Reef Madness 2015, Capitol Reef and Cathedral Valley

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter

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This is going to be a short trip report but if anyone has questions, feel free to ask.
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Our Facebook camping group, Colorado Teardrops and Tiny Trailer Campers (Colorado Campers for short) had our 2nd annual "Reef Madness" camping trip at Capitol Reef in October (Columbus Day weekend.) Last year we camped in the Fruita
Campground inside the park. While the Fruita Campground is gorgeous, the problem with it is that it is not reservable and it always fills up this time of year. As a result, we had to scrounge what sites we could find and ended up being
scattered all over the place.
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This year, we tried to reserve the group campsite that is just South of the Fruita Campground, but that is reserved by drawing and we didn't draw this weekend. So, instead we decided to go to a National Forest campground nearby. The
Sunglow Campground, just 1 mile North of the town of Bicknell and 19 miles from the Park HQ, was our site. There were two group campsites and we reserved them both. The Sunglow Campground is located in a beautiful red rock canyon and
the road dead ends at the campground, so we pretty much had it to ourselves for most of the weekend.
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We had a good showing, about 7 "camping units" which is to say, 6 small trailers and 1 RTT. I can't remember everybody's name, but then I'm terrible with names anyway!
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We arrived mid afternoon on Thursday the 8th and set up camp, pulling our T@B Clamshell, "Livia", followed shortly by several other campers. The Campground itself is basically a large dirt parking lot but it has some nice group fire
pits with benches around them. The weather was perfect, as it almost always is this time of year, with temps in the 60's and 70's and cooling off into the 40's at night.
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Our T@B Clamshell, "Livia" (before we put the Paha Que shelter up):
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If you're wondering about the "awning" that's actually the window, it pops out like that at an angle. Wife Liz makes the custom "awnings" for each trip we go on. This one was obviously an "autumn" themed one.
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The view from our "front porch":

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To be continued....
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
Friday we decided to do some hiking around the park. We had done Capitol Gorge and Hickman Natural Bridge last year so this year we decided to do Grand Wash Canyon, which is a little shorter. Grand Wash was a nice little walk through a
very narrow, dark canyon. It actually started off chilly enough to need a jacket but as soon as the sun came up high enough to illuminate the ground it heated up quickly. We were glad to be out of there a little after 1pm since any
later and it would have been miserably hot inside those canyon walls.
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We stopped back at the Fruita campground to pick fresh apples for our dessert. Just like last year, the local herd of deer was so used to people being around that they barely moved aside for us as we walked through the orchard.
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No telephoto, he was about 8' away from us.
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When we got back to the campsite we cleaned up the apples, mixed them with some Granny Smith apples we'd brought from home, cleaned and cut them up and then cooked them in the dutch oven with butter, cinnamon and brown sugar. They were a big
hit with everyone around the campfire.
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To be continued....
 
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Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
On Saturday we decided to drive down to Escalante to see spectacular UT Highway 12. This is truly one of the most amazing drives in the country. After a somewhat overpriced lunch at a local burger shack (that included some delicious
thick shakes), we returned to Sunglow, but this time we took the more scenic Devil's Backbone route going back to Boulder. This time of year is a little "past peak" for most of the Aspen trees but we did find a few stands that were
wearing thier beautiful golden autumn colors.
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Saturday night is usually our big group pot luck and this one didn't disappoint. We had a number of dutch-oven entrees and quite a few desserts and sat around the campfire as the sun sank
in the West.
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We were also treated to an awesome sunset, one of the best I've ever seen.
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To be continued...
 
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Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
Sunday was probably my favorite day. While a few of the campers decided to head home, there were three other hardy souls that decided we would tackle the Cathedral Valley 4wd road. This starts at Hartnet Road, just East of the park
entrance and winds up through the Northern part of the park, partially in BLM land and partially in the Park itself. The road starts off with a water crossing of the Fremont River that, while fairly mild (not more than 6 - 8" of water
this time of year) does tend to keep the cars, minivans and crossovers from tackling this route.
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Here we are going over the map before the water crossing:
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Ready to cross!
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Uh, No, you can't drive. Sorry.
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We were first across. View from our windshield:
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We all had well equipped 4x4s (My 4runner, an FJ Cruiser, a Jeep JKU, and a Chevy HD2500 4x4.)
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From the Fremont River the road winds though the scrub desert, gently rising.
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Along the way, we came across this old drilling rig, probably out there to drill water wells for some of the early residents. The rig was surprisingly intact and seems to have been there for years - I'd guess 50 - 60 years at least.
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Group photo!
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To be continued....
 
