It felt as if the Capitol Reef National Park is in the middle of nowhere. In any case, the drive from Camping Calf Creek Recreation Area felt pretty long.
First, we went into the mountains again. And at 2926 m the Scenic Byway 12 finally reaches its highest point. Up here there is still a lot of snow and from a lookout we could see our destination in the distance.
We would have loved to spend the night directly in the national park on the Fruita Campground. But also here again: all spots were already reserved. The option to book the campsites online is nice and good, but it would be also nice to keep some sites on a first-come-first-serve basis for those who don’t want to plan their whole holiday meticulously! Slowly but surely we have to get used to the idea that we have to camp outside the national parks and drive into them during the day. Checking the reservation websites of the campgrounds in the next two national parks showed that despite being 4-5 days ahead, there was not one spot left either. So we decided to stay at a BLM campground outside the national park. This one was free of charge and we also had a nice view of the Waterpocket Fold, the geological formation that runs through the whole national park.
But first we explored the Scenic Drive, the road that leads far into the national park.
And with the Grand Wash Trail we also did our first little hike in the Capitol Reef NP. It has almost no elevation, but leads further and further into a canyon and the high mountains come closer and closer together. When it rains heavily, you certainly don’t want to be at the lowest point here.
On the way back to the BLM campground we stopped at Gifford House and bought a tasty Mixed Berry Pie:
The next morning we walked the Chimney Rock Loop Trail, which offers great views of the Chimney Rock and of course of the Waterpocket Fold. We were almost alone on this trail and only when we were back in our van, the parking lot filled up slowly.
Then we went to the Panorama Point and from there to Goosenecks Overlook and Sunset Trail Point. Both are short, easy paths from which you have beautiful views of the surrounding gorges and mountains.
Finally we drove to The Castle, a rock formation that looks like (you guessed it) a castle.
Back at the campground we had a chat with Ryan from Salt Lake City, who invited us for a beer. One beer turned into several and at a campfire we exchanged our travel experiences.
So the next morning started a bit slowly for us 😉 and before we left Capitol Reef we walked up to the Rim Overlook. The lookout itself, didn’t blow our socks off (Yes, we are probably quite spoiled by now!), but on the way back we had great views of a snow-covered mountain range outside the national park.
Even after we already left the national park for some time in the eastern direction, nature didn’t have to be asked twice and suddenly offered a completely different, fascinating picture. We drove for two hours and only once drove through a small village. There is no mobile phone reception, so it was good that our camper didn’t break down here!
We spent the night on the campground in the Green River State Park, which we could book online while being on the road. Here they also offered nice hot showers.