Sunday, June 5, 2016

Utah: Capitol Reef National Park

I spent Memorial Day 2016 in Capitol Reef National Park, in Torrey, Utah (listed by The Weather Channel as Utah's best kept secret). The best way to get there is to fly to Salt Lake City and then drive the approximate three hours south to Capitol Reef National Park. (Check out my prior post for touring ideas in Salt Lake City, but with two added recommendations - Mexican food dinner at Red Iguana and staying at Little America or Grand America - don't get a garden room at Little America though - be sure to get a tower room.)

We grabbed lunch on the way to Capitol Reef National Park (note that after you hit the Flying J rest stop, there aren't many dining options) and checked into our hotel, the Capitol Reef Resort, upon arrival. The hotel doesn't look like much from the outside, but it was a great place to stay. It's the closest hotel to the park (well, tied with the hotel across the street from it), with nicely appointed rooms with wonderful views, a pool, a hot tub - and fun teepees and covered wagons in which you can stay if you don't like the regular room option. The hotel also has fire pits and horseback riding on premises. The only thing that wasn't great about the hotel was the restaurant (mediocre at best).

Horseback Riding at Capitol Reef Resort

Covered Wagons at Capitol Reef Resort

Following our arrival, we headed to the ranger station to get a recommendation as to what to do. We settled on hiking the Chimney Rock Trail after checking out Petroglyphs Point (not to be missed). It was a gorgeous hike - it took about two hours and was moderately strenuous. Be sure to bring plenty of water. We followed that hike with three short hikes - Panorama Point, the Sunset Point Trail, and Goosenecks Overlook. Goosenecks Overlook is well worth the hike. Following our afternoon of hiking, we enjoyed dinner at The Broken Spur. (One of my travel companions is trying to taste wine in all 50 states - she enjoyed a made in Utah wine at the restaurant. Surprisingly, there are a number of made in Utah wine options.)
Capitol Reef National Park
Petroglyphys at Petroglyphs Point

Capitol Reef National Park
Utah wine tasting

Our second day started out with a four hour horseback ride with Outlaw Trails Guide. The trail ride was gorgeous - and the guides were amazing. This is a "must do" in Capitol Reef National Park. After enjoying some delicious Bison Burgers at Red Cliffs Restaurant (recommended by one of our trail guides), we headed back into the park to hike the Golden Throne trail. This hike takes about three hours and is strenuous - but well worth it for the gorgeous views (including the views on the scenic drive on the way to the hike).

Horseback Riding in Utah
Great trail ride with Outlaws

Following our wonderful trip, we headed back to Salt Lake City for the night, stopping at Country Cafe in Loa, Utah for dinner. (The food at Country Cafe was great, and the owner was really friendly; well worth the stop.)

Our trip could not have been better except that it was too short. If I were doing it again, I'd plan to stay an extra day and do some fly fishing. (Also, if I had a week, I'd plan to do all the Utah Parks in one trip - Capitol Reef, Bryce, Zion, Arches, and Canyonlands.)

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