Capitol Reef Canyon with Stream

Streams flowing off Boulder Mountain have cut impressive gorges across the tilted rock layers of Waterpocket Fold in Capitol Reef. Our favorite off-the-beaten-path hikes follows one of these streams, ascending a gorgeous sandstone canyon. We will cross the stream several times, so you will want to bring “river shoes”. The nature of the canyon changes dramatically as the stream cuts its way across the tilted rocks layers. It begins as a broad canyon with occasional rock ledges, following a two-track to where the creek is diverted for irrigation. The first canyon walls appear with a tilted cliff of golden Page Sandstone. The canyon gets deeper as Navajo Sandstone ramps and cliffs rise to magestic heights. Of course, the scrambling up sandstone domes and exploring slot canyons are Keith’s favorite part of the hike. In places, the creek bottom is slickrock sandstone carved into magical fluted channelways and pouring over small waterfalls. Where the canyon cuts into ledges of the Kayenta Sandstone, the canyon widens dramatically with beautiful vistas of Navajo Sandstone massifs. In the Spring and Summer, the cottonwoods and other riparian vegetation are verdant and in October, golden. With cactus and other desert vegetation just a stone’s throw away, the wonders never cease. Enormous black boulders carried off Boulder Mountain by prehistoric floods add to the wonderment. When we feel that we have reached the half-way point, we will reverse our course a head back down the canyon to our vehicle; our route will diverge to take in other sites along the way. If time and energy allows, we might climb up a sandstone ramp to get an overview of the canyon.