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Capitol Reef Questions for a weekend trip

Old Sep 23rd, 2009, 07:51 AM
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Capitol Reef Questions for a weekend trip

I am taking my 20 year old neighbor with me on this trip. Normally, my wife and daughter go along and wife doesn't like to tent camp, so this might be a good time for me to try this. Not sure I want to risk the cold nights? I am accustomed to long strenuous hikes and the guy coming with me is super physically fit(college athlete). We will arrive SLC 4:20 on Thursday Oct 15 and fly back out Sunday 18th at 5:20pm. This give us two full days and maybe a little bit in the morning on Sunday.
Not sure which trail I want to hike in Cap Reef. Not sure if I want to drive Burr Trail or Cathedral Valley. Not sure if I want to Camp in Fruita, or one of the primitive campsites on either of the driving trails. I can rent tent and camping gear at REI in Salt Lake. I might rent a cabin in Torrey.

Options for lodging:
Tent camp in Fruita and Goblin Valley
Tent camp in a primitive campground
Tent camp in back country
Rent a cabin in Torrey
Motel in Torrey

Is Burr Trail or Cathedral Valley road the best?? Do I need to get a 4 wheel drive high clearance vehicle when I rent (park websites suggests that)? Do I want to do either of these?
Something like a toyota rav is usually available.

Trails I am considering:
Hickman Bridge
Sulphur Creek Trail
Frying Pan/Cassidy Arch/Grand Wash
Headquarter Canyon
Suprise Canyon
Brimhall Arch
Goosenecks
Fremont River Waterfall (to cold to swim??)
Sunset Point

Goblin Valley
Little Wild Horse Canyon(near Goblin Valley)
Great Gallery in Canyonlands

Doubt I would do Calf Creek Falls unless it is better than everything above. I haven't been to Bryce and plan on doing Bryce/ Calf Creek/The wave in a year or two with my wife and daughter.

This will be my neighbors first time to fly and also his first trip to a National Park. I have been to Arches, Zion, Monument Valley, Natural Bridges, Canyonlands, so I have an idea of what to expect here. I usually go for the most spectacular day hikes. Distance and effort will not have a bearing on my selections. I would imagine we could do 2 long hikes each day. Probably 12-14 miles would be my limit for a day. Does anyone have any reccomendations on the trails I listed or any other good trails?

Hopefully, Dayle, Meyer, and others who have been to Cap will see this. Thanks!!!!
I am trying to make best use of my 2.5 days in the area.
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 04:14 AM
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The drive from Torrey to Goblins and the trailhead for the hike into the Great Gallery will take a few hours. Goblins is a neat area but there didn't seem to be marked trails. We mostly wandered around the odd formations for a few hours, which was lots of fun. The drive from Goblins to the Great Gallery trailhead is about an hour on dirt roads which are do-able in a car as long as the weather cooperates. Our first attempt to do the Great Gallery hike several years ago had to be scratched about 1/3 of the way in on the road due to incoming rain. We sure didn't want to get stranded out there! And we always have a 4WD vehicle in southern Utah. The hike is certainly well worth the effort but might be too far to travel on such a short trip.

I'd suggest spending your time in Capitol Reef - we did a good part of the Cohab Canyon hike and it was spectacular! Can't wait to get back and finish it... Hickman Bridge is nice but pretty short; a nice morning stroll. We did the hike to Surprise Canyon (off of the Burr Trail) a few years back and it was nice but not as scenic as trails in Cap Reef. The Golden Throne is recommended by many (in Cap Reef) although we haven't done it.
We've driven the entire Burr Trail several times from Cap Reef to Boulder and it's very enjoyable but, considering your short trip, I'd again suggest sticking to Cap Reef. Haven't done the Cathedral Valley drive but you have to cross the Fremont River so you will need a high clearance vehicle.

If you go to Goblins, the hike into Little Wild horse is recommended by many and will give you the slot canyon experience.

We had planned to camp in Goblins on our last trip but again, weather changed our plans and we ended up staying extra nights in Torrey instead and driving to the Great Gallery trailhead and back. It worked out fine. Austin's in Torrey is a great value (only $70/night). It's hard to talk me into sleeping on the ground when there is a nice clean (and cheap!) room available...and a hottub. The food available at Austin's (in the store) is also really good and very inexpensive.
Calf Creek is a nice hike but not worth the drive (on this trip). Cap Reef will provide you with plenty of amazing scenery and hiking to easily fill 2-3 days. I'm so jealous!
Have a fantastic trip!
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 01:04 PM
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What about this Iten????

