Stupid Capitol Reef… why a reef? Is it because the area was once under water? Or is it because it looks like the intricacies of a reef? Did they find lots of marine fossils? Nope! It is because if you look really hard, squint your eye, tilt your head and perhaps stand on one foot, some — not all — but some of the rocks could resemble fish fins! Now, you ask, by Capitol? It is because it is majestic? Or grand? Or perhaps the center or something important? Nope, again! It is because one formation kind’a resembles a dome… like the roof of the Capitol building in DC. Good grief! They should have left the name as it was: Wayne's Wonderland.
The last of the Utah parks on our list to visit, Capitol Reef has the typical red rock formations, arches, natural bridges, and canyons of the rest of southern Utah, but it is a bit more subdued.
Cassidy My A*s The two main park trails, Hickman Natural Bridge Trail and Cassidy Arch Trail — we really don’t know why one is a bridge and one is an arch — are both steep, exposed and a strenuous given their high elevations, but definitely beautiful and worth the effort.
Even so… Cassidy Arch does not deliver since we are really hoping to find some of the treasures that Butch Cassidy allegedly hid around there. On the other hand, the hike is a learning experience for us both: Dan learns how to open Smart Water bottle and Assana learns that hummingbirds and elephants have different heart rates!
Backroads The gateway to Capitol Reef, the quaint town of Torrey with its few restaurants and one great coffee shop, is also one end of Hwy 12, a scenic byway that connects Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon. Hwy 12 is supposed to be one of the most beautiful byways of the country. It meanders through a hight plateaux (9600’ summit) and groves of Aspens. It is pretty but we are there during off-season and the trees have already lost their leaves and color changes.
Roads What is impressive is the perfect asphalt on every Utahn road, even though they get so much weather through out the year. No potholes, no cracks, no bums! And no roadside shrines since no one drinks — New Mexico, take notes! Hwy 12 has fiber… in the middle of absolutely no where. Even the trails are very nicely done and well maintained complete with trail counters — not betrayal counters as Assana thought Dan called out — especially compared to the worst trail on earth in Juneau, AK. Best of all? 80MPH speed limits! Go Utah!
Rainbow? No! During our first ever visit to the Four Corners we hit a snow storm in Bryce Canyon and effectively did not really see much. So, while we are at it, we are re-doing Bryce Canyon. And boy, Bryce does not disappoint!
Yes, it is windy and cold; the lodge has used too much water so is on a water diet — paper plates for everyone — and yes, the trails are strenuous especially at such a high elevation for two people with knee and calf injuries… but we are so glad to finally see some of the sights we missed the last time. Rainbow Point (9115’ elevation)? Well, it is indeed like a rainbow! As difficult as hiking in elevation is, it provides such amazing views of the canyon and the hoodoos. Walking on the edge of these deep canyons is a bit disconcerting for stumbling Assana… makes her think she should perhaps register the JustDanNow.com domain!
Bryce continues to be one Assana’s top three parks.
Snow All You Want Incidentally, the weather does catch up with us. Then drive back to Salt Lake City is mostly ice, snow, and very windy. Not enough to ruin the trip.
6 days and 775 Miles in our trustee Audi rental which for the most part was a great little car except for the cruise control setting which constantly punishes us by canceling — no carrots, only stick. We are done with Utah parks. Though we can see ourselves revisiting again. This area is simply too beautiful to not return to.