Capitol Reef National Park: Backpacking

After discussing our backpacking options with a park ranger, we decided on a one-night trip through Spring Canyon. Some of the more ambitious routes we’d hoped to try were inaccessible due to flooding and road conditions. After a couple of morning hikes (mentioned in separate post), we loaded our packs and departed from the Chimney Rock trailhead around 3:00pm.

Route into Spring Canyon

We followed the Chimney Rock trail and a connection trail for several miles before reaching Spring Canyon. Although our route would lead us downstream, we decided to add a couple miles to the trip by first hiking upstream for a short while. We only ended up seeing two other people during our time in the canyon – a pair of day-hikers fleeing the afternoon storms. Even with ponchos and trash bags, we spent quite a bit of time cowering under rock crevices to stay dry.

Entering the canyon

Matt & Allison

Waiting out the rain

After a few hours of exploring, detouring, and backtracking, we decided to start looking for a campsite. I got this idea in my head that it would be fun to climb up out of the ~1000’ walls of the canyon and camp out on the rim…so poor Allison got dragged into a long and tedious climb. I say “dragged,” but she actually outpaced me most of the way (to be fair).

Halfway up the canyon wall

After 30-40 minutes of the mountain goat routine, we were rewarded with a flat, sheltered area overlooking the canyon below. I might have been sleeping outside the tent that night had we hauled the packs up there only to find some jagged, windswept rocks.

We still had an hour or so of daylight, so we pitched the tent, rigged a food line to keep away rodents, devoured our dinners, and took a few pictures.

Campsite, looking east

Cheese sandwich

I had to do a bit of climbing to get this one:

Best campsite ever

The next morning, we packed and set off around 8:00am. The climb down was a bit of a challenge, but it went rather quickly.

Climbing down from the rim

We hiked another ~5.5 miles down the canyon by noon, stopping periodically to take shelter when it rained.

Canyon floor

Canyon floor

The route was fairly easy, except for a few boulder-strewn sections and a narrow bypass trail along the rim of a deep slot canyon. We also had to wade barefoot through some moving water just before reaching the highway.

Scrambling through boulders

Slot canyon

One of the tricky sections

Although the hike technically ended at Highway 24, our car was parked another 7-8 miles down the road. The ranger who issued our permit had recommended hitchhiking back, so that’s what we did (sorry Mom…I had my KA-BAR close at hand though!). Twenty minutes and twenty cars later, a middle-aged man from southern California pulled over to give us a lift. We ended up back where we’d started around 12:30pm.

Approximate Total Distance: 14.0 miles (including highway walking and an estimate for backtracking and detours)

Published in: on May 24, 2011 at 2:26 am  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What a great hike! Fantastic campsite and beautiful surroundings – can’t ask for much more than that! The jealousy meter keeps going up!

  2. Thanks for sharing these pictures and stories! Can’t wait to do some of this with the boys when they get older (we will be leaving Kelli at home…and not taking pictures of some of the things we do!). I love your adventuresome spirit!

  3. Like…except the hitchhiking part!

  4. Haha, I remember hitch hiking for the first time… sounds scary but usually worked out really well!

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