Kodachrome to Capital Reef via the craziest road
Trip Start Jun 01, 2011
60Trip End Jul 31, 2011
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Drive U-12 down the Hogs back
We busted out around 9:30 – I was hoping for 9. Most of today's drive took us up Utah State Road 12 through some of the wildest landscape I’ve ever seen or driven through. This would have been very fun in a car, but with an RV attached, it was both hands firmly on the steering wheel. The first 30 miles between Cannonville and Escalante was not too bad. Mostly straight to slightly curving road through a canyon with green fields and ranchland on both sides. As the ranchland and fields give away, you know you’re either going uphill or downhill fast. This first portion was an uphill that was not so bad and then a downhill into Escalante
After Boulder we still had another 35 miles of this road before the cutoff to Capital Reef. And looking at the mountains ahead it was another major uphill on the way. However, this was much easier as the climb was long and not as steep; as was the decline on the other side. This part of the road was through a forest and not slick rock like the hogs back. I really felt like we were in Switzerland during this part of the journey – there were even cows around the road. One cow just stopped in the middle of the road and I had to wait on it – it just looked at me as why I was invading his space. Around the top of the mountain it started to rain. At least it did not rain on that crazy part of the road. The rain was just light and not too hard – good enough to give our truck and RV a little wash. Around noon we reached the small town of Torrey which is 10 miles from Capitol Reef National Park. Finally we are off that crazy SR 12 and now on a little tamer SR 24. For the 10 miles we went downhill. I just hope there is space at the campground or we’ll have to come back up this hill.
After 10 miles we turned into the Capitol Reef Visitors Center to see if there was any space. Lucky for us there was and they told me loop C had the larger spots
The Fruita Campground is one of the best of the trip. Besides sitting next to the orchard, there are huge trees that shade the entire place. It sits in-between some of the largest red rock mountains I have ever seen. Just a few feet away is the Freemont River and its trail. All this for $10 a night. Yes, there are no hook-ups but we can deal with that for a few days. The first thing we had to do at the campground was fill the tank up with water and there was only one water spigot in the whole place. As we were filling up it started to rain hard. As goes the “monsoon” weather in this part of Utah – during July and August it rains almost every afternoon. For electricity I could only run the gen from 8-10 in the morning and 6-8 in the evening
After a little lunch we hung out in the RV to wait out the afternoon rain. Then around 5 we took off in the truck to check out the VC for a bit and to do a trail. We had to drive about 3 miles back up the hill on SR 24 to get to the trailhead. We took the Chimney Rock Trail which was a 3.5 mile hike up on top of a mesa and around. Chimney Rock was like a large hoodoo that jutted out from this mesa. The trail was quite muddy due to today’s rains. The weather still looked ominous – many storm clouds were in the area. But we are only here a few days and the guidebook says this is one of the best in the area. So here we are, hiking up switchbacks to the top of this mesa. After hiking almost every day for over a month, the trail was not so bad. I think by now we have some good trail legs. Wish I did not have to lose them when I get back home but we don’t have the trails like we do here in the Southwest. The views were spectacular – a sea of red rocks, red mountains, and red soil for miles and miles with a think ribbon of road winding along the way. Light rain would come and go like a typical day in Wales. After our nice 2 hour walk with killer views we headed into Torrey which was 7 miles away. I was trying to find this Capital Reef Inn Restaurant that had great reviews in several books. First we found this General Store in town that stuffed a ton of stuff into one small space
Our dinner was at the Capitol Reef Inn and Restaurant. Just walking in the place gave you a good vibe. Outside was a garden with flagstone paths. Inside was a small gift store with hardwood floors. The restaurant was like a little dinner and we sat by the window in a soft cushion booth. One wall was painted with a petroglyphs type view of the area. Other walls had area artifacts on them. The food was outstanding just as the guidebooks said. For an appetizer I had a 10 veggie salad. For main meals, Pooh had a veggie stir fry with what she called “spices of the earth” and I had the best nachos ever with three different cheeses and more veggies on top. Overall one of the best places we have eaten at on this trip. A must visit if you’re ever in the nice town of Torrey.
After dinner we drive back to the RV. I took Quique with me to the night program at the amphitheater which was about astronomy. Great program, but too bad it was overcast outside to check out any of the stars we learned about. Back at the RV it was chill time until bed.