After having been in a tent in the snow and without a shower for the previous couple of nights – I was pretty pumped about getting a shower. Don’t get me wrong – I would have gladly stayed longer if we’d had reason, but since we were carrying on from here, there was NO reason not be excited about it.
From Hanksville, it only took us about an hour to get to Capitol Reef National Park, and the town of Torrey. We had a little bit of daylight left but but not enough to venture very far. As you pull into Capitol Reef, past the entrance, there’s a parking lot and a boardwalk trail right off of the road that is very easy to access. It features some of the pictographs and petroglyphs by Fremont Indians.
The town of Torrey is small. There are a few motels and an outfitter and a lodge. We do not get hotel reservations on these trips as we like to keep our itinerary as flexible as possible. Also, we like to keep lodging costs down and spend our money elsewhere. That said, we had 2 choices by the time we were ready to settle in, and we stopped at the first one we came to. The Noor Hotel at Capitol Reef. While it was not in any way fancy our luxurious, it was nice and the owners were kind and accommodating. They seemed genuinely interested in our travels and our comfort while we stayed with them.
The next morning, we set out to explore more of Capitol Reef. Restaurants are scarce in this town, but we scored an outstanding breakfast spread at the Pioneer Kitchen. I have to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. We did notice that there were a lot of outdoor adventure guide trips that met here, and that seemed like a good sign. The coffee was excellent, and I had a massive omelet with homemade Salsa, that the chef/cook makes fresh daily. I know this because his wife was our server and she told us when I raved to her about it.
After breakfast we set out to explore Capitol Reef and a register of Pioneer settlers (the very last stop on that link).
“Mormon pioneers took eight days in 1884 to clear the first road through the Gorge, and settlers had to remove heavy debris after every flash flood. Early travelers recorded their passage on the canyon walls at the Pioneer Register. The road was closed in 1962 when Utah Highway 24 was paved through the Fremont River corridor.”
There’s a $20 per car fee that is to be paid at a slot box at the beginning of this scenic route. We traveled about 15 minutes before we hit a solid sheet of ice on the road and turned back.
We decided to make our way to our next stop in Bryce Canyon which was about a 2.5 hour drive if you go straight there. All of the drives around this part of Utah are incredibly scenic. Also, there are some interesting sights to see that make the trip fun. Such as this one:
We (meaning Eagle eye Shannon) also passed some Tundra Swans swimming on a lake a good way off the road. Neither of us had ever seen one before so it was a big event for us
We wouldn’t have seen those tundra swans at all of we hadn’t gotten a little bit lost. Somehow we’d made a wrong turn and ended up in the town of Panguitch. Ever heard of it? Me neither. There are beautiful mountain ranges that snake in and out of this drive, so I”m sure we were either distracted by the mountains or “thought we’d try this road” because the scenery ….
We wanted to stop at the Dixie National Forest visitor center which is a little ways past our next destination at Bryce Canyon, but as the visitor center museum is one that Shannon had helped build, we decided to trek over to see it before going back through Bryce. The drive features these cool tunnels and changing landscapes that are divine.
Unfortunately, the Visitor Center was closed and we were reduced to looking in the windows. Yes, we could have called to check, but I wanted to see it even if from the windows.
From here, I got my first visit to my favorite of all the parks, Bryce Canyon. That’s up next!