Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument & Capitol Reef National Park

When we left Bryce we never expected that the following areas became soooooo lonely: Only a few tiny towns on our way, less gas stations and campgrounds, rudimental little groceries and no signal. Don’t talk about luxury wifi or showers … We continued on the scenic All-American-Highway 12 and entered the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Our destination was the Lower Calf Creek Falls east of Escalante. The amazing pictures we had seen convinced us to do that six miles hike round trip to that falls.

We arrived late afternoon at the Calf Creek Campground and decided to go the falls next morning. At 7:00 we got up, but rainfall let us stay in our van. It cleared up at 9:00 and it became the brightest day. Hiking deeper and deeper into the green canyon with the spectacular cliffs surrounding was gorgeous. Then the trail ends at a 120 feet high waterfall in the middle of a stone desert. This was a very special place and we spent nearly two hours there admiring the nature.

There was a pool and it invited us to go swimming in the cold water. It was pretty hot and so it fitted perfectly. On the campground we met a nice about sixty year old couple from Bavaria in Germany. They also shipped an old fire truck (but a much bigger one) from Europe to US. Their destination is South America too. We shared our travel stories and then a Swiss couple arrived with their shipped Defender 4WD, also destination South America. It was fun to meet some neighbors on the same campground.

At evening we grilled some brats and did another refreshing bath in the creek at our campground. Next morning we went on, passed the Dixie National Forest again, entered the Capitol Reef National Park and fixed a site at the Fruita Campground. This valley is a green oasis in the middle of the desert with a variety of fruit trees in the orchard. It’s free to eat seasonal fruits there. We took plenty apples, peaches and pears for a nominal fee with us. A big vitamin shock for the next days!

It was early afternoon and so we decided to go south at the scenic drive and to do a little hike. The graveled Capitol Gorge Road into the canyon is gorgeous. By feet we went on at the Capitol Gorge Trail to The Tanks, about two miles round trip. You follow a canyon and you can find some petroglyphs from the Indian Americans, who lived there about 300 to 1300 Common Era. There are also some carvings of the early pioneers from the 1880s.

Within 15 minutes the weather changed and thunder with rain occurred. Hail hit our heads and we couldn’t see shelter anywhere. Afraid of flash floods in the narrow canyon we returned to the parking lot. As fast as it appears, as fast it was gone again. At evening we set our historical marker: We grilled the best steak we’ve ever had! Best quality meat!

Next morning we headed east, stopped at the Petroglyph Panel, harvested some peaches and hiked a 2,2 mile round trip to the Hickman Bridge. This natural stone bridge is 133 feet (40m) long and 125 feet (37m) high. Very impressing! Going east on Highway 24 our next destination was the Natural Bridges National Park.

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