Capitol Reef and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Capitol Reef National Park was my first park in Utah. I arrived late in the afternoon and just camped at a very popular boon docking site just outside the park.
As usual I went to the Visitor Center to get some information and maps about the park. The park offers many hikes and a few 4×4 trails. I decided to do the scenic road into the park and then do a loop out of the park via the South Draw 4×4 trail and then back to Torrey. This trail involved some serious off roading, steep slopes with rocks and steps in it, slanted and washed out parts, even a river crossing and some mud beds where involved. Lots of fun, adrenaline and on top of all amazing views.

Since the main campground in the parks was full, I decided to start the Cathedral Valley road, a 56mile loop on a dirt road. In the middle of it is a free campground with six spots. There I met a fellow traveler from Scotland with his Land Rover Discovery. Doug had a huge telescope and we spent the evening talking about Land Rovers, stargazing, and picture taking. He showed me Saturn on the telescope, the Andromeda galaxy and many other stars. It was amazing to see the Saturn and clearly see the rings, a view I’ll never forget! Thanks a lot again Doug! You can read about his tour on his blog.

The day after I finished the loop and took the Burr trail road out of the park. However, I spent another night in the park and hit another jackpot. Two other travelers where in this small (5 spot) and free campground. A night on the campfire with dutch oven apple pie was over quickly. I got a great tip for a hike, the Upper Muley Loop which I did the next day.
It’s a hike through a canyon and then up to the rim and back. It was a hot and very windy day and with the detour and getting lost I did about 11miles, worth every step I took. There was only one other group of people on the trail who did the loop in the other direction. As usually, if you leave the paved roads you are pretty much by yourself.

After the amazing days in Capitol Reef I decided to skip Canyonlands and Arches to have enough time exploring the other parks and places I wanted to visit, thus instead of going east I went south to go explore the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument which covers a large area of the Waterfold pocket. There were a ton of things to explore, for example I saw dinosaur tracks, slot canyons and off course, lots of off roading[1].

[1] Off roading is in this case on roads, but usually not much maintaned and washed out.

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