Chris Roams

Travel, Adventures, and Photography

Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads.

I made it to Capitol Reef in time for sunset yesterday, another dud. Capitol Reef is an odd park, centered around an old fruit orchard hidden away in the Waterpocket Fold: a long series of ridges running north to south and providing a significant barrier to east/west travel in the region. The park itself is very narrow, running along one of the interior valleys of this fold. With the exception of a paved scenic road running 10 miles south from the visitor’s center most of the roads in the park a little more than dirt tracks. Even this paved road eventually turns to dirt and a deep water crossing discourages most travelers.

I on the other hand was discouraged by the approaching nightfall so I retreated back to pavement and continued west through Dixie National Forest and over some mountains whose name I don’t know. Even in the dark it is a stark contrast to the desert floors below: snow for a start, but also trees, lots of them, and big. It’s amazing what a little elevation (or in this case 9,600 feet of elevation) can do for the ecology.

I had planned to spend a night camped out in the mountains but all of the side roads were snowed in and closed off. Instead I ended up about 12 miles northeast of Escalante deep in a canyon along Calf Creek. This was probably for the best as it was chilly enough down along the creek and it could only have been worse up high, although camping in a canyon is also a double-edged sword: they provide shelter from the wind but also keep out the morning sun. Even with a late start I had to shake the frost off of everything.

This morning I finished the ride into town and picked up a backcountry permit to spend 2 nights in Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument. I plan to head down the Hole in the Rock road as far as I can make it on the bike (as far as the Hole in the Rock I hope) and assuming I don’t have to turn around before Coyote Gulch I will spend a night camped on the rim and then drop into the canyon on foot, possibly spending a night down there as well but hopefully completing the foot loop in a single day.
Capitol Reef - galleryMorning Frost - galleryCanyons of the Escalante - gallery