Grand Canyon Trip – Day 6a – Capitol Reef NP

We woke up on on day two of the Capitol Reef visit to snow on the tent.  This did little to encourage expediency in getting on with doing things.  We violated the safety and wildlife rules of camping and proceeded to pull out the stove and make oatmeal in the tent vestibule.

Eventually we did get moving and went back to Capitol Gulch to hike up to Cassidy Arch and through the gulch itself.  Cassidy Arch was a pretty simple climb of about 1000 ft. ending in a relatively distant view of the arch.  We were keeping any eye out for big horn sheep as they were rumored to be present in the area, but saw none.

Cassidy Arch

Capitol Gulch was huge in comparison to what we had hiked the day before and there was no climbing required.  At the end (a few hundred yards from the parking lot on the other side) we finally caught a glimpse of something moving at the top of the cliffs and rounded the end of the plateau to find a family of four sheep.  I took a bunch of pictures of the sheep, which is kind of dumb since they’re just sheep after all, but then ran out of battery on the return, so I don’t have many pictures from in the canyon itself.

A little less than half way back it started to rain and snow lightly, so we took the hint that our day there was coming to an end, made our way out of the canyon and headed out of the park.  It was early enough, and we were close enough that we decided to stop by Bryce Canyon on our way back toward Las Vegas.

Somewhere en route to Bryce we were driving through a field and spotted a hawk on a fence post.  I decided we needed pictures of it, so there was short delay for that.  We also saw another bird soaring above and followed it for a bit.  I got a few very poor pictures, but I think, based on the feather patterns underneath and what I can find on Google that it was a Golden Eagle. Continue reading

Grand Canyon Trip – Day 5 – Capitol Reef NP

Capitol Reef Map

Having completed most everything we could do in Zion short of the hikes that require permits, such as the Narrows and Subway.  Our next destination was Capitol Reef.  It was relatively close, something new, and sounded like there might be some interesting hikes there.  It’s not as well known as Bryce, Arches, or a few of the other parks in that area, but we had already seen parts of those in past trips.

The park itself is a very long narrow stretch of land surrounding a waterpocket fold.  As we learned, the defining element of a fold is where the rock rises up gently from one side, but has broken off and forms cliffs from the other.  In the park, this means that if you approach from the West you see cliff walls and if you approach from the East, not so much.  Capitol Reef has a small area which is the Fruita Historic District where the remains of the town are preserved and the various orchards are still active and at the right time of year you can pick your own fruit.

We stayed at a hotel about 10 miles outside of the park in Torrey, got up relatively early and went straight to the Capitol Reef visitor center to figure out what we were going to do to make best use of about a day and half visit.  The weather which had haunted us thus far on the trip was not far off and the ranger warned us that if we wanted to hike any of the slot canyons we needed to be headed there immediately to avoid potential rain and flash floods later in the day.

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