Trailhead/start From the park visitor center, drive west on UT 24 for 3 miles to Chimney Rock trailhead.
Shuttle/end From the park visitor center, drive 9 miles east on UT 24, then turn south on Notom Rd. Continue 6.2 miles (road becomes dirt). Turn east at 5560 South/Pleasant Creek Diversion Rd. Go 1.6 miles and park in a turnoff overlooking Pleasant Creek.
Permits Free; pick up at the visitor center’s Backcountry desk.
Water You need carrying capacity for 2 gallons per person in warm weather and a filter to treat sometimes murky water. Our GPS track includes waypoints for potholes that are typically reliable, but sources can come and go.
Cautions Expect scrambling, difficult routefinding, and uncertain water sources. Never trust the rocks, which are loose. Cell reception is nil in the backcountry, so don’t count on a speedy rescue.
Key gear High-cut boots or ankle gaiters to repel grit; trekking poles; water shoes or sandals; 40-foot rope for pack hauling.
Season Spring is popular for wildflower seekers. Late September and early October see far fewer visitors, calm blue skies, and gold cottonwoods. Summer highs reach the 90s.
Maps USGS 7.5-minute topos: Twin Rocks, Fruita, Golden Throne, and Notom ($8 each, store.usgs.gov)
Info (435) 425-4111; nps.gov/care
Trip data Get a complete tracklog at backpacker.com/hikes/reef