After driving over Boulder Mountain, I stopped at Torrey, Utah to check out some cabins that I had heard about from friends called Cowboy Homestead Cabins. Some friends in Sedona had stayed there and highly recommended the place. So I asked if I could see them. I took some photos which are shown in the gallery below. The prices are amazing, and Trip Advisor reviews gives them consistently high ratings for those who can handle the remote location. There are only 4 cabins–2 with queen beds and 2 with king beds. They all have mini kitchens. They are located on a working ranch in a beautifully scenic area!
I continued on to Capitol Reef National Park 6 miles farther down the road. Anyone who knows me knows that Capitol Reef is one of my favorite parks in the system. I love the trails, geology, history, rock art, and the backcountry roads. If you visit in the fall, you can even enjoy some of the fruits and nuts from the orchards. In the spring, those same trees are covered in blossoms.
Capitol Reef has been inhabited for thousands of years. Rock art dating back approximately 2,000 years line the walls from a prehistoric culture known as the Fremont. Some spectacular specimens are easily viewed just past the Visitor Center along Hwy 24. You can read more about the Fremont Culture on the park’s site. There is evidence of even earlier Paleo-Indians dating back 12,000 years! When you see the Fremont River and the lovely area it flows through, it’s easy to see why it was it was inhabited.
Capitol Reef also has a pioneer history that is wonderfully on display. The first homestead in what is now the national park was settled by Latter-day Saint (Mormon) pioneer Nels Johnson and his family. After seeing the possibilities for agriculture in the area, others followed and the town of Fruita came into being. The lovely Gifford House still stands and is open as an interpretive exhibit of pioneer living much of the year. The Capitol Reef Natural History Association also sells local baked goods, preserves and handmade items there as well as in the Visitor Center. And I can attest to their yumminess—many times over! (I always feel good about buying from the natural history stores in parks. The profits stay in the park and help support the parks and their visitor services. I’m a member of several!)
Besides the Gifford House, you’ll find other buildings and artifacts from pioneer life in the park. Be sure to visit the park’s site for more information and stop at the Visitor Center when you arrive.
The park is a hiker’s dream! Whether you are interested in day hiking or backpacking, Capitol Reef has it all! This IS the desert, so you need to be well prepared. Water is rare is most areas—something to take into consideration when planning the time of year for your trip and the length of your hike. A backcountry permit is required for backpacking but it is free and is obtained at the Visitor Center. Your group cannot exceed 12 people. The rangers are extremely helpful; be sure to talk to them for tips and inside information.
There are also amazing roads here for exploring! I already mentioned the Burr Trail on my previous post, but there are more here that I can even begin to cover. The park has a great page to start. Some are paved, some definitely NOT; all are extremely scenic! You’ll want to check with the rangers for the road conditions—especially if there has been any inclement weather.
For hiking or driving, I have a favorite book that is fairly new and unlike other guide books, and it is ALL Capitol Reef! It is the Capitol Reef National Park: The Complete Hiking and Touring Guide by Rick Stinchfield.
From Capitol Reef, I head north and onto a new road and into new territory!