Saturday & Sunday, February 9-10, 2019
I don’t spend as much time in Capitol Reef National Park as I would like, but for some reason it seems like I frequently end up here around my birthday in February. Two years ago Diane and I spent the weekend closest to my birthday in Capitol Reef (I did that in 2010, too), and I decided earlier this year that I wanted to go back and do it again! We left home early on Saturday morning and spent the rest of the weekend hiking trails around the Fruita Historic District that are typically pretty busy during the rest of the year and we saw almost no one else all weekend. We found some new rock art and took plenty of photos along the way.
When we first arrived in the park on Saturday morning the sky was pretty overcast as we hiked past this overlook of Pectols Pyramid. I was hoping the sky would clear out a little later in the morning and it eventually did.
A large spiral and squiggly snake petroglyph.
I really liked these petroglyphs pecked into this darker stripe of patina.
A panel of small petroglyphs that Diane spotted.
Exploring another trail as the clouds finally started to clear out.
Along the trail we found this small but very cool yellow alcove that I stopped at to photograph.
The Cohab Canyon Trail
Last year my friend Jared had tipped me off about a large panel of petroglyphs that I had not been to, so we went out looking for those. It turned out to be a pretty awesome panel!
Big Sheep Little Sheep
Next we went for a quick hike into Grand Wash since we were driving past it on the Scenic Drive.
We arrived at the entrance to Capitol Gorge late in the day, but the road into the gorge was closed because of snow and ice. I had really wanted to hike the Golden Throne Trail for sunset this evening, but we were running out of time and this closure added another four or five miles to the hike, so we decided to skip it this time and just hike down the closed road to the Pioneer Register and The Tanks instead. I will have to return for the Golden Throne Trail another time, but at least we had the gorge to ourselves this evening!
Following the closed road through a narrow section of the canyon.
Snow on the road in Capitol Gorge. There were no other tracks in the snow, so we were the first to hike into the canyon since the last storm.
B.E. Evans 1882 // This was the oldest inscription we found in the canyon and it wasn’t near the Pioneer Register. You’ll also notice an inscription to the left from E.F. Behunin, a familiar surname in this area.
Diane hikes ahead of me through the rocky gorge after the road ended.
We eventually reached the Pioneer Register which contains many old inscriptions from the late 1800’s including this interesting one that says “Cass Hite Is A…” followed by the pecked outline of a horse and a man face to rear. In other words- “Cass Hite Is A horse’s ass!”
This undated inscription from EJ Hanks (EJH) could have possibly been left by Sgt. Ebenezer Joseph Hanks who was born on my birthday (February 11th) in 1815 and was an early settler and the namesake of the nearby town of Hanksville.
Another of the oldest inscriptions we found was this one from Elmer Huntsman in 1883.
M. Larson 1888
After the Pioneer Register we continued on through the narrows of the canyon to The Tanks.
Climbing out of the narrow canyon to The Tanks above.
One of the frozen tanks.
There was also a small arch located here that is known as The Tanks Arch.
Heading back up Capitol Gorge to the trailhead.
On our way back we stopped for a quick photo of the petroglyphs found in the canyon, too.
After returning to my Jeep we headed back to Torrey for dinner when Diane noticed the color in the sky behind us was looking really nice over the Henry Mountains, so I quickly stopped at Panorama Point for a quick photo before the light disappeared. It was a great view to end our first day at Capitol Reef!
On Sunday morning we were up early and headed over to the Chimney Rock Trailhead so we could hike the Chimney Rock Trail before starting our drive back home. The weather forecast was calling for very windy conditions today but it stayed nice and calm out during our hike. However, as soon as we started driving home the wind really picked up and stayed that way throughout the rest of the day. I’m glad we were off the trail by then! This was a nice loop trail with great views, but I think it would be more scenic in the late afternoon rather than the early morning.
Starting our hike on the Chimney Rock Trail shortly after the sunrise.
The base of the Mummy Cliffs.
A view of Chimney Rock from the lower trail.
Following the trail up onto the mesa.
From the edge of the mesa we had a great view over Sulphur Creek to Boulder Mountain.
Descending off the mesa into Chimney Rock Canyon.
I liked this dark stripe on a large boulder next to the trail.
Hiking through a wash at the base of the tall cliffs that make up part of Meeks Mesa.
One last view of Meeks Mesa before we descended back down to the trailhead and headed back home.