The desert is the perfect cure for the mud-season fevers that set in after powder alerts expire. One of my favorite destinations is Capitol Reef National Park.
Last spring, I took a quick trip down to Capitol Reef with some weekend warrior friends. Just three and half hours south of Salt Lake City, it’s a stunning red-rock park without the crowds of Zion, or the numerous Jackson, Wyoming, 22 plates in Moab.
When we arrived at the Capitol Reef visitor’s center, we found ourselves in a mini oasis with orchard trees and old homesteads – an unusual site in red rock country. While this small green valley was beautiful, my friends and I decided to find a more desolate campsite to distance us from the RV hook-ups.
About 45 miles down a dirt road, we pitched our tent at the Cedar Mesa campsite. This left us just enough time for a sunset hike.
From a viewpoint, we saw Canyon Lands National Park in the far distance and the smell of desert calmed our stresses as we had finally made it out of the craze of the Tetons.
During our only full day in the park, we took a long day hike on the Muley Twist Trail. We chased cairns up rock faces, through washes, and past numerous arches. It was the perfect backcountry hike, without a soul in site.
There are various trailheads and ways to link this route together. We chose a satisfying 10-mile round-trip hike.
On our final day, a quick hike perched us on top of the stunning Cassidy Arch. Water and other natural elements bore a hole into the side of an exposed cliff, creating a natural bridge just wide enough to walk across. It was a perfect spot for our last Kodak moment in the desert.
A simple, yet unspoiled place, Capital Reef offers a great experience if you’re just passing through for a night, or want to spend a whole week.
Recommendations for Capitol Reef National Park:
Full day hike: The Muley Twist Trail, in and out as far as you’d like.
A quick visit: Make sure to drive through the Fruita Historic District and don’t miss the quick hike to the top of Cassidy Arch.
Where will you spend your mud-season?