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National Parks: Capitol Reef

Discover a private paradise by crossing the park’s convoluted Waterpocket Fold.

You don’t need to tackle Capitol Reef’s hardest terrain to see some of its best scenery. This 10-mile, cathedral-like hallway combines easy canyon hiking and foolproof routefinding (there’s only one way to go) with life-list sights, like lush cottonwoods backdropped by massive sandstone amphitheaters. From the Chimney Rock trailhead, good trail leads into the deep cleft of Chimney Rock Canyon. At mile 2.9 you intersect Spring Canyon and hang a right, leaving the maintained path behind. In a mile, the wash drops through a slot canyon. Explore it until an abrupt, sketchy downclimb; detour around on a trail along the left/north rim of the narrows. The wash-bottom route continues past overhanging cliffs to a spring with good water at mile 6.5. Continue beneath towering cottonwoods until you ford the Fremont River (usually knee to thigh deep) and pop out on UT 24. Leave a shuttle car here, or you can hitch or bike the seven-mile return west to the trailhead (but cyclists must finish with a steep, three-mile hill climb). Trip ID 1073088

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