We headed east and continued on Scenic Byway 12. Our destination was Torrey, jumping off point for Capitol Reef NP. We only needed to go about 100 miles, but it took us close to 3 hours. A very windy and hilly road. At one point we climbed to 9,400 feet and then had to come back down at 8-10% grades downhill. Not fun in the MoHo, but Mike did great. The views were absolutely fantastic. There was another spot called Hogsback where we were literally driving on a ridge with steep drop-offs on either side. Sitting up high, I could really feel it, but the vistas were amazing!
We arrived at Thousand Lakes RV Park (great location, setting and amenities!)and decided to just take it easy for the day and get the lay of the land. Drove out to the visitor center to get our maps to plan our hikes for the next few days. Then hit the General Store for food and stopped at a local Greenhouse. Very cool! We picked fresh peas, onions and cut a variety of lettuce for a mixed green salad – $5 for everything. The gardener suggested a spicy arugula, which is native to the area to add to our salad, which he basically cut off of a volunteer plant growing in the parking lot. Random. But, the salad was so fresh and delicious, it will be hard to go back to store bought, and that arugula made it! The spice was a flavor I have never tasted.
While at the Greenhouse, a local couple suggested a hike for us for the next day – Sulphur Creek Trail. We took them up on their suggestion! It was a hike through a steep-walled canyon with most of it through the creek. We put on our water shoes and it was a great hike to stay cool on a hot day. We ended at the visitor center and hitched a ride with an older French couple back to our car at the trailhead. When we got in their car the wife’s iPhone was playing loud music and she couldn’t figure out how to turn it off. She handed it back to Mike and he promptly opened iTunes and hit stop. Funny thing is the phone was in French, but it obviously worked the same as ours. We definitely had a language barrier with them, but lots of smiles and a ‘merci beaucoup’ when they dropped us off seemed to be all we needed! Home to the MoHo to watch the final round of the US Open – watching golf is one of our indulgences. Phil didn’t pull it out, but we were happy that Justin Rose won.
Woke up the next morning and I was definitely sluggish. The heat and all of the hiking were catching up with me I think. But, had to kick it in for our last day here. Drove into the park along the “Scenic Drive” to the Capitol Gorge Road for our hike. We chose the Golden Throne Trail. A strenuous, 4 miler, with 730 feet of elevation. It was a good one and the views at the top stunning. We ate our lunch then headed back down. Explored a bit more in the park, including a stop for ice cream at the historic Gifford House, and a jar of local pickles and salsa. Yummy!
Capitol Reef was definitely less busy than Zion or Bryce. On our first day’s hike we didn’t see anyone else and on the second day’s hike, only 2 people. Kind of nice to be away from crowds. Driving to and from this park and within the park has been the most scenic so far. The area itself is just full of jaw-dropping views. We would definitely recommend this less visited NP. We head to Moab tomorrow, which will be our home base for the last two National Parks of Utah – Canyonlands and Arches.
Click HERE for pics of our two hikes in the park!