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one day in capitol reef...want to see it all

Seattle, Washington
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one day in capitol reef...want to see it all

I know one day is not nearly enough to see all of capitol reef, however, I would like to see as much as possible, and don't mind hours of hiking. I have read through many of the other posts, about similar situations, however, it seems that most people don't want to do extensive hiking and are asking about short easy scenic hikes. I, on the other hand, don't mind spending the entire day hiking around the park.

Some background...my husband and I will be traveling in late september and intend to arrive at capitol reef around noon, coming from san francisco, with a stopover on the way. We will be staying the night at the fruita campground, and then have to head out the next day, but would like to see as much as we can in our short amount of time. There seems to be so many different suggestions about hikes, I was wondering if anyone could give me some suggestions on how much we could fit in in 6-8 hours of hiking. Any combination of hikes would be appreciated...we are ambitious and active, so bring it on ;)

Thank you much

Torrey, Utah
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for Torrey, Capitol Reef National Park
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1. Re: one day in capitol reef...want to see it all

Your title is probably putting people off answering, Capitol Reef NP is over 70 miles long, the northern and southern sections are only accessible by long dirt roads, only a narrow strip in the middle around Fruita has a paved road or any facilities. The park can be divided into 3 major parts, north is Cathedral Valley an area of large sandstone monoliths and cliffs. The middle is the dome area and the south is the classic Waterpocket Fold area. Given your time limit you are pretty much restricted to the middle area, take a look at the park web site to figure out which hikes will give you the type of experience you want. Start by looking at Cohab Canyon and the Frying Pan Trail with Cassidy Arch. Those give you a good overview of the dome area.

Sedona, AZ
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for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
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2. Re: one day in capitol reef...want to see it all

Bob knows CR. His advice is spot on. Your situation is also complicated by the fact that you'll be driving from Bryce that morning and breaking camp to head to Moab the next day.

Understand that the 100 mile drive from Bryce to Capital Reef is one of the most scenic drives in America and even under the best conditions, it will take 3 hours to drive. I usually allow twice that. Additionally there're several classic hiking opportunities along the way. It wouldn't be unreasonable to spend the whole day by doing a couple of hikes off UT12

I suggest that you research UT12 and consider dropping Canyonlands and Monument Valley from your plan. You could easily spend 3 nights between Bryce and CRNP

Park City, Utah
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for Utah, Winter Sports
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3. Re: one day in capitol reef...want to see it all

From your other posts, assuming you're coming in from Bryce, too. If so, and nothing against Capitol Reef, but you'll pass by a number of truly spectacular hikes including Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Gulch along the Hole in the Rock Road in Escalante-Grand Staircase plus Calf Creek Falls.

You have good advice on Capitol Reef. My only addition is that if you're driving in from Bryce, we like the ride down the Burr Trail to Waterpocket Fold and up through the park.We recently did it in five hours with no hikes - just scenice stops.

Key piece of advice, think about taking destinations out of your itinerary so you have time to enjoy some of the ones remaining.

Have fun.

Seattle, Washington
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4. Re: one day in capitol reef...want to see it all

Thank you everyone for your wonderful advice. Didn't mean to put anyone off by my "want to see it all" comment, just like to get in as much as I can. I have been constantly revising my itinerary based upon all the great feedback I am getting and all of your posts have been very helpful. I looked into the hiking on the way from bryce to capital reef...wow, you really could spend a day doing hikes along the way. Peek a boo and spooky gulch look really fun and different. Thank you killer_bob for dividing up capital reef into sections for me and your suggestion on the frying pan trail...as I am seeing how much there is to do along the drive, I am understanding that I may need more than a day to see everything I desire ( at least on this trip)

Thank you, RedRox for the suggestion on dropping canyonlands and monument valley-is there any reason why these would be your choice to bypass? The views look amazing at these locales, but perhaps I could choose one over the other. Taking time to enjoy the drive is something I am discovering I will need to learn to do...by focusing on the destinations, I have skipped over the many things to do along the drives between the proposed destinations, so thank you everyone for opening my eyes...it has given me a lot more to think about....and be excited for.

Sedona, AZ
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5. Re: one day in capitol reef...want to see it all

My main reason for dropping those two is because they are the most distant. Given your time allowance, I'd even drop Page and GCNP, but you have GCNP as a priority. You could easily spend your full vacation hiking just Zion, Bryce, UT12 and Capital Reef.

Edited: 09 August 2012, 20:14
Sedona, AZ
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6. Re: one day in capitol reef...want to see it all

Do you have your permits and reservations for Havasu? Do you have a back country permit for the GCNP?

Seattle, Washington
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7. Re: one day in capitol reef...want to see it all

We do have our permit for Havasu, and working on a permit in GCNP. I agree, that I could easily drop the Grand Canyon and Havasu, especially after finding so many great places to see in the southern Utah area. My husband has never been to the GC or Havasu, which is why we were considering these, and I have never been to the Utah desert, which is why we were trying to combine them...it may be a better idea to split these into two separate trips.

I wholehearted agree with you assessment of just hiking Zion, Bryce, UT12, and Capitol Reef. In fact, this may be what we do...I have found so many amazing hikes, and many that require backpacking expeditions, that we are contemplating keeping our two weeks in this area. I didn't realize, initially, that there was no direct route from the grand staircase/escalante area to the grand canyon...I soon found that we would have to circle up and around to get to GCNP...so that is something that may alter our plans. Thank you for your help, it has proven invaluable.

Roosevelt, Utah
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8. Re: one day in capitol reef...want to see it all

I spent a 4-day weekend with friends in Capitol Reef and didn't even come CLOSE to seeing it all! I managed a morning drive to the northern sections (Temple of the Sun and Temple of the Moon), an afternoon at Fremont Falls (before they closed them) and picking fruit in Fruita; a 2nd day in the southern section, hiking to Strike Valley Overlook and driving the switchbacks of the Burr Trail (with a late afternoon hike to Hickman Bridge-- plus a stop at the petroglyphs!); a third day hiking Sulphur Creek in the main section of the Park, and a 4th day exploring the Scenic Drive and hiking in Capitol Gorge.

And I still didn't see it all. :)

But I hope my adventure does give you some ideas. If you were to ask me which parts I love the best, it would be be the main section near Fruita, along the Fremont River. If you only have one day, concentrate on the Scenic Drive and the Fruita area. It is the heart of the Park for a reason.

Have a great time on your trip!

*Pixie*

Seattle, Washington
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9. Re: one day in capitol reef...want to see it all

Pixie, your information absolutely does help. We will be camping in the fruita area and it is great to know that you loved this part of the park. All of your hiking and driving routes have helped to clarify the layout of the park and and haven give me an idea of what we will be able to tackle in the time we have. Sounds like you had a fun trip...I can't wait to visit.

Seattle, Washington
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10. Re: one day in capitol reef...want to see it all

I have been researching UT 12, as suggested, and can't believe what amazing hikes there are in this area. You are so right, we could easily spend three days hiking there. Golden cathedral, coyote gulch, and spooky/peek-a-boo look awesome, just to name a few. I have one major reservation based upon my research, and that is the condition of hole in the rock road. We will either be driving our older model subaru or renting a car; and either way this seems like a questionable idea considering our vehicle. Am I correct in deciding that we should possibly skip this area, or am I being overly cautious? There are wildly different opinions on this matter, ranging from some saying one could do this drive in a honda civic while others say one needs a 4x4 with special tires...quite the conundrum.

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