Highway 12 in Southern Utah Road Trip

Highway 12 in Southern Utah

Highway 12 in southern Utah is a breathtaking journey past some of southern Utah’s most picturesque features, including Red Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, Kodachrome Basin State Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, and Capitol Reef National Park. The highway explores high desert rock formations, historic sites, badlands, and aspen forests high in the mountains through …

Capitol Gorge and the Tanks

Capitol Gorge Abstract

Distance: 1 mile (one way, to Tanks) Difficulty: Easy Best time of year: Year-round Last hiked: 2015 October The Capitol Gorge Trail is an easy trail to give visitors a taste of what lies in the rest of the backcountry of Capitol Reef National Park. A wash cuts through massive sandstone cliffs creating an extraordinary wonder when viewed from below. …

Fremont River Trail

Rainbow over Fremont River

Distance: 1.3 miles (one way, depending on starting location) Difficulty: Moderate Best time of year: Year-round Last hiked: 2015 October The Fremont River Trail roughly parallels the Fremont Gorge Overlook Trail, only it does so from the other side of the river. It’s also a little easier in that it’s not quite as long of a trail. And like the …

Frying Pan

Cohab Canyon and Waterpocket Fold

Distance: 2.85 miles (one way) Difficulty: Strenuous (N-S), Moderate (S-N) Best time of year: Year-round Last hiked: 2015 October The Frying Pan Trail can either be hiked as an in-and-out hike, or as a connector trail to another location, especially if you have a shuttle car. And like the Chimney Rock Trail, this was another that I vastly underestimated in …

Navajo Knobs

The Castle and the Waterpocket Fold

Distance: 4.5 miles (one way) Difficulty: Moderate Best time of year: Year-round Last hiked: 2015 October Navajo Knobs was the first trail I did in Capitol Reef National Park, and it remains one of my favorites. Most of the trail is spent winding around the rim of the Waterpocket Fold. …and that is just about as underwhelming as you can …

Chimney Rock Loop

Chimney Rock

Distance: 3.8 miles Difficulty: Strenuous Best time of year: Year-round Last hiked: 2015 October I was fooled the first few times I saw the Chimney Rock Trailhead. Just a few hundred yards to the east is Chimney Rock. Surely the trail can’t be that long or even that interesting, I mistakenly thought. Of course it wasn’t until much later I …

Fremont Gorge Overlook

Fremont River Gorge

Distance: 2.4 miles (one way) Difficulty: Moderate Best time of year: Year-round Last hiked: 2015 October I had hoped that the Fremont Gorge Overlook Trail would make for a great sunrise hike, but it turns out this one’s much more suited to late afternoon/evening. Regardless, I made the best of it and am glad I did. The overlook at the …

Sunset Point and Goosenecks

Sunset Point, Capitol Reef National Park

Distance: 0.5 miles (both, one-way) Difficulty: Easy Best time of year: Year-round Last hiked: 2015 October Sunset Point and the Goosenecks are two trails that are so easy to do, there’s really no reason not to do them. Both trails combine to less than one mile, and feature some breathtaking views of the gorges and the Waterpocket Fold. As indicated …

Cassidy Arch

Hiker at Cassidy Arch

Distance: 1.85 miles (one way) Difficulty: Moderate Best time of year: Year-round Last hiked: 2015 October Cassidy Arch Trail Description Cassdiy Arch is a spur trail off of the Grand Wash Trail. It climbs up the canyon wall, bringing you to the top of the Waterpocket Fold where a massive arch overlooks the canyon entrance below. Good route finding skills …

Upper Muley Twist Canyon

Rim Trail on Waterpocket Fold

Distance: 10 miles (loop) Difficulty: Strenuous Last hiked: 2015 October Best time of year: Year-round In looking at the map and reading general descriptions (though probably not carefully enough), I vastly underestimated this hike. Realizing it would make a great sunset hike, I was already en route down Notom Road along the east side of the park around midday when …

Cohab Canyon and the Overlooks Trail

Clouds Above Waterpocket Fold

Distance: 1.8 miles (one way) Difficulty: Moderate Best time of year: Year-round Last hiked: 2015 October The Overlooks Trail can be accessed most directly from two different trailheads: one across the street from the Hickman Bridge Trailhead, and the other across the street from the campground. In this particular instance, I went with the latter, but each will bring you …

Hickman Bridge

Hickman Bridge and Waterfall

Distance: 1 mile (one way) Difficulty: Easy Best time of year: Year-round Last hiked: 2015 October Hickman Bridge Trail Description From the trailhead, the beginning few-tenths of the trail are the most challenging. After walking along the Fremont River for a short distance, the trail climbs over only a couple tenths of a mile, bringing you up to a small …

Surprise Canyon

Hiker in Surprise Canyon

Distance: 1 mile or more Difficulty: Easy, but some scrambling required Best time of year: Year-round Last hiked: 2015 October One of the really great things about Capitol Reef National Park, and any national park for that matter, is that unless otherwise indicated, you’re free to explore anywhere you want. Inside the Waterpocket Fold, this yields massive opportunities that I …