Tag Archives: Utah

Western Adventure, Day XXVIII – Utah at Capitol Reef National Park

Yesterday, Nathan and I stopped by the Capitol Reef visitor center in Torrey and got a lay of the land prior to today’s big outing.

Our plan today is to hike the Hickman Bridge Trail, drive the northern loop jeep trail through Cathedral Valley and North Blue Flats, take photos of the Petroglyphs, and explore the Scenic Drive to the Tanks & Pioneer Register; a full day’s drive and exploring of Capitol Reef National Park.

Capitol Reef National Monument was established in 1937 and became a National Park in 1971. It is over 100 miles long and 24 miles wide at the widest point. It’s a giant buckle, called a Waterpocket Fold, in the Earth’s crust created over 65 million years ago by the same great forces that later uplifted the Colorado Plateau.

A strange, beautiful landscape of multi-hued rock layers and desert, Capitol Reef offers geologic formations, archeological evidence of ancient Fremont Culture, vestiges of a historic Mormon settlement “Fruita Historic District” with its fruit orchards, and a range of habitats.

Mormon pioneers and others began coming to the Fremont River valley in the late 1800s. No more than ten families at a time called the valley home. The last families moved on in 1968, leaving the orchards and buildings to the National Park.

We started hiking Hickman Bridge Trail at 7am. The trail started off with a rock wall on one side and Fremont River on the other. The trail then steadily climbed to the top where it smoothed out.

On this trail, you can see the Capitol Dome, which is said to resemble the Capitol building in Washington DC. (Personally, I saw no similarities.) The other part of Capitol Reef’s name derives from the regionally common use of the nautical term “reef” to identify steep ridges that are barriers to transportation.

The Hickman Bridge is 133 feet long and 125 feet high. It was named after Joseph Hickman who was a local school administrator and Utah legislator. Hickman was an early advocate for this area, which he called “Wayne Wonderland.”

Mike was determined to climb up to the top and walk over the top of the bridge. Briana, Zachary and him tried from both sides and could find no access across.

After the hike, we started driving to the jeep trail. The visitor center said to start on the river ford side first before we headed to the northern loop, since the depth of the river is unknown each day until you approach it. It takes eight hours to drive the loop. Would have to drive it back for eight hours if the river was too deep to cross. Mike had a great time fording the river with the truck. So much so, he did it another time. Dogs got to swim and unfortunately, Schatzy blew out her ACL and went lame.

The drive on the trail was so different than any other road we have ever been on… rough, HOT and barren. At one point, there was little vegetation. We found a few live cows. Why they are here, we had no idea. What a desolate place for them to live!

Mike thought it was funny to see a National Park sign with a gravel roadway, so he took a photo of it. The sign was out in the middle of nowhere. Once we left the park, we found a little lake. It was a weird place, so we did not stay long. We drove on to find the paved road, short cut, back to the main entrance to the petroglyphs.

Fremont Culture people lived here by the year 700 until sometime after 1250, growing corn, beans and squash, also hunting and gathering food. They left little traces, but the images they etched on the canyon walls are a sight to see.

After the petroglyphs, we headed on the Scenic Drive. Capitol Gorge was the only rocky route that cut through the Fold. Names of the canyon’s travelers after 1871 fill a rock wall called the Pioneer Register.

At 90+, Nathan decided to make a pass out scene to express his desire not to continue walking to the Tanks. Mike with Briana and Zachary continued on.

Capitol Reef gets less than eight inches of rain a year, but flash floods can occur at any time and are most common in late summer. Rainwater sometimes pools in eroded, bowl-like rock depressions. They are called the Tanks.

Spadefoot Toads live in these Tanks. Their eggs are laid in the water and hatch within days after a rainstorm. Tadpoles that reach adulthood, before the pool dries up, will repeat the cycle when the pool fills again. Mike got a photo of one. On the way up to the Tanks, Mike found boxwork above ground. We remembered it from the caves in South Dakota.

By night fall, we returned to the trailer, ready for sleep and the big drive to Oregon for dirt biking to our beloved riding spot, East Fort Rock, near Bend.


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Posted in United States, Western Adventure 2011

Western Adventure, Day XXVII – Utah at Dixie National Park

We woke to an amazingly blue skied day. During the early morning hours, we found a place to camp in Dixie National Park. We are about 8500 feet above sea level and have found trees, we are on our own and a small stream nearby. Nathan is happy. We all are.

At our spot, we came across a bunch of hunters and dogs tracking a bear. The bear went right through our camp. We needed groceries, so Nathan and I headed into the city of Torrey to round up some food. Mike and the other kids made time to put bacon a a tree to lure the bear back. Later on, Mike and the boys went for a drive and found a small slot canyon off a dirt road. We tried to make it to Capitol Reef to take sunset photos. All we got were the entrance sign and it was too dark to do anything else. We plan on returning tomorrow.


