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Another Birthday in Capitol Reef

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.

Pectols Pyramid

A large spiral and squiggly snake petroglyph.

Snake & Spiral

I really liked these petroglyphs pecked into this darker stripe of patina.

Stripe Panel

A panel of small petroglyphs that Diane spotted.

Little Petroglyphs

Exploring another trail as the clouds finally started to clear out.

Exploring Capitol Reef

Along the trail we found this small but very cool yellow alcove that I stopped at to photograph.

Stained Glass

Yellow Alcove

Yellow Alcove II

The Cohab Canyon Trail

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 Wall Petroglyphs

Fremont Petroglyphs

Coyote & Sheep

Sheep & Spiral

Big Sheep Little Sheep

Big Sheep Little Sheep

Fremont Warrior

Fremont Warrior

Next we went for a quick hike into Grand Wash since we were driving past it on the Scenic Drive.

Grand Wash

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!

Road Closed

Following the closed road through a narrow section of the canyon.

Capitol Gorge Road

Following The Road

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.

Snow On The Road

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.

B.E. Evans 1882

Diane hikes ahead of me through the rocky gorge after the road ended.

Through The Gorge

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!”

Cass Hite Is A...

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.

EJ Hanks

Another of the oldest inscriptions we found was this one from Elmer Huntsman in 1883.

Elmer Huntsman 1883

M. Larson 1888

M. Larson 1888

After the Pioneer Register we continued on through the narrows of the canyon to The Tanks.

Narrow Canyon Hiking

Canyon View

Climbing out of the narrow canyon to The Tanks above.

Above The Gorge

One of the frozen tanks.

Icy Tank

There was also a small arch located here that is known as The Tanks Arch.

The Tanks Arch

Heading back up Capitol Gorge to the trailhead.

Diane In Capitol Gorge



On our way back we stopped for a quick photo of the petroglyphs found in the canyon, too.

Capitol Gorge Petroglyphs

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!

Panorama Point Sunset

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.

Chimney Rock Trail

The base of the Mummy Cliffs.

Below The Mesa

A view of Chimney Rock from the lower trail.

Chimney Rock

Following the trail up onto the mesa.

Climbing The Trail

From the edge of the mesa we had a great view over Sulphur Creek to Boulder Mountain.

Chimney Rock Mesa View

Descending off the mesa into Chimney Rock Canyon.

Chimney Rock Canyon

I liked this dark stripe on a large boulder next to the trail.

Boulder Stripe

Hiking through a wash at the base of the tall cliffs that make up part of Meeks Mesa.

Wash & Cliffs

One last view of Meeks Mesa before we descended back down to the trailhead and headed back home.

Meeks Mesa

>> Another Birthday in Capitol Reef Photo Gallery

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