A Night off the Ground

And so it begins…to Aspen

Bear Necessities

Leaving Aspen…Good Riddance

Moving Along

No Such Thing as a Dead Horse

Feeling at home in Arches National Park

Entering the Fiery Furnace

After leaving Arches, we headed to Capitol Reef National Park. Capitol Reef is definitely one of the less visited parks—I’d never heard of it before starting to research this trip, and I suspect many of you haven’t either.

Capitol Reef was an odd park. There’s beautiful landscapes—the park is based on something called the Waterpocket Fold which caused most of its unusual features. But there’s also large amounts of Mormon history and historical buildings.

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On our drive from Arches to Capitol Reef, we were trying to get a handle on what to expect, and we just couldn’t. This park took a little getting used to. At first I thought maybe it had too much of an identity crisis…but in retrospect, much like this blog Winking smile Capitol Reef was interesting and amazing because of all the different things it had to offer.

The park was free to enter, and in fact the only time one needed to pay was on the Scenic Drive. Our National Parks pass covered it, but it was definitely a good deal. We made a few stops and looked at various sights, natural and historical, went to the visitor’s center, and drove on the scenic drive. There was a gravel road Louie wanted to check out, but it looked like it was going to storm and I made him agree to wait until the next day.

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The area looked like it had been strip mined in places, but this was all natural. Very crazy to look at, and different from the other parts of Utah we’d seen. It had certain similarities of course(it looked more like Canyonlands that Missouri does…), and especially to Colorado National Monument, but had its own feel.

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I’d reserved a small cabin for the night in the border town of Torrey. The campground in the park was non-reservation, and while it turned out it wasn’t full, we were happy to have beds for the night! Before leaving the park for the evening we bought a homemade fruit pie at the historic Gifford House. That was definitely a weird thing, that there are orchards (started by the Mormon settlements) in the National Park AND that there was handmade pie for sale. We figured we’d go out to dinner and eat it afterwards.

We checked into the cabin at Torrey Trading Post. Torrey is a very small town just a few miles out of Capitol Reef. The cabin was around the side of a small store, post office, and a few private residences. We had to share bathrooms with the other few cabins (2 or 3 others) but as there were the nicest bathrooms we’d seen in awhile, it was no hardship! We took showers (ahhhh) and did laundry at a small laundromat across the street, while relaxing. There was a TELEVISION in the cabin, and Louie and I were able to watch some of the Olympics while looking at things on the internet through wi-fi. You really start to love amenities when you’ve been camping awhile!

After the laundry was done we went to Café Diablo for dinner. It was highly recommended by guidebooks and Trip Advisor and we definitely enjoyed it. The Rattlesnake cakes seemed to be the thing to order for an appetizer, and we both got various fish entrees. The chef seemed to be a really creative guy, to the point of being a little ridiculous, but it was a fun meal and we enjoyed it.

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Our view from the table wasn’t too bad either.

After dinner we relaxed and shared the pie—strawberry rhubarb. Unfortunately the rhubarb wasn’t as well cooked as it should have been, but otherwise it was an excellent pie. The cabin had a little picnic table and we hung out outside for a bit and tried to angle properly to watch the sunset. It was kind of funny because there were kids who seemed to live there (it was a family owned business) running around and adults moving vehicles and yelling at each other, and there we were, on our vacation.

I slept GREAT. Sleeping in a bed was amazing.

The next morning we had a bit of a snafu. Louie had noticed that the doorknob to the cabin was a little funny, but when he returned from the bathroom first thing in the morning, we realized I was stuck in the cabin and he was stuck outside. We were having a conversation through the open window about what to do when the owner’s son heard us and called out his window did we need help. Why yes, or at least a screwdriver. After a bit of finagling (and Louie climbing IN the window to help take the door knob off) we got the door open. We were checking out soon, so we didn’t get a new knob at that time. The man was very apologetic, and we did understand. After all, we were well used to disasters! It was pretty ridiculous though, I felt. Here we were, NOT camping on the ground subject to the elements and wildlife and still managed to have a snafu.

After that excitement we headed for breakfast at the Capitol Reef Café. This was a super cute place and also advertised rooms for pretty cheap. All of Torrey was very cute, and we’d stay there again—people were friendly, and it was a VERY small town. I wouldn’t want to live there, but I would spend a few more nights on vacation happily. There was just something about the town that we both really liked—it was small, friendly, and a bit cheesy and touristy but in a totally fun way.

After a good breakfast with potatoes and veggies and eggs, it was time to hike. We started with the Chimney Rock Trail, a 3.6 mile round trip hike. The trailhead was fairly empty, except while we were getting ready at least two or three other groups were too. Meaning, all of us were leaving for the hike at the exact same time, which was sort of annoying. We managed to separate out eventually, and had a great time—the best part of seeing the parks has ALWAYS been getting on the trail.

Small soapbox: I’m a huge National Parks lover, as you can tell. But people say, oh, I don’t like all the crowds, I prefer to go to {insert place} and that means more to me. Well, of course you are entitled to your opinion—differences in opinion are important! But, if you think National Parks are simply crowded, just pick a hike rated “strenuous” or even “medium” or, that is more than 1 to 2 miles long, and you’ll get every inch of solitude you wanted, I promise! Especially at a less popular park, but even at the popular ones, like Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain, you get a lot of solitude on the trail. (Grand Canyon, I’m sure it’s only true off the main trails, but it’s still well worth doing, because there is a reason those trails are so popular.)

But I digress. The Chimney Rock trail was fantastic.

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I realized this was a piece of petrified wood! Wood that has turned to rock. Don’t ask me to explain how, but you can google it Winking smile

After that hike we went and hiked on the Grand Wash Trail. This was at the end of the gravel/dirt road I’d mentioned earlier. The sun was coming out and it was getting hot by this time.

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We probably added another 4 miles on that hike. I didn’t enjoy it as much—I think I don’t drink enough water when it’s hot and sunny. In any case, after the hike we had some lunch out of the cooler (I believe hummus and pita chips and fruit, we did that a lot, or peanut butter sandwiches, or bagels for lunch) AND we splurged and got another pie. This one was mixed berry and we also got ice cream and coffee to go with it.

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We enjoyed our food outside the Gifford House and relaxed.

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And on that note, I’m going to leave off here. Our next stop would be a campground in Escalante-Petrified Forest State Park, en route to Bryce Canyon. I’m not going to lie, I wished we were staying in the cabin another night, and I wished I’d made a slower itinerary…but looking back, it’s really amazing all the stuff we saw, all the places we went, and what we were capable of! Does that sound crazy?

(And next vacation we are spending like 3 days minimum at each place…Winking smile  and I suppose I should stop complaining about something that I brought upon us myself!)

Nights Camping: 8

Miles Hiked (estimate): 55

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