Thursday, January 5, 2012

Visiting Capitol Reef - Panorama Point

We stopped on the drive into Capitol Reef to get this photograph.

The town of Torrey, Utah is near the entrance of Capitol Reef, and that is where we spent the night after our day visiting three of Utah's state parks (Kodachrome Basin, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, and Anasazi State Park).  After breakfast at our motel, we drove into Capitol Reef National Park to spend part of the day.  I have driven through Capitol Reef before, but had never really explored the park.  What a wonderful surprise!  I loved the scenery, and there are many hiking opportunities.  I had planned for us to spend half the day at the park, have lunch, and then continue on to our next destination.  However, we became so enamored with this place, we lingered late into the day.

Scenery driving into Capitol Reef

Driving east into the park on Hwy. 24, we passed wonderful rock formations with beautiful colors.  The morning light made everything vibrant, and we were excited to start our day.  We stopped at Panorama Point to see the view, and ended up spending time clambering over the rocks and wandering out to the end of the narrow point.

Out on Panorama Point

My kids had a great time scampering over these rock formations, and are fortunately at an age where I wasn't too concerned they would get too close to the edge.  We ended up spending quite a bit of time here, and as the sun rose, the brisk breeze calmed, and we knew we were in for a beautiful day.

The guys at Panorama Point

From Highway 24, you will see the signs for the turn-off to Panorama Point.  It is a short drive to the parking area, and an even shorter walk to the viewing area.  Many visitors choose to return to their car and Hwy. 24 from the viewing area, but if you are more adventurous, wander out onto the rocks and spend a little time here.  The views are spectacular, and it is a very satisfying place to start the day.

View from Panorama Point - Capitol Reef National Park

As we left Panorama Point, we noticed a gravel road leading to the Goosenecks.  It was a short distance, and the road was in good condition, so we decided to take this detour before returning to Highway 24.  Sulphur Creek has carved deep into the canyon here, and while the site is smaller and less impressive than Dead Horse Point, we still enjoyed stopping and taking in the view from the overlook.  

Looking down into the Goosenecks of Sulphur Creek 

After leaving the Goosenecks, we returned to Highway 24 and continued on to the Visitor's Center. The day we visited Capitol Reef was a free entrance day at the park (can't complain about that!). We got advice on hikes from the rangers at the park, and then headed out for our first hike of the day. Stay tuned for more of our adventures in Capitol Reef!

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