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Posts Tagged ‘Capitol Reef National Park’

Epic in every way, our spring break trip to southern Utah edged to the extremes. Road trip? Check – 50 hours in the car round trip. Big scenery? Yup – hikes and vistas that envelope you in all their vastness. Crowds? Yes, our very own; we traveled as a group of 21! The Nices, Larsons, Coys, Hamptons, and Martin-Higgins families rounded out our herd of 10 adults and 11 kids/tweens/teens!

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Our Moab mob set to float down the Colorado River!

Traveling with a group presents its own brand of adventure. It helps to have a “chief” taking the lead on activity planning (thank you, Larsons!), a pre-arranged dinner schedule, and a healthy dose of patience and humor. Fortunately for us, this was easy for our group. For what you lack in flexibility with group travel, the fun multiplies exponentially when you get to hang out with great friends. A major plus: no whining from the kiddos on the hikes!

Vivian and Anna enjoy a quick shopping excursion in downtown Moab.

Vivian and Anna enjoy a quick shopping excursion in downtown Moab.

Moab, located in the southeastern corner of Utah, is the trifecta for outdoor recreation: 1. It’s super close to three national parks: Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and (my favorite) Arches. 2. The Colorado River tumbles through the middle of town. 3. The area is a mecca for mountain biking, thanks to its extensive trail system and sunny, arid weather. And….we did it all.

 

Chiseled, cliffy Golden Throne lords over Capitol Reef National Park in southern Utah.

A chiseled, stark monolith, Golden Throne lords over Capitol Reef National Park in southern Utah.

Because we had five families in our party, Mindy found the Moab Retreat House to rent. It was actually two spacious duplexes (connected through the garage) that sported three kitchens, eight bedrooms, 6.2 bathrooms, 2 livingrooms, 2 basement family rooms, and 2 great rooms (I know I sound like a realtor about now!) With 21 people it was lovely to have enough space to spread out. Situated near downtown Moab, it also had spectacular vistas of the red rocky hills.

The Capitol Reef sign melts into the landscape.

The Capitol Reef sign melts into the landscape.

 

We decided to detour on our second day of driving to Capitol Reef National Park. Although it tacked on an extra three hours in the car, it was worth it since it’s tucked deep in Utah’s canyon country, so remote we’d never see it otherwise. What a beautifully strange landscape of multihued rock layers.

 

All the kiddos, including William, were ready to shake loose after 17 hours in the car!

All the kiddos, including William, were ready to shake loose after 17 hours in the car!

Our group was pretty happy to spill out of our cars to hike the trail to Hickman Bridge. It was the perfect intro to a week of many more hikes in jaw-dropping scenery. We made a point of viewing Golden Throne and Capitol Dome, too, because who knows when we’ll back? Probably never.

We dwarfed under the grand Hickman Bridge at Capitol Reef.

We dwarfed under the grand Hickman Bridge at Capitol Reef.

 

The hottest day in Moab drew us to the Colorado River. It snakes through red rock country that was the backdrop for so many spaghetti western movies of the 1950’s and 60’s. The brilliant contrast of the orange rock formations against the turquoise blue sky was absolutely mesmerizing.

Recognize the red rock plateaus from old western movies?

Recognize the red rock plateaus from old western movies?

 

Our guided river raft tour didn’t thrill us with rushing and gushing white water. Instead it was a relaxing and scenic float that replenished our vitamin D! The guide in our boat looked like he was about 16….and we weren’t surprised to discover at the end of the trip it was his first-ever solo guided float!

Jason took the oars for a while -our newbie guide needed a break after rowing upstream to rescue Will's overboard baseball hat!

Jason took the oars for a while -our newbie guide needed a break after rowing upstream to rescue Will’s overboard baseball hat!

 

Soon the day arrived to shred the trails on Moab Brands. Unfortunately, Vivian was sick and had to miss the mountain biking extravaganza. William kept up as best he could on his fat-tired Schwinn but Jason and I felt invincible on our rental mountain bikes.

William about to embark on his first mountain bike adventure at Moab Brands.

William about to embark on his first mountain bike adventure at Moab Brands.

 

These bikes retail for a cool $3K and it’s no surprise. You can tear up the slick rock when you have supreme shocks and first-class tires! Cruising along, up and down, down and up, twisting and turning, trying not to spill – what a rush! It’s a vastly different experience than mountain biking on our gravel and dirt trails under towering pines in Central Oregon.

My first-ever selfie when I got separated from my group. I wasn't lost, but I wasn't 100% sure of my direction!

My first-ever selfie when I got separated from my group. I wasn’t lost, but I wasn’t 100% sure of my direction either!

 

Stay tuned for a separate post on Arches and Canyonlands National Parks – hopefully sooner than later! 😉

Final shot at Capitol Reef National Park's soaring spires and colorful cliffs.

Final shot at Capitol Reef National Park’s soaring spires and colorful cliffs.

 

 

 

 

 

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