Capitol Reef National Park – I Think We’re Alone Now

This is the second in a series of posts from my photo safari to the American Southwest.  Look for links to the others at the bottom.

Every day busloads of tourists arrive at Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon, and Arches National Park. Not so at Capitol Reef. If you are looking for solitude, you really can find it here. It gets a fraction of the visitors of the more popular parks nearby.  And the park is huge.

How many Chimney Rocks are there in the world? Here's another, right by the highway.
How many Chimney Rocks are there in the world? Here’s another, right by the highway.

Like much of the southwest, Capitol Reef is another red rock scene.   There is a visual smorgasbord of color that surrounds the adventurer here.    The rock formations are not as bazaar as Arches or Bryce, but they are spectacular nonetheless.

Great red cliffs loom above the park visitor center - and my truck.
Great red cliffs loom above the park visitor center – and my truck.

One can get a great sampling of the beauty here by driving  through the canyon on highway 24 east of Torrey, and Capitol Reef has a nice paved scenic drive that wanders among the towering cliffs.  But the real solitude is found at some of the remote valleys that the park encompasses.   Cathedral Valley to the north and to the south, Waterpocket Fold.

Capitol Reef w pickup

But here’s the rub.  They are hard to get to, which is precisely the reason that these obscure sights remain unknown for the most part.

One of the routes into Cathedral Valley requires fording the Fremont River.  I did it both going and coming.  (You can watch the video of my crossing at the bottom of the post.)

On the very rough trail to Cathedral Valley after fording the river. Rock me, baby!
On the very rough trail to Cathedral Valley after fording the river. Rock me, baby!

All of the roads that are less traveled and lead to the more secluded areas of the park are in varying degrees of condition, and high clearance and four wheel drive vehicles are recommended.

Red Rock at Capitol Reef

Of course, if you do go off road, it is important to fuel up and make sure your provisions are in good order, especially water.  If it rains while you are out there, the roads may become impassable, even for four wheel drive.

It’s a long way from the freeway, but if you are looking for rugged adventure and to really get away from it all, try Capitol Reef.

And have fun!

Capitol Reef landscape

Here is the link to the 53-second YouTube video of my river crossing. (You will leave my site)  The water was deep for the Jeep following me, but they  made it across too – without floating away downstream.

Read the 1st post in the Southwest series here:  Bryce Canyon National Park is Hoodoo Central.

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