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Fall Hikes for 2019

Fall Hikes for 2019

Posted in: Outdoor adventures on October 28, 2019.

Time to Hike

As we may have mentioned before, autumn is actually a pretty fantastic time to hang out in Capitol Reef. There are a lot fewer people in the off-season, and the weather is much cooler. So you can actually do more hiking in less time. And since there’s so much to explore in Capitol Reef, we at the Lodge at Red River Ranch thought we’d compile a quick list of our favorite autumn hikes, just for you.

Note: The thing to remember about Southern Utah, and therefore Capitol Reef, is that the area does get fairly chilly in the winter. (Unlike say, Southern Arizona.) But since the sun is almost always shinning here, it feels much warmer than the thermometer says it is. So the trick is to stay in the sun. Which is why for this list, we’ve picked hikes that aren’t in canyons or in lots of shade. Gotta chase that sun, baby!

A tree in the foreground with the large, distictive shape of Chimney Rock in the background.

Chimney Rock. Photo via iStock Photo.

Chimney Rock

This one is pretty famous. It’s located on the main highway, about a mile outside of the visitor center. The trail is moderately easy, with some fairly steep inclines at the beginning. At the top of the ridge you’ll get to see great views of both the Chimney Rock formation, and the Waterpocket Fold, and Goosenecks Canyon. The hike is relatively short, with a pretty big payoff, and lots of sunshine. Perfect fall hike.

A large sandstone monolith rises from the surrounding rocks

The view of Golden Throne. Photo by Red River Ranch.

Golden Throne

The Golden Throne Trail is not very long, but it is steep. During the heat of the summer, it can be tough going. But in the fall, where you can take your time without worrying about the temperature increasing too much, it’s a bit more fun. The trailhead begins in the Capitol Gorge Canyon, located on the scenic toll road of Capitol Reef. The Golden Throne Trail will take you to an overlook at the base of the Golden Throne – a huge monolith with a distinctive golden hue.

A large open desert area flanked by red cliffs

The Cathedral Valley Overlook. Photo by Red River Ranch.

Overlooks in Cathedral Valley

Cathedral Valley is the remote northern section of Capitol Reef National Park. And while both of these overlook hikes are short, it will take you a while to drive to them. So plan on a day trip. We’re specifically talking about the Cathedral Valley Overlook Trail and the Upper South Desert Overlook Trail. (They’re clearly marked by signage, and on the map that you should definitely take with you.) Both are only 0.4-mile long. And together they offer the best views in the Cathedral Valley – honestly. So take a long, autumn drive around the loop, and check out some great vistas!

Juniper trees in the foreground with a view of a canyon in the back

Looking back from the end of the Fremont Gorge Overlook. Photo by Red River Ranch.

Fremont Gorge Overlook Trail

This trail starts at the Blacksmith’s Shop, between the Visitor’s Center and the Gifford House, and it leads you across a high-desert plateau to a jaw-dropping view of the Fremont Gorge. It begins with a steep incline and ends with a steep incline, but for most of the trail, the walking is flat and easy. You’ll also get to see the iconic cliffs of Capitol Reef from a new perspective. And you’ll love the view of the gorge at the end. And, like everything on this list, the trail is almost completely shade free! So hopefully, it’ll be the perfect temperature.

Note: Even when hiking in the cooler months of autumn, it’s super important to bring enough water for everyone in the hiking party. And if you’re heading up to Cathedral Valley, make sure you have a high-clearance vehicle, preferably four-wheel drive. You do not want the be towed out of there!

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