Since moving to Colorado 4 years ago I've always been intrigued by our neighboring state of Utah's vast desert playground. There's only one thing, I've still yet to go, until this past weekend.
Let me start by saying there was absolutely no planning involved with this trip, none. I knew I had to use some vacation time before I would lose it and Steve just wanted to get out of the vail valley for a few days. That was the extent of our planning and in the end we had a great trip and some new experiences. As I had mentioned, I'd never been to Utah, other than driving through it to Climb Rainier last year. After talking to the NP Rangers over the phone at Arches and Canyonlands we found out just how damn busy it would be, (this was 2 days before we were driving out) so we decided to go to Capitol Reef National Park instead. We wanted to experience the backcountry and not see hoards of people and in the end we achieved what we were looking for.
My buddy Steve woke up to 3 inches of fresh snow in Eagle on Friday morning, then proceeded to get me up. We both looked at each other and said "Lets go to the desert and get the hell out of here". We arrived in Capitol Reef on Friday mid-day and proceeded to chat up the Ranger on duty about our backpacking possibilities. After about 20 minutes we had our free backcountry permit and were off to the TH. Friday afternoon we hiked into our first camping area, Spring Canyon. The views were amazing and the hiking was pretty simple. We made it a few miles into the canyon and decided on a spot set up camp at a junction to a side canyon. We dropped packs and started to explore further down spring canyon and then again down the side canyon. We hiked around for another couple of hours then came back to the tent to set up camp and cook some food. We finished off the night with some SoCo and quotes from "The Hangover" and went to bed. We woke up the next morning to a chilly 20something outside and our feet felt like ice cubes. We got moving, broke camp and headed out. We made it back to the truck and toured around a bit seeing some petroglyphs and other historic sites before we headed to our next hiking area. We decided to take a side hike and see the Hickman Bridge. It was a nice hike to see a pretty decent size arch or bridge or whatever you want to call it. After that we made our way to the next TH and got ready to hike again.
The next round of hiking started us up a steep trail with some decent exposure on one side. You are pretty far away from the hairy stuff but you could venture over to check it out. We continued to hike and came to the Cassidy Arch, named for Butch Cassidy who supposedly had a hideout in the area. After seeing the arch we continued on to our campsite for the second night. We had amazing views in all directions and enjoyed the remaining sunlight as we set up camp. We watched the final sunset of Winter and toasted yet another few rounds of SoCo and went to bed. We woke the next morning just in time to enjoy the first sunrise of Spring. After getting some pictures and eating some breakfast we broke camp and started the hike out. We were out around 9:30 in the morning and started the drive home.
This trip was amazing and we both had a great time. For the entire two and a half days we were there we saw less than 50 people and much less than that in the backcountry. If anyone is looking for solitude then this is one of those spots you could really have it. Capitol Reef NP was a great first experience to the Utah desert region and hopefully I'll be able to hit up some other places in the future. Thanks for reading.
At the TH
Views west from the canyon
Spring canyon entrance
Steve with a perspective shot inside the canyon
My best attempt at Ansel Adams
a little SoCo
a little SoCo for myself
steve coming up
view from camp 2
final sunset of winter
first sunrise of spring
The 9am Finale, SoCo shots around with the Cassidy Arch in the distance
Bye Bye Capitol Reef, it was fun.