National Park Road Trip Part 3: No Really, I Climbed That

Capital Reef National Park
Capital Reef National Park

From Zion to Bryce Canyon, I just couldn’t get my fill of natural, national wonders. And so we headed off toward Capital Reef National Park, first passing through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Now, it’s worth mentioning a few things here. First, it’s entirely possible you’ve never heard of Grand Staircase or Capital Reef — and that’s a profound shame. Both vast stretches of land encompass some of the most stunning landscapes in the country — I’m convinced. Second, if you have heard of them but never really cared about them, then, omigod what is WRONG with you?!?! Get thee to Southern Utah, STAT!

First we passed through a sliver of the 1.8 million acres of Grand Staircase, spending a spell hiking the Lower Calf Creek Falls trail. The drive alone, along Scenic Byway 12 is life-changing — I swear it.

Grand Staircase-Escalante
Grand Staircase-Escalante

We took pause for the night at the Rim Rock Inn, a none-too-lavish motel with million-dollar views. Our porch provided the perfect respite after a long day of driving and we celebrated our journey with a glass of vino and sunset vistas.

Rim Rock Inn
Motel with a view

Come morning, we drove into Capital Reef National Park. This narrow sliver of a park protects a 100-mile long wrinkle in the Earth’s crust. And oh, what a blemish it is! The scenery here, the violent jutting of the Earth’s crust toward the heavens, is so brutal, so visceral, it will make even the hard-hearted take pause and whisper a “thanks” to Mother Nature.

We set off on the Cohab Canyon hike, which after a heady and steep ascent takes you into the park’s famed slot canyons. These narrow wonders were a cool respite from the brutal Utah sun. Again, this might not be considered a doozy of a hike, but for me, it was an accomplishment. I climbed high, closed my eyes at the thousands of feet between me and flat ground and forged upward and onward. Proud to have done it scared. And with these photos, my Utah National Parks road trip is a wrap!

Cohab Canyon hike
Cohab Canyon hike at Capital Reef
Capital Reef
Capital Reef National Park, from the Cohab Canyon trail


  1. You have pretty much planned my next dozen fantasy vacations.

  2. Doing it scared! Hooray!

  3. Valerie Conners says:

    Three years later and yup, still doin’ it scared πŸ™‚ miss you so much!