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Boulder, CO

A guide to the wilderness of the West.

Capitol Reef- Grand Wash to Pleasant Creek

Trip Date: June 2-3
Miles: 37.5
Vertical: 3,000?
Permit Required?: Yes.  Free and no quota system; pick one up at the Visitor Center.
Maps: National Geographic Trails Illlustrated & GPS data from Trimble Outdoors (highly recommended)
Why Go? - Located in remote South-Central Utah, Capitol Reef National Park is one of the most unique desert landscapes in the world.  Capitol Reef seems to be a hidden gem for many and tends to take a back seat to the other world famous parks of the Colorado Plateau, i.e. no crowds!  This has quickly become my favorite destination in Utah.

The route described here is completely off trail outside of the entry/exit points and GPS is highly recommended (almost required without knowledge of the area).  The Waterpocket Fold is a complex system of washes, drainages, and steep sided canyons with no real obvious path of least resistance in many places.  This route was simply conceived by a local veteran, Steve Howe, working his way through the Fold upon numerous attempts of trial and error.  Waypoints for the route can be found here; these are your best bet for navigation, the TOPO map of the area is a mess of steep contours and canyons.  

Ascending multi-colored slick rock to the base of Ferns Nipple

Pano view from near Ferns Nipple

Sunrise from cowboy camp on an unnamed ridge in the middle of the Waterpocket Fold

Sunrise from cowboy camp on an unnamed ridge in the middle of the Waterpocket Fold

Another look (South) down the Waterpocket Fold

Another look (South) down the Waterpocket Fold

One of the many unnamed drainages/canyons in the interior of the Fold

One of the many unnamed drainages/canyons in the interior of the Fold