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Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
After this point, the road rises into some Bentonite hills.
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Bentonite is a reddish-gray clay that can become very slippery when wet.
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However, it was dry and gorgeous and we continued to rise up towards the edge of the Waterpocket fold.
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There were a number of side roads that took us to various "overlook" points, and we tried to explore them all. The last overlooks looked down on the aptly-named Cathedral Valley. We decided to descend down the switchbacks into the valley to see the Gypsum sinkhole.
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Cathedral Valley:
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Gypsum Sinkhole.
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To be continued...
 
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Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
Now at this point we could have continued on Cathedral valley road to the South into Caineville Wash and eventually it would have taken us back to the pavement at Caineville (20 miles East of the park.) But instead, we opted to head
West, up into the National Forest via Thousand Lakes mountain road. We continued to gain altutide, and as we did the views to the South and East only became more amazing. It also cooled off nicely, and the cool mountain air was a nice
contrast to the hot desert.
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Unfortunately my picture taking skills can't really do justice to any of this. We skirted around the Northern edge of the park, hitting a maximum altitude of (I believe) around 9,200'. Eventually this road descends the west side of the
mountains and hits the pavement at UT 72, North of Loa. From start to finish this was a little over 110 miles and a full day (9am to 6pm). I can definitely recommend this route to anybody who is in Capitol Reef. In addition, there are
several spurs and other trails in the area that you could explore as well if you wanted to spend more than a day here.
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We were too tired to cook so we settled for Pizza in Bicknell and burned the last of our firewood sitting around the campfire that night. It had been a great trip and I have to say that Capitol Reef continues to be one of my favorite
parks. I think it often gets overlooked because its more spectacular neighbors, Canyonlands, Arches, Zion and Bryce are more well known and are closer to major travel routes, but Capitol Reef is beautiful and spectacular in the same
way.
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I also have to say that I'm really enjoying the group of people we were camping with. Everyone has a great time and we all get along well. We've already got a bunch of camping trips planned for this year. If anyone's interested, we are on facebook, just look up "Colorado Teardrops and Tiny Trailer Campers" and ask to join.
 
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Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
BTW in case anyone's wondering, you don't really need 4wd to do the Cathedral Valley Road. As long as you can make it across the water crossing of the Fremont river, everything else is basically a dirt road. High clearance is probably a good idea, though, as is a real spare tire.
 
Thanks for sharing. I really like how you are able to attach that Paha Que shelter to your camper. Was it made specifically for that or did you have to fabricate a mount for it? I also really liked the idea of seasonal window awnings.
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
Thanks for sharing. I really like how you are able to attach that Paha Que shelter to your camper. Was it made specifically for that or did you have to fabricate a mount for it? I also really liked the idea of seasonal window awnings.
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The Paha Que shelter is made specifically for the T@B trailers. It will fit on any of the LG (Pleasant Valley) T@Bs. I don't know if it will fit on the older Dutchman T@Bs.
 
So that's what those beautiful aspens look like in fall. We were there in April not quite as pretty but I would agree one of the most beautiful drives Ive ever had.
 

shortbus4x4

Expedition Leader
Awesome pictures. Thanks for posting. Where did you get the US map on the side of your trailer? I've seen them before but always with the states as boring old primary colors.
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
Awesome pictures. Thanks for posting. Where did you get the US map on the side of your trailer? I've seen them before but always with the states as boring old primary colors.
We ordered ours from Amazon but I think they sell them at Camping World. I don't know if you can tell from the picture but the design for each state is that state's license plate. We're at 26 states now and will be adding WA this coming May!

EDITED TO ADD: Here's kind of a fuzzy closeup

map closeup.JPG
 
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SmoothLC

Explorer
Love it. CRNP is a great place to explore. And thanks for the tip on Sunglow. We have driven by that a number of times, but never checked it out. Looks like it would work in a pinch.
 

Weeds

Adventurer
We have been trying to get to this area for a couple of years. We appreciate the great pictures. Thanks.
 
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