Saturday, May 19, 2012

Capitol Reef National Park

We stayed just ahead of the storm driving the scenic route from Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef. We arrived at the Red Sands Hotel just As the rain started to really fall.

We checked in and checked out the wine and cheese reception (a box of Franzia and some cheese cubes, but it's the thought that counts.) The hotel is locally owned and everyone here is happy to provide anything you might need from recommendations to reservations.

We were directed to the Red Rock Restaurant for dinner. You'll need reservations but can make them same day. I had a delicious grilled trout while J had the BBQ Ribs - both were excellent. H slept quietly in his car seat long enough for us to enjoy the homemade ice cream sandwich for desert. By the time we were done with dinner the rain had passed and dusted the surrounding mountains with snow. We headed back to our hotel for an early bed time.

We were up bright an early this morning to head over to the General Store in Torrey. The place was full of locals getting their morning coffee and chatting about life in Torrey. We picked up sandwiches - which they happily packed for hiking (wet ingredients in a separate bags) and headed in Capitol Reef National Park.

A quick stop at the ranger station to see the introduction video, which was unfortunately broken, but we spent the time chatting with the whole team of rangers about our plan for the day. From the rangers station we drove all the way down the scenic drive to Capitol Gorge where a maintained dirt road takes you to a trail head. We loaded H into the Ergo and hiked less than a mile into the gorge to see the registry - a list of names carved into the walls of all the travelers that passed through. After the quick hike back we headed back down the scenic drive, taking a quick detour into the Grand Wash.

In the Fruita Historic District there is a beautiful picnic area complete with grazing deer. We spent an hour or two enjoying our lunch and walking around the historic district. This place has an amazing camp ground nestled in the fruit trees. If you are here at a different time of year you can actually pick fruit right from the trees - unfortunately nothing was ready today. The Gifford Farm house sells delicious looking fruit pies and other treats (come early because they do sell out) and crafts. There is also a small (two rooms) farm house you can walk through. We took a small river walk down the Fremont River and found some animal tracks and more orchards.

Back on the park road we took the right fork (we came from Torrey to the left) passing by the old school house (open seasonally), more petroglyphs  and finally a one mile hike to Hickman Bridge, a natural bridge you can walk under. A warning - the trail guide rates it "medium" - the hike is quite steep the whole way. We made it to the bridge but the whole family was getting hot so we made a quick retreat to get out of the sun. We did make one final stop at Panorama Point to survey all we had done - then H had a colossal poop that sent us back to the hotel for bath time.

Tomorrow we get an early start and head to Arches National Park!

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