Capital Reef – fewer people, sweet canyons

I finally made it to the last of the “Big 5” National Parks in Utah. Capital Reef is the most remote and least visited, and it was awesome. Instead of the congested streets in Moab, it has the practically empty town of Torrey servicing it. Instead of waiting in a long line, you can drive right in any time of day. And the park is no less amazing than the others. My mom was visiting and had never been to Capital Reef either, so we spent the weekend exploring it.

We spent most of the first day hiking a 7 mile route through the Sulpher Creek canyon from the Chimney Rock parking lot to the Visitor Center. This involved about 40 shallow river crossings and quite a bit of scrambling. High canyon walls surround most of the way. It’s a point to point hike with three miles of road between points. After we finished I started running back to the car, but was able to get a ride hitchhiking within a few minutes.

The second day we spent canyoneering. We descended Wife One (of the seven wives). It involved a series of rappels in mostly narrow canyons with very little walking between them. The longest rappel was about 50 feet, although there are enough anchors left by people and the rappels are close enough together that you could skip some and opt for fewer longer rappels.


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