I added Capitol Reef to our Utah itinerary only because it’s so close to Arches and Canyonlands but it has turned out to be the surprise star of our trip. It combines all the colors, shapes and grandeur of Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce and Sedona, AZ to boot. Our day began driving from Torrey to Boulder via scenic byway Route 12 passing over Boulder Mountain at just above 9,600 feet. We passed through a brief snow squall but most of the drive featured wonderful vistas of parts of Capitol Reef and the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
After a brief stop at the Anasazi State Park Museum we descended through the stunning walls of the Grand Staircase via the Burr Trail Road. A brief rain shower only intensified the amazing colors and patterns of the canyon walls. Re-entering Capitol Reef, the paved road ended and we bounced along the next 35 miles on the washboard Notom-Bullfrog Road with its endless vistas of the Waterpocket Fold and Henry Mountains.
Returning to the Capitol Reef visitors’ center we spent over two hours doing the ten-mile Scenic Drive taking in still more mind-numbing views of the ever-changing reef colors and textures. Side trips via unpaved roads into Grand Wash and Capitol Gorge offered up perhaps the most grand views of the day. After dinner, as we sped back to our motel room we were treated to still another amazing sunset, as has been the case nearly every day of our trip.