Capitol Reef National Park, 8/2/12

After finally getting a hot shower, we left Bryce and hit Utah Route 12 for the drive to Torrey and Capitol Reef National Park. This whole leg was a result of research back in Florida. The Rt 12 drive was described as a “must do” by the folks on TripAdvisor and it is easy to see why. It has been designated a “National Scenic Byway” and, even more impressively, an All American Road. We needed to go north anyway in order to get back to Salt Lake City, so this was a no-brainer.

Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, 8/1/12

And what a beautiful drive it was, too. Impressive scenery, some sphincter-tightening moments, a great lunch and some unplanned turn-offs all combined for a very enjoyable day. The first unplanned stop was at the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park (it’s easy to find while traveling north…just hang a left after the Airstream-themed Drive-In/Campground) where we met a very nice young lady who took our entrance fee. Since there was nobody behind us, we spoke for a bit and asked her what else we should see on the way to Torrey. She STRONGLY recommended that we drive down the Burr Trail where, about 11.5 miles in, there was a nice slot canyon we could walk into. We took a hike in the park where Patti saw petrified wood for the first time, then we pressed on. In Boulder, we stopped for a delicious lunch at Hell’s Backbone Grill where they also recommended the Burr Trail. After doing the Anasazi State Park Museum, and getting yet another Burr Trail recommendation, we headed down the Burr Trail Scenic Backway. The narrow, winding road connects Boulder, Utah, to Capitol Reef and continues on to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. We wished we were in our own truck rather than a rental car so that we could keep on going but a segment of it is unpaved. It’s a stunning drive through red canyons and scrub land. We found the slot canyon without a problem, right at 11.5 miles, and got out to explore. It was raining not too far off, though, so we didn’t linger.

Torrey, UT, 8/1/12

We arrived in Torrey with plenty of daylight left, so we ducked into Capitol Reef for a bit. Stopped at the visitor’s center where the ranger told us to check out the petroglyphs that were close by. We got there just as a herd of deer moved through an orchard, complete with a fawn frolicking through the trees. After seeing the glyphs, we headed back to our hotel just outside the park. At dinner that night, Patti got her second “first” of the day when she saw hummingbirds at a feeder just outside the restaurant window. It was pretty spectacular and I got some nice photos and even a movie.

Next morning, our last on the road, we explored Capitol Reef some more, enough to know we need to come back. Lots of beautiful scenery in this lightly visited park. We also got to participate a bit in the park’s 75th birthday celebration (yummy cupcakes), took a scenic hike to Hickman Bridge, picked peaches in one of the orchards (free if eaten there, $1/lb otherwise), bought some delicious pies and preserves (which we’re still enjoying), took many more photos, then headed up the road to Salt Lake City and eventually, home. Road Trip 2012 was over. Bummer.

Slot Canyon, 11.5 miles ESE of Boulder, UT, 8/1/12

Slot Canyon, 11.5 miles ESE of Boulder, UT, 8/1/12

Capitol Reef National Park, 8/1/12

Petroglyphs, Capitol Reef National Park, 8/1/12

Hickmans Bridge, Capitol Reef National Park, 8/2/12

Orchard, Capitol Reef National Park, 8/2/12

Capitol Reef National Park, 8/2/12