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Posted in United States, Western Adventure 2011 Also tagged , , |

Western Adventure, Day XXVI – Utah at Bryce Canyon and Marysvale

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Today was our day to pull out of Bryce City and head into Marysvale–the highly recommended city in UT to dirt bike out of for the Piute Trail System.

I washed clothes in the morning while Mike and the kids worked on getting everything repacked and ready for travel.

Bryce City really does the business. They average over twenty bus loads of people a day. Wow! Most of the visitors to Bryce are either French or Italian. They come on a canyon bus tour. Ruby’s has enough rooms and dining space to accommodate all the people. One server told us their business didn’t slow down in 2008 and 2009, as everyone else did, because the French and Italians kept touring. US citizens rarely come to the park. Yes, the French can be easily spotted as they plow you over trying to get to where they want without an “I’m sorry” or “Please excuse me.”

Even though we were all hitched up and ready to leave, Mike felt a second wind to drive all the way through Bryce National Park. We detached the trailer in town and went to the park. Bryce is a nice park. The colors are amazingly orange, peach, copper, lavender and brown; different from the deep hues of terracotta and burgundy of Zion. With Bryce, all the lookouts are from an above view point. Whereas, Zion you are in the canyon looking up. The different perspectives are nice.

Mike, Zachary and I liked Zion best and Briana and Nathan preferred Bryce. Briana liked the lighter colors and the erosion patterns and Nathan liked knowing there were trees near by. Mike, Zachary and I loved the cliffs and the majesty of Zion.

Bryce was entirely made up of hoodoos. There was one part, at Inspiration Point, where it was hoodoo and more hoodoos. We all agreed the walk on Fairyland trail was worth more than the drive and vistas from above the canyon because on the trail we walked amongst them.

After our drive, we hooked back up and headed to Marysvale. A town with only one restaurant that was in someone’s garage. There was also one gas station and one ATV shop. No grocery store. We talked with the ATV owner and found all the trail system was still under snow do to the high snow levels for the year. We did a quick vote and decided not to stay. Capitol Reef is going to be our next destination. Our other neighbor at Ruby’s suggested it. So we decided to head there, dry camp in the mountains and visit the park.


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Posted in United States, Western Adventure 2011

Western Adventure, Day XXV – Utah at Casto and Limeklin Canyons with Dirt Bikes

Casto Canyon

Casto Canyon

Back to what we do best, we took off on an adventure on our motorcycles with lots of water, food and a map. In little time, we discovered the provided map of the area was pathetic. How did we know? Well, when you are supposed to be traveling on a nice dirt road, but instead you are driving through a field full of cows and you find a rancher staring at you with the face of what the heck do you idiots think you are doing, then you know the map is worthless.

Being off track immediately upon leaving, we ended up on a forest service road that took us in the opposite direction. It made sense with the map, but is sure didn’t look right when we moved a gate and was greeted by 40 cows. Over 20 miles later, a few turns here and there, we finally made our way into Casto Canyon. What a beautiful sight too! It was the best visually pleasing trail we had ever ridden. The landscape was copper in color with several crystal clear small streams to cross. Very fun! We continued through the canyon to a small town on the other side, filled our tanks up with gas and had a tasty pizza for lunch before heading back through a new canyon called Limeklin… a well named canyon too. The sediment layer of this canyon has copper in it so the ground was green. We never did stop to take photos, since we were short on time.

To make a long drive short, we did get turned around once when we crossed Highway 12. I suggested one way… Mike said let’s go the other. We went his way and spent a significant more amount of time riding into the cold night. Thank goodness the kids all got bigger bikes, so we could travel faster. (Briana has a 200cc, Zachary 150cc and Nathan is on my old 100cc.) The photo of Briana sums up how she felt about the ride by the time she got into her bed… lol. We plan on heading further north to Marysvale UT for more riding.


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Posted in United States, Western Adventure 2011 Also tagged , |

Western Adventure, Day XXIV – Utah at Fairyland Trail in Bryce Canyon

Fairyland Canyon Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park

Fairyland Canyon Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park

Our RV neighbor told us about a must see trail called Fairyland Trail that runs through Bryce Canyon. They said the sights were beyond words. Taking their advice, we headed out to the trail for a nine mile walk.

Hard to believe there could be any pretty flowers on some parts of this trail where it become so barren and harsh. Thank goodness we walked this trail when it was only 80 degrees out. I couldn’t imagine it any hotter. I was about to pass out when we hit the area with no trees. Right about that time, all that kept me going in the heat was knowing there was a general store at the top of the canyon with lots of fresh, COLD fruit…

Zachary and Mike used their jackets to cover their close-shaved, burning heads and the rest of us got rid of as much clothing as possible.

The general store did have a bunch of fruit. After the store stop, we walked two miles along the ridge line back to the truck.

Bryce is so colorful with its hoodoos. The trail was the best way to see Bryce… up close and personal.


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Posted in United States, Western Adventure 2011