Capitol Reef National Park

Monday, May 14

Monday morning I break camp and head east on Hwy 12. Today’s drive will take me about 70 miles to a BLM dispersed camping area on Hwy 12 a mile west of the Capitol Reef National Park boundary. Hwy 12 crosses Boulder Mountain, reaching an elevation of 9,606ft at the pass. I enjoyed the cool temperature going over the mountain. 

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Along Hwy 12 on Boulder Mountain UT

Around 11am I arrive at the BLM dispersed camping area. It isn’t much more than a parking area for easy access to Capitol Reef – nothing to write home about 🙂 I found a somewhat private site in the smaller section to the right.

After leveling and unhitching, I drive east seven miles to the Fruita Historic Town Site where the visitors center, campgrounds, and historic buildings are located. The developed area of the park is relatively small. There is the Scenic Drive that goes south from the visitors center about 10 miles, then a few sites along Hwy 12. The remote southern end of the park can also be accessed along the unpaved Notom Road. This road is pretty washboardy I am told. It goes down to meet the Burr Trail Road that I drove when I was in Escalante.

Leaving the visitors center, I drive the Scenic Drive, which goes south along the Waterpocket Fold.

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This wall had gorgeous pink colors

Towards the end, the road goes through a pretty canyon that is shaped like an S-curve.

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The road ends at a wash in Capitol Gorge, where there is a one mile trail up the wash that passes a petroglyph panel.

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Nature’s rock garden…

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I love the way these rocks are arranged, as if someone had intentionally placed them!

There are flowers blooming here and there.

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Beautiful color and pattern in the sandstone

The last .2 of a mile the trail goes up to some water tanks.

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After the hike, I drive back to camp.  I hadn’t had lunch yet and didn’t bring anything with me to eat. So I was famished!

Tuesday, May 15

Today I am hiking the Hickman Bridge and Navajo Knobs trails. Hickman Bridge is one of the most popular hikes, so it’s a good idea to get to the parking area early AM before it fills. It is about two miles round trip, with 400ft of elevation gain to Hickman Bridge. About .3 mile along the trail there is a junction. Left goes to Hickman Bridge, right to Navajo Knobs. First, I take the left trail towards Hickman Bridge. The trail leads about .7 mile further up a wash to the bridge. The bridge is quite large at 133 feet long and 125 feet tall. The trail makes a loop under the bridge and around to the left.

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Hickman Bridge

I return to the junction and take the trail to Navajo Knobs. From the junction, it is 4.4 miles to the top of Navajo Knobs, with 1,825ft of elevation gain and 365ft loss. So today I will have hiked nearly 11 miles, with about 2,600ft of elevation gain! This is the most I’ve done in quite a while. Of course, the highest elevation was only 6,886ft. When I get to Colorado, those mountains are still going to kick my butt LOL!

The trail winds in and out following along several fingers of this wall. Not far along, there is another view of Hickman Bridge.

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Overlook of Hickman Bridge

Along the trail…

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Looking down on Fruita

The trail ahead follows along the slanted escarpment and around.

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There are a few cacti in bloom

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Looking up at the scramble to the top of the knobs…

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Just a short scramble to the top

On the top…

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Hey, I made it!

This photo looking south clearly shows the tilting of the Waterpocket Fold formations compared to the Henry Mountains in the background.

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Looking south along the Waterpocket Fold

I had originally planned to stay here until Thursday morning. Instead, I have decided to leave Wednesday morning and go on to Moab. I need a real grocery store and a laundromat. Plus I want to get into a campsite before everything is filled up with the Memorial Day holiday coming. The next two weekends are the busiest of the year for Moab. Plus, this area where I am camped is not very pleasant. So in the morning, I’ll be heading out to make the roughly 140 mile drive to Moab.

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