Exploring the Backcountry in Capitol Reef National Park – A Photo Essay

The best kept secret among the Mighty Five of Utah’s national parks, Capitol Reef is no slouch when it comes to dynamic scenery and backcountry adventure. It is remote for sure. You will likely find yourself traversing the landscape on dusty dirt roads with names like Notom Bullfrog, Grand Wash, Burr Trail Road, and Strike Valley.

Following a lovely day at Goblin Valley State Park, on December 26, 2020 Paula and I spent the night in Torrey, Utah at the cozy Capitol Reef Resort, then set out for a day of exploration. We took in the Scenic Drive from the Visitor Center through Fruita to Grand Wash, then checked out the Goosenecks trail for precarious views into the Fremont River canyon. Wow was it cold there with howling wind. We huddled together to stay warm.

We drove more than 40 miles on the Notom Bullfrog Road through the heart of the magnificent Waterpocket Fold, then connected with Burr Trail Road to climb the switchbacks to the top of the western rim of the Fold. We drove three miles up the 4wd Strike Valley Road, attempting to reach Upper Muley Twist, but recent flash floods had made the full distance impassable. Darn!

We also wanted to visit Cathedral Valley, but were once again stymied by an impassable road. The park ranger told us even a 4wd vehicle would sink in deep, dry sand. Still, we had a lovely day reveling in the otherworldly geology found in this remarkable park. Don’t miss it if you find yourself nearby.

This gallery includes pictures from the Grand Wash, the Scenic Drive, the Goosenecks Trail, Notom Bullfrog Road, as well as Burr Trail and Strike Valley. At the end of the day my Subaru was covered with a layer of red dust, a sign we had a wonderful time. Enjoy the photos, and please feel free to comment.



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