Wednesday, May 22, 2013

camping: capitol reef national park

Utah has five national parks - Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion and Capitol Reef - and we thought we should check another one of them out, now that hiking and camping season is upon us.  Capitol Reef is the least busy of the bunch so we set our sights there.  We'd been thinking of going two weekends ago but the weather forecast for that part of the state wasn't so good; when we readjusted for this past weekend, the forecast started strong (sunny and low 70s) and then deteriorated a bit (partly cloudy, chance of rain, mid-60s), but we decided to go anyway - we'd already made kennel reservations for B.

Singletree #21

The plan was to drive down in the morning to get there before noon, as it's only a 3.5 hour drive from Salt Lake City.  Once we got past Provo there was very little traffic and we enjoyed the farmland scenery of the Juab Valley.  Tiny Torrey is the gateway to Capitol Reef National Park: it's very cute, with outfitters, funky shops, a couple of bars/restaurants and cabins for rent.  Moab must have looked like that before it got discovered.  When we arrived at CRNP at 12 p.m., we were surprised to find that the campground was full.  I immediately started to fret about where we were going to stay, but H talked to one of the rangers who told us that there were two or three campgrounds about 22 miles away (11 miles back to Torrey then another 11 miles down Hwy. 12) in Dixie National Forest.  We headed up there and turned in at the first one we found, Singletree Campground.

It turned out to be a great campground.  There are 33 sites for either RVs or tents, with flush toilets but no showers or electrical hook-ups.  We got a good campsite ($10/night) with lots of big trees and lots of room between us and the next sites.  The campground host was a riot, a little old guy from Louisiana with a thick accent and firewood for sale.  We paid for two nights and started to set up camp and watched the weather.  The campground was up at about 8,300 feet elevation so it was pretty chilly: high 50s and windy, with the clouds moving in and out, but mostly in.  We did get rained on a little and had to sit it out in the truck for about an hour, but nothing got really wet.


We took a walk around the campground which, if there hadn't been so many clouds, would have had a view out over CRNP, and found lots of deer sign (but no actual deer).  H built a fire and we made dinner - steak, onions and peppers over couscous - and ate, huddled up to the campfire as the temperature dropped and the wind rose.  The cloud cover broke after dark and the moon and stars were lovely, but the chill and the wind drove us into the tent before we could do too much star-gazing.  Despite the wind and the rain, the tent held up just fine; it was a little cold, however, since the low ended up around 38 F and our tent is mostly mesh panels covered by a rain fly.  I wore two pairs of wool socks to bed and managed to stay mostly warm, a trick I learned last fall in the Uintas.  We fell asleep listening to the wind and looking forward to exploring the park.

A chilly evening to read

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