Torrey, UT (Click on Pics to Enlarge)
To see more pictures related to this blog, click HERE.

Tuesday we moved south to Torrey, UT to visit Capitol Reef NP. This is one of the lesser visited NPs, but we have found it to have both beautiful rock formations and also an interesting history.
I apologize in advance for the lack of timeliness of my blogs, but the internet connectivity (at least using Verizon) is almost non-existent in the area of Torrey, UT.  We are currently staying at Thousand Lakes RV Park which is about 12 miles west of the visitor’s center.

Thousand Lakes is very nice with wide interior roads and easy access throughout. All sites are on crushed stone and room between sites is adequate.  This time of the year reservations would be a good idea.  We wanted to stay a bit longer, but we will be limited in the number of days available to us.  The views are pretty spectacular anywhere in this area.  Here’s our view to the north.

Looking across US24 to the south.
After a day of settling in, we headed toward the National Park on Wednesday.
The first stop we always make when visiting a National Park for the first time is the Visitor’s Center. Here we watched an 18 minute video on the formation of the geological aspects of the area, along with the settling of the Fruita area.  Fruita is home to many fruit orchards and was first settled by Mormons heading west.  It was interesting to learn that there was never more than 12 families in the settlement at one time.

As you leave the Visitor’s Center you can turn left and get back onto US24 to explore on your own, or turn right (as we did) and visit the Fruita Historic District (more on that tomorrow), go into the orchards and pick-your-own fruit, and then travel the Scenic Drive into the park.  The NP Campground is located in the area just prior to the entrance to the Scenic Drive.

We decided that today’s “touristy” mission was to drive the 8-10 mile Scenic Drive and possibly take a short hike or two. There are several pull outs along Scenic Drive which create many photo ops.

The Scenic Drive road is paved the entire length, but is a bit narrow in some areas.  We saw several Class C and even a Class A or two driving the road, but it is much easier in a regular passenger car or truck.  The first non-paved road we came upon was Grand Wash Road. It is 1.3 miles in length and serves as trailhead parking for a few trails.

We decided to only drive a short distance down the gravel road today as we wanted to see the rest of the Scenic Drive.  We did stop for a few moments to visit Oyler Mines.  You can only view the closed mines from outside.  I noticed a warning sign inside the mines about water contamination due to uranium mining from years gone by.

A few more pullouts and pictures before reaching the end of the Scenic Drive.

At pavement’s end of the Scenic Road begins a 2.4 mile non-paved road called the Capitol Gorge Road.  You can stop at this point and have a picnic, use a pit toilet, turn back onto the paved road, or continue onward.  You probably already know what we did.   First, ate lunch, then ventured forward.

We had already checked with the Visitor’s Center prior to attempting this road, so we knew that the Fit could handle it.

At the end of the driveable part of the Capitol Gorge Road we found the trailhead for the Capitol Gorge Trail.  This is a short (2.0 roundtrip) hike along the old path used by early travelers to the area.

To be honest, the hike seemed longer than 1 mile each way, but there are many interesting formations and things to see along the way. These little guys were everywhere, but seemed pretty used to visitors.

One pretty interesting area we came upon was called the Pioneer Register.  It was a form of “old time” graffiti and inscriptions  by travelers passing thru the narrow gorge in years gone by. (Incidentally, if you want to think about adding your own graffiti to the wall, the fine is $300 if caught).

The entire hike along Capitol Gorge Trail is relatively flat until you get to the end and want to visit an area called “the tanks”. This involves a climbing and scrambling over rocks of a distance of approximately .25 mile. “The Tanks” were natural depressions in the rocks which held water for travelers heading thru the area.

That was enough exploring for the first day.  This is a truly beautiful part of Utah.  We’re looking forward to more hiking and exploring in the coming days.

Thanks for stopping by to take a look!


  1. Great photos of a place we can't wait to visit this area, UT is one of our favorite states.

  2. Love revisiting Capitol Reef with you. I can't imagine a class A going down the Scenic Drive. Not for me for sure. We ran out of time and never did the Capitol Gorge Trail so I'm really happy to see your pictures of the Pioneer Register and the tanks. Looking forward to tomorrow. We really loved being in the campground in the park but we had zero phone or internet. Be sure to get some pie at the store. The peach was great.

    1. Sherry we're in a private CG west of Torrey and the Verizon signal is 1x out here. I'm posting these blogs late at night using the CG wi-fi when no one else seems to be on.

  3. Radioactive water! A few sips and you could glow in the dark! :c)

    Interesting graffiti, seems nothing is new...

    1. Actually the sign warns against being in the immediate vicinity of the mines for longer than a day.

  4. We, too, think that area is beautiful in its own way. Sorry we missed you at Park City. So Close! But I am sure we will see you somewhere on the road.

    1. Moab is our next stop for a few days longer than here.