Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Other Side of Spring Canyon: Sometimes You Just Have to Get Your Feet Wet


(Since we’re still sipping coffee in Tropic and I managed to finish this post, here it is, two in one day.)

On Sunday we did our last Capitol Reef hike. The previous week we hiked not quite halfway into Spring Canyon from the Chimney Rock trail, so this time we started a few miles east of the visitor center on the lower end. There is a paved pull-off for a few cars but we were the only ones there. The problem with this hike is there is no official trail, and to get in the canyon you have to cross the Fremont River, which means wading through about 10 feet of knee deep water. So we wore our water sandals in preparation but didn’t realize it would be so hard to locate the river crossing.


You can barely make out Bobbie in the brush. Yes, we walked through this wearing sandals. Both Jim and Bobbie had bloody legs by the time we got to the river. Some of us may have been having second thoughts.


Mark finally found a somewhat easy way to get down to the river, and he hurried across, shoes and all. He said he doesn’t mind hiking with wet feet. The rest of us followed along with no problem, other than very cold toes.

Torrey, UT, Capitol Reef NP October 20142

Once across, now we had to put on our socks and hiking shoes, not an easy task with no good place to sit. By this time almost an hour had passed since we parked the cars.


But after bushwacking our way through more heavy brush we entered Spring Canyon, a mostly level, wide, very scenic canyon filled with cottonwood trees, many of which were a brilliant shade of yellow.



Bobbie was trying to keep everyone quiet in hopes of seeing wildlife, but with our group of six that just wasn’t happening. We did see bighorn sheep and mountain lion tracks in the sand.


And colorful art in the water pools and mud.

Torrey, UT, Capitol Reef NP October 20141

We hoped to get close to where we turned around at the other end, but after almost six miles we still hadn’t come to the slot canyon we found from the other side. We kept thinking it was just around the next bend so we kept going.




When we came to a view of these rock spires we decided it was a good place for lunch and a good turn around point.


Since I forgot to make sandwiches and we had already eaten one of our Clif Bars, Jim and I went a little farther to see what was ahead while the rest of the group rested and ate. The wash became much rockier and we knew it was already going to be a long hike back so we didn’t continue on.

If Jim’s GPS was registering correctly we ended up with just over 13 miles. Except for tired feet and legs, we were all able to go that far because the canyon is a relatively easy place to hike. Much more like a walk in the park than Little Wild Horse. There were a few areas of soft sand and some rocks to scramble over but nothing too difficult. Well, there is that little issue of crossing the Fremont River, but it felt good taking off our shoes and going back through it on the way out.


And on the drive home we saw this herd of sheep not far from the road. We’ve been looking for them since we got to Capitol Reef.


What a nice way to end our stay here.



  1. What a wonderful treat at the end of the trail. Now that hike had a little bit of everything.

    Not sure we would have walked in sandals. We would have probably had our hiking boots, changed to sandals, and then back to hiking boots. That would have been a workout in its own.

  2. I love Spring Canyon and all the variety in the rocks. We've never made it all the way to the end. We might have to try going this way to see the end. The colors are so bright. Your photos are gorgeous. Don't you just love coming across a group sheep! They look at you with such a cute tilt to their heads. We followed a herd down the canyon the other day all the way to the Colorado River. We had to wait at one point while several ate on the path and others looked at us over the edge of the hill.

    Enjoy Kodachrome! Make sure you get to the Grosvenor Arch which is down a clay packed road outside the park. We couldn't get there because it has just rained and the clay was way too slippery even for four wheel drive.

  3. That darned herd of sheep ran right in front of me on the way out of the park yesterday! It was another "moose incident" as they were being chased by a bunch of photographers! I hit the brakes as hard as I could and braced for impact thinking it was not a matter of whether I was going to hit them, but rather how many. Somehow, by a miracle, the herd parted, as half took off across the road and the other half stayed behind to let me pass. Otherwise, it would not have been a happy ending to Capitol Reef! I am now haunted by the face in that last photo!

  4. Nice one! Your shot of everyone reshoeing is a crack up! We hiked into Spring Canyon from Chimney Rock Canyon back in May. How cool to see the hear of sheep!

  5. The colors and textures are wonderful - it looks like near-perfect weather! I much prefer to hike in the complete quiet, but know I would find it tempting to "share" the experience if I were with a group. Of course with a mountain lion that size in the area, a little noise is probably smart :-) Your photos are all spectacular, and the herd of sheep such a nice closing statement for your time in that beautiful location.

  6. That was a great hike… my toes are still pruney :)
    Box Canyon Mark