Capitol Reef Nat Park/Scenic Byway route 12

Trip Start Feb 09, 2013
Trip End Jun 30, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Utah
Friday, May 3, 2013

*** We have not had internet, electricity etc for over a week, so when I do there will be a number of my pages uploaded at the same time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4   We left Escalante State Park after waking up to a very cold 34 degrees at six in the morning.  We drove the scenic byway route 12 east.  This road is stunning.  You start out going by rocks, then cliffs with hairpin turns and then half way up boulders before you enter a National Forest that had deer, campgrounds, snow and thick, green Evergreen Trees.  We were going up 10% grade mountains with great views but curvy and scary.  At one point we had no cliffs  or guard rails on either side of us but just drop offs with the road feeling like we were flying and George was passing out. 

         We left at 7 am so that we didn't have any other cars right behind us and we almost didn’t until the last ten miles of the drive near the town of Torry.  There were pullouts which we took for some scenic views and to get our blood pressure down.  After going through the boulders near Boulder, Utah we drove through the Dixie Forest with snow, tall Birch bark Trees, Juniper Trees and lots of deer beside the road and on the road.  Almost hit one who could not decide which way to run.  Then we headed back down 10% grades to the town of Torry.

     Along the drive we had views of Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument, Dixie National Forest and it’s campgrounds, Fishlake National Forest and Capitol Reef off to the right.  We picked up route 24 east for about seven miles to the Visitor center of Capitol Reef National Park, which is known for its multi-hue rock layers and formations.  The park runs North to South in a narrow strip of scenic views and hikes.

    We stayed at the Fruita Campground in the park which I reviewed below.  It sits in the Fruita Historic District.  This was a Mormon settlement of eight families from the 1800’s until the park service took the land and the last family left in 1969.  They thrived here because the canyon walls protected the valley so that they could grow and harvest all kinds of fruit, vegetables and most of their orchards are still producing protected by the NPS.  Visitors are allowed to eat anything when they stroll through the orchards but must pay if they want to take some fruit out.  The orchards are next to the roads and campgrounds and the bakery on site uses the fruit to make the pies and other goodies.  The Gifford Farmhouse of the last settler here is part museum and a bakery that bakes everyday hundreds of pies with the local fruit and they almost always sell out.  The barn has three horses and a nice picnic area across the street.

     There are hikes from the campground and one must drive the Scenic Drive which is stunning and a number of hikes are off this road but those roads are not paved and any RV over 26ft cannot drive on them. 

    We stayed at this park for two nights and really enjoyed it.  We bought pies and apricot preserves that were delicious.  We met some nice campers here and attended a ranger talk at night.  A herd of deer comes down from the cliffs through the orchards, in the campground, and into the meadow next to our Loop A.  In the morning there were even six of them in our campsite but we counted over 30 of these mule deer in this herd and it just seemed to get bigger every time we saw them.  Great place to visit!

Friday, May 3 – Fruita Campground, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

   This campground is open year round located a mile from the Capitol Reef Visitor Center right on the Scenic Drive.  There are three loops A/B/C/ with 71 RV/tent sites.  No hookups but a picnic table and grill.  Located next to the Fremont River and under beautiful cottonwood trees for shade.  Cost is $10 and $5 with a senior pass.  The Fruita Historic District is right next to the campground so one can walk to the old barn, a one room school house, blacksmith shop, orchards and the historic Gifford House which is also a bakery.  The bakery sells homemade fruit pies everyday and other goodies.  Yum!   Lots of hikes within walking distance and along the Scenic Drive.  The Scenic Drive is a must and if you have an RV less than 26ft you can also drive the gravel roads in the canyons for more hiking.  We got there around 10 am and there was only two sites left in our Loop A.  The days we were there all loops were filled before noon.   They don’t take reservations so it’s a first come, first serve campground.  A herd and I mean herd over 30 mule deer feed in the morning and early evening in the campground and the meadow next to Loop A.  Deer can also be found feeding in the orchards near Loop C.  Great place to camp!
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Linda on

Karen--the term reef is interesting--is this where part of the ocean was millions of years ago?
It is a beautiful area--you have sure seen a lot this trip!

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