Joel's Journeys #20 - Escalante National Monument & Capitol Reef National Park

Submitted by Bubbling Sprin… on Wed, 10/28/2020 - 13:40
Waterfall formed by a rocky gulch with green trees below

This journey leads to one of the least crowded of the five national parks in Utah. Starting from Bryce Canyon National Park (blog #17) continue east on Utah Highway 12 to Lower Calf Creek Falls of Escalante National Monument. One of the most spectacular views in the monument is Calf Creek Falls. The hike is a mostly flat 6 miles but there is very little shade. After finishing the hike, continue on Highway 12 as it climbs to just below 10,000 feet where some of the best view points are. Highway 12 ends near the town of Torrey. Turn right on Utah Highway 24 and go 7.7 miles to Chimney Rock Trailhead in Capitol Reef National Park. This trail climbs steeply for a 600 foot gain before leveling off and giving fine views of the Red Chimney Rock. Farther into the park going east, you will soon see the huge white rock formation that resembles the capitol building and the reason the park is called Capitol Reef National Park.

From this point in the park on Highway 24, you have several options. One option is to go back the way you came. Another is to head east 80 miles on Highway 24 towards Interstate 70 in eastern Utah. At that point you will be close to some of the other spectacular national parks in Utah—Canyonlands and Arches. Stay tuned since these parks will be covered by future posts.

This trip is best in fall or even better in spring as temperatures in the park can be very hot in summer. The late summer and early fall are also the peak of the rain season and flash floods are common at this time of year.