Plane arrive SLC @ 4:22
Drive to Torrey and overnight there

Day 2
Hike Cohab Canyon/Frying Pan/Cassidy Arch/Grand Wash as a big loop hike
Hike Hickman Bridge
See Goosenecks, Fremont River Waterfall
See Fruita Orchard
See Sunset Point @ sunset

Day 3
Up at 5:00AM
on Trailhead around 7:00AM at Great Gallery
2:00 Little Wild Horse
4;30 Goblin Valley
overnight in Torrey

Day 4
7:00 Burr Trail? breakfast @ Hells Backbone???
Hike?
need to head to airport about 11:00am??
flight home departs @ 5:02pm
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 01:06 PM
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I am actually thinking of scraping this all together and hiking other places. Maybe just Escalante??? maybe back to Arches. I haven't been to Cap Reef, but I love arches.
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 05:23 PM
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Hi spiro,

Wow! It's almost spooky how I had the exact same comments as sharondi. If you want to visit Capitol Reef, there is PLENTY right there for your 2.5 days.

Maybe make it over to Goblin Valley early on your last morning, then continue north and then west again on I-70 back to SLC?

I wouldn't risk driving the whole way on the Burr Trail on a flight day. You could have a car problem.....Most of the way is pretty dusty, washboarded and boring anyway. The best part is from Boulder to the switchbacks. Save that for your Bryce/Escalante trip when you hike Calf Creek Falls.

Oct is a very good time of year for this area, but it could be cold at night. The Fuita campground is one of the very nicest Natl Park campgounds there is, BUT they are totally first-come-first-serve and it will be full in Oct by noon, even for a long weekend. There are nice walk-in tent spots that are usually last to fill.

Hikes I've done at CR that I recommend:

Hickman Bridge - short, nice, big reward
Cohab Canyon - beautiful, steep (but short) start from the farmhouse
Golden Throne - really a great hike, not extremely long or hard, but just enough, and again a great reward at the "end of the trail"

Don't care for:

Chimney Rock

Have heard very good reports of the long loop! I was going to do the Cassidy Arch hike this past May, but it had already become too hot when I was there.

I believe Sunset Point takes off from the Hickman Bridge trail. You should do these together maybe for Sunset if you want, but take a large, very bright flashlight for the return. It gets dark fast there! You might get lucky and see some of the elusive, noctural critters.

A couple trips ago I did the Cathedral Valley drive. I honestly wouldn't recommend it. There were a couple spots that were real highlights, but the long, rough and mostly boring drive wasn't worth it. Unfortunately the most spectacular formations are at the exact middle point of the drive, so no way to take the "shorter" way in and out. It took me about 4.5 hours total. Yes, you would absolutely need a 4x4 high clearance for this drive, crossing the river and other spots. My Jeep did just fine, but there were a few areas where I had it in 4 wheel drive low.

Hope this helps. You've already been to Arches so you know it's hard to beat. It's also one of my favorite Natl Parks! I don't have A favorite.
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 05:27 PM
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Oh, one more. I haven't done the Goosenecks hike yet myself, but I met a young couple who had done it on the last trip. It does involve wading in cold, waist high water through the narrow parts of the canyon. They said it was awesome. Do check with the Visitor's Center and ask for specifics on this hike. I don't remember if they said any climbing equip was needed, but there might well be. The rangers at the visitor's center know all the details and current conditions.
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 05:29 PM
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Yet another detail comes to mind. They did say the hike ends closer down to the Visitor's Center and they had to hitch a ride back to their car. Once you're in the canyon there is no way out. You have to go the whole way!
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Old Sep 26th, 2009, 03:25 AM
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climb-utah.com has pretty good descriptions of a lot of the Cap Reef hikes. he doesn't rate the hikes, so its kinda hard to tell the great ones from the duds. It sounds like with my short time that the two dirts road drives, I should probably skip. My thinking on Arches is that my neighbor would probably be more "wowed" with it. I haven't really done much in Canyonlands either. I noticed the past couple of nights have been in the 30s at Canyonlands. That would be pretty chilly for a tent, so might not attempt that.
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Old Sep 26th, 2009, 05:44 PM
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spriobulldog,

The campground at Island in the Sky districto of Canyonlands is at quite high altitude, much higher than the town of Moab. Also, the Devil's Garden campground at Arches is the highest altitude point the park, so it can be cold at night in mid-Oct too.

Yes, a first time visitor will have more of a WOW factor at Arches. The thing with Utah is that the more time you spend, the more you appreciate the infinite variety. You realize that you can spend a lifetime exploring and still never see it all! And that goes for the entire state!
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