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National Parks: Capitol Reef

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

BEST WEEKEND: CAPITOL GORGE TO PLEASANT CREEK
campsites sit in the broad slickrock bowls between Capitol Gorge and Pleasant Creek. Exploring this country requires routefinding southward from the eastern park boundary in lower Capitol Gorge, up along anonymous piñon-juniper ridgelines, and past superb viewpoints of the Waterpocket Fold’s amazing geology. There’s no trail, but it’s a relatively short distance, with no hazards (if you encounter any technical terrain, you’re off route). After just two miles, break out onto naked slickrock, where you can wander almost at will, searching for flat tent sites, small ponderosa groves, and clear-water potholes. It’s easy to follow the stony saddles southward. Most highpoints offer superb vistas along the Reef, or southeast toward the distant Henry Mountains. Take extra food. You won’t want to leave. Find our favorite site here: 12S 0486158E 4227575N. Download the tracklog at backpacker.com/hikes/1079393.

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