ATV, Jeep Adventures – Capitol Reef Country

January 22nd, 2014

Jeep - 4x4 experiences in Capitol Reef Country take the cake.

Hit the trails for the ride of your life on one of Capitol Reef Country’s amazing 4-wheel-drive trails. There’s a trail out there for everyone, from easy-on-the-axle Jeep roads to hardcore, rugged 4WD trails that bring out your inner adrenaline junkie.

Easy Jeep and ATV Trails
The beauty of Capitol Reef Country is in its diversity. Head deep into outlaw country on the Robber’s Roost trail, take a 4WD trip to “Mars” across the rugged red rock of the Planets to the Past trail, or let Angel Point trail’s heavenly views inspire you. These easy trails are great for beginners and families, are pretty well maintained, and are accessible year round.

Swing Arm City’s slightly more rugged and diverse terrain will add a little extra thrill to your ATV and Jeep excursion. The same with the final rocky miles of North Slope.  Geyser Peak is a maintained dirt trail designated for ATVs only—so it’s a good one for new or young riders—but the rest of these easy 4-wheel-drive trails are perfect for your Jeep adventures, too.

ATV adventures opportunities abound in this region.

Moderate ATV, Jeep, and Horseback Trails

Most of Capitol Reef Country’s moderately difficult trails are prime for ATVs and Jeeps, but equestrians can hit the Great Western Trail for an extremely scenic, rugged ride with views of Thousand Lakes and Parker Mountains. The fairly well maintained trail is accessible from the Velvet Ridge, Bulberry, or Hatchery Road staging areas. The Great Western Trail delivers a classic Wild West adventure on horseback.

Moonscapes and Goblins’ lunar landscape offers an out-of-this-world 4WD excursion for both ATVs and Jeeps, with views of Goblin Valley on the horizon. Velvet Ridge/Hell’s Hole is a moderate ATV trail with an extreme twist on the final mile to Hell’s Hole. The Class D Blue Bench trail is a designated 4-wheel drive trail—just make sure your vehicle can handle a couple feet of water over the occasional wash crossing. Other moderate Jeep and ATV trails in Capitol Reef Country include Burro Wash East, Lower Bowns/Oak Creek, Thousand Views Trail, and Tidwell Slopes.

Difficult ATV and Jeep Trails
Rough and tumble around Donkey Reservoir at the base of Boulder Mountain. This hardcore 4WD road leads to the beautiful lake, and the largest Ponderosa pine in Dixie National Forest. Keep an eye out for wildlife, too—you never know what’s around the next corner of this remote ATV and Jeep trail. Staging area is in Teasdale, about 6.8 miles from Donkey Reservoir.

Extreme ATV and Jeep Trails
It’s almost as if nature designed Poison Spring just for adrenaline junkies. If you’ve got hardcore off-road experience, you definitely won’t want to miss this 32-mile roundtrip thrill ride through some of Capitol Reef Country’s most extreme terrain!

Capitol Reef Country Interactive Trail Planner
Make the most of your Capitol Reef Country adventure with detailed trail information available on www.capitolreef.org/trails-search.html.  Use the dropdown menus to narrow your search by Jeep, ATV, or horseback trail, plus location and level of difficulty. Then plan your outdoor adventure complete with maps, trail tips and photos!

Spring in Capitol Reef Country

January 16th, 2014

Capital Reef

Hikers stand at overlook in Capitol Reef Country

The arrival of spring makes all of Capitol Reef Country perfect for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, camping, picnicking, horseback riding, ATV touring, fishing, and wildlife watching.  One of the great things about Capitol Reef Country is the wide elevation range, from around 4,300 feet to over 11,000 feet at the highest peak. Capitol Reef Country’s diverse elevation extends the seasons–spring starts early at the lower elevations in the east desert and works its way toward the higher elevations by May.

Spring comes early in Hanksville, which lies to the east of Capitol Reef National Park at an elevation of 4,300 feet. There’s a lot to explore in this high desert area, and spring is a good time to visit Hanksville-Burpee Dinosaur Quarry, Mars Desert Research Station, and explore nearby Horseshoe Canyon and Robber’s Roost (both located between Hanksville and Canyonlands National Park).

Wildlife Refuge

A view of the Bicknell Bottoms Wildlife Refuge

Capitol Reef National Park itself ranges between 6,000 and 9,000 feet. The climate is pretty arid in general but springtime is a wonderful time to experience the colorful, blooming flora. In April, the historic orchards of Fruita begin to flower, and wildflowers blanket the surrounding meadows, and the cottonwoods show new leafy growth. It’s a great time for wildlife watching, too, with the birth of new animals after a quiet winter. Spring is a good time to explore some of the major trails like Cassidy Arch and the Grand Wash. The Fremont River Overlook trail is ready for hiking in early March, just watch for ice in the shady spots of the trail. The closest town with amenities is Torrey, Capitol Reef’s gateway at 6,800 feet, a great little community filled with local charm and a tree-lined Main Street that leafs up in spring.

