Our drive to Capitol Reef was only 98 miles from our Bryce National Park campground.
We arrived at Wonderland RV Park pleased to discover one of the prettiest settings we’ve run across in our 5 years as full-timers. Here is a view from our site (#12) and a glimpse of AireInn in site #12. Our joy increased when we spied a coffee shop right across the street.
Located in south-central Utah in the heart of red rock country, Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden treasure filled with cliffs, canyons, domes, and bridges in the Water pocket Fold, a geologic monocline (a wrinkle on the earth) extending almost 100 miles. ~ National Park Service
Although Capitol Reef was designated a National Monument in 1937 by President Roosevelt, it wasn’t until 1971 that President Nixon signed the public law designating it a National Park.
Our first hike was on the Hickman Bridge trail. It led us past fields of purple cacti and orange wildflowers on a steady upward trek until we reached the large arch named the Hickman Bridge.
While we cooled under its colossal canopy, I fancied the hiking shoes of a woman standing with me. Jolene and her husband, Jean-Paul Perles were fascinated by the Southwest part of the United States because Europe has no wide-open spaces that compare to this unique part of the world.
It’s crazy how shoe envy in a random place can create a lasting friendship! We lingered with this charming couple, enjoying their travel stories. Who knows…we may meet up with them when we travel to Europe next summer!
The next day we tackled a strenuous hike up to Rim Overlook – Navajo Knobs. I almost quit halfway up, but John – The Great Encourager helped me reach the top and celebrate the achievement and fantastic vista. The benefit of arduous uphill hikes is that coming down is easy!
Another serendipitous meetup
One evening we met up with our RV’ing friend Kathi and her traveling companion for dinner. You may recognize her name from the post I wrote about our biking accident last year. I never would have guessed that our RV lifestyle would interweave meetups with so many fellow RV nomads in such random locations!
A crazy coincidence happened during our stay in Torrey, Utah. John volunteered to drive to the liquor store and get me a bottle of Chardonnay.
Mind you, finding wine in the state of Utah is like searching for that elusive Chapstick at the bottom of your full backpack. He had to drive almost 20 miles to the next town and they only had two labels to choose from! (Yes, this state is full of non-drinking Mormons.) As he was heading back, he noticed a man wearing a large backpack with snowshoes strapped on the outside. It was Larry Boy! Yes, Larry had trekked about 98 miles since we met him the week before.
Talk about a cool surprise!
John immediately pulled over, Larry hopped in and they headed to the local burger joint to catch up on Larry’s latest trek from Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef area.
A bad weather system was rolling into our area making the high country impassable for Larry Boy. John volunteered to shuttle him 60 miles north. The car ride afforded both John and Larry Boy to connect in deep conversation.
It’s funny how a simple errand to the wine store opens the door to a grace-filled adventure. As I always say, I’ve lost all faith in coincidences. Oh, and by the way, John did remember to bring home my Chardonnay!
switchbacking to surprises
We managed several other day hikes around Capitol Reef but saved our best dog-friendly hike for last. Per Larry Boy’s suggestion, our final hike required an adventurous thirty-five-mile drive deep into the bowels of Capitol Reef. Halfway to our trailhead Burr Trail Road switchbacks straight up the canyon wall reminding me of San Francisco’s famous Lombard Street. Penny peers 1500 feet down into the Waterpocket Fold from our summit.
A few miles later we finally turned the Jeep onto a three-mile meandering creek bed named Upper Muley Twist Canyon. We couldn’t resist these natural rock climbing walls along our route.
It’s difficult to describe the beauty we passed. Deep orange uplifted sandstone sculpted by millions of years of erosion graced this narrow canyon. We passed numerous large arches as we approached the “parking area” to begin our two-mile hike.
Luckily cairns marked the areas to follow across the rolling smooth sandstone.
The abrupt end of this trail led us to an expansive vista overlooking the one-hundred-mile long Water Pocket Fold.
I wondered how our next National Park could exceed this beauty, but you’ll see that I was proven wrong once again!