Bicknell Bottoms Wildlife Habitat is located about 17 miles west of Capitol Reef National Park, at around 7,123 feet. Visit these marshlands in the spring and you’re sure to see migrating birds taking a break from their long commute. Pine Creek and the Fremont River flow through part of Bicknell Bottoms, and as the waters get flowing with spring runoff it’s a great time to fish for rainbow and brown trout.

Fishing Utah

Fishing on the Fremont River

Just north of Bicknell, Thousand Lakes Mountain is known for its solitude, and in very early spring you can still take advantage of cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. April and May are a good time to begin heading up to its high elevation lakes (around 8,000 to 10,000 feet) for trout fishing, and hit the trails on foot, mountain bike, or ATV. A section of the Great Western Trail runs north-south across the mountain. May is a great time to fish in the Fremont River and many of the alpine mountain lakes on Boulder Mountain.

Horseback riding can be a spectacular experience in the spring.

A great way to experience Capitol Reef Country’s springtime diversity is with a scenic drive on Highway 24, which runs clear through from Loa to Hanskville. The 75-mile scenic drive traverses through Fishlake and Dixie National Forests, Capitol Reef National Park, the San Rafael Swell and the Henry Mountains.  Visit our community pages here to begin planning your home base while you explore spring in Capitol Reef Country.

Desert Flowers

Flowers decorate the high desert in Capitol Reef Country

Solitude in Capitol Reef Country

January 3rd, 2014

If there’s one thing you’re likely to stumble across in Capitol Reef Country, its peace and quiet. The scenically diverse landscape includes mountains, forests, and high desert defined by unbelievable sandstone formations, cliffs, canyons, lakes, and more—to create the haven of beauty, contrast, and solitude known as Capitol Reef Country.

Fremont River Trail View - Near Torrey, Utah

Capitol Reef Country’s highlands are dominated by mountains, forests and lakes perfect for wildlife viewing, fishing, hiking, and mountain biking. The Henry Mountains are the most remote mountain range on the Colorado plateau, and two million acres ranging from 3,700 feet to over 11,000 feet, you are sure to find a quiet spot. The Fremont River, Fish Lake, Johnson Reservoir, and Boulder Mountain’s high-altitude lakes, not to mention smaller creeks dotted throughout the mountains and forests, offer some of the most peaceful fishing experiences imaginable. Thousand Lakes Mountain, especially in the high alpine country, is renowned for its quiet solitude. Bird watchers can explore any of the quiet backcountry or head to Bicknell Bottoms Wildlife Refuge, so peaceful you never know what you might see.

Cooks Mesa

A hiker explores the Cooks Mesa trail just outside Capitol Reef National Park.

Within Dixie National Forest’s boundaries, Hell’s Backbone and Box Death Hollow Wilderness Area are some of the most remote and peaceful backcountry in Capitol Reef Country. Slickrock desert, pine and aspen forests, sheer vertical sandstone cliffs set the stage for quiet hikes, wildlife watching, and serene fishing in “The Box.”

Slot Canyon - Utah

Exploring one of the many slot canyons within Capitol Reef Country.

The eastern high desert has been carved with canyons, cliffs, gorges, and mesas. Here you’ll find some of the most out-of-this-world landscape you’ll ever see on earth, resembling Mars and the moon. Hike remote North or South Caineville Mesa trails for a quiet, other-worldly experience. The badlands and bentonite hills east of Hanksville are especially remote, and you’re not likely to run into other hikers. There are many quietly beautiful slot canyons waiting to be explored also, like the “Irish Slot Canyons” near Hanksville.

Mt. Ellen - Henry Mountains

Standing on Mt. Ellen at the top of the Henry Mountains with views in all directions.

Even Capitol Reef National Park delivers on solitude—it’s the least visited of Utah’s five national parks, but not because it’s lacking in scenic beauty and things to do. Quite the contrary, in fact; the “Land of the Sleeping Rainbow” is filled with beautiful, colorful contrasts of sandstone cliffs, arid deserts, and verdant riverbanks. Its sheer remoteness is the perfect setting for a quiet, peaceful getaway, especially in winter. Cathedral Valley is one of the most remote backcountry districts in Capitol Reef National Park, a vast, high desert landscape that sets the stage for its iconic sandstone monoliths.

Boulder Mountain - Dark Valley

A mountain lake in the Dark Valley region of Capitol Reef Country on Boulder Mountain.

Wherever you go in Capitol Reef Country, you can rest assured there is a quiet spot waiting just for you.

Learn more about Capitol Reef, The Henry Mountains, Boulder Mountain, and other areas of solitude in Capitol Reef Country.