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Our Capitol Reef Grand Finale is The Grand Wash

Monday September 1, 2014
Fruita Campground
Capitol Reef National Park
Torrey Utah




This is sadly our last day in Capitol Reef National Park.  Everyone has said hike the Grand Wash trail and that’s what we do as our last hike.

The Grand Wash cuts through the Waterpocket Fold from the Scenic Drive to the point where the wash empties into the Freemont River.  To get to the trailhead you must go to 2.5 miles down the scenic Drive from the Campground and then down the Grand Wash Road which is dirt and is a part of the wash for  1.3 miles.

It’s just dawn when we start down the dirt road driving through mammoth stones lining  the wash. 

The road had been closed the first 3 days we were here because of heavy rains prior to our arrival.




We are again the only car in the parking lot when we start out on the trail.  LOVE IT!  Judging from the size of the parking lot, this is a very popular trail.  Sure glad we aren’t here during the summer or maybe even later today.




The hike is 4.5 miles round trip out and back.  In these pictures it looks pretty dim between these tall walls at this time of the morning.  It didn’t seem that way at the time.   As the canyon floor narrows, cliffs loom hundreds of feet overhead.





It isn’t too long before the sun begins to hit some of the formations and light them up.



He looks pretty small in this landscape doesn’t he?






It’s clear this 4.5 mile hike is going to take all day long with all the things to see both on the ground and towering above us.


The wash is quite varied in terms of how rocky it is and how wide.












Can’t you just imagine the little fishes swimming around in this area when it was under the sea?




You can almost not even see David he is so small compared to this landscape.



Because of the early morning and rising sun we both have trouble with things seeming to be washed out and the shots we want being taken into the bright light. David’s camera seems to do much better today than mine so you will see an uncustomary number of pictures with me in my “you can definitely find me” orange shirt.  Although I’m so small here you can’t even see it.




The canyon narrows and twists around.















Look at the number of other types of stone embedded in this rock. They almost look like fossils.





Who does this look like to you with his nose on the ground??





So much of this reminds me of the sea.  How about this giant oyster shell opened up. 



So like the sea caves we paddled through at Pictured Rocks National Seashore.




I’m a fair distance ahead when we come around this bend.  I decide to hide out and surprise David.  Which I do.






But I can’t get away with it twice.  He sees me go in here.  Still it’s a lovely view of the trail winding through the rocks.




I try it a third time but leave my hiking pole outside as a dead give away.  Oh Well.   Nice cool seat!












Doesn’t this look like a grand chocolate bar that someone covered with melted caramel?



This trail is so interesting that I’m gong to leave you on the caramel chocolate note and finish it up tomorrow.  Hope I didn’t make you too hungry.  Maybe a chocolate ice cream sundae with caramel sauce?  

This has been a very hard post to do because of all the pictures we took and how really fantastic a hike it was.   What to leave out is always the problem.   See you tomorrow for the rest of the story.


  1. I think you have just the right amount of photos today. Wonderful hike! You guys are in terrific shape. Sorry to see you leave this wonderful area.

  2. Bambi!? Anyway, that's what I see :) Again a beautiful hike, in a beautiful area. I bet you were sorry to head east.

  3. Looks great! I love this area of the country. We just got back from Olympic National Park. Equally as fantastic. The N. Parks are so fantastic.

  4. Yes, I agree this hike makes me want to start singing...."Under the sea, Under the sea..." ;o)) AMAZING!!!

  5. So amazing that a dry sandy environment screams a story of water. I see Flipper.

  6. It is such a magnificent landscape. You've made me want to visit this park for myself.

  7. Maybe we got up too early for the best light, but at least we did get to hike the wash all by ourselves. ;) That was fun!

  8. I thought the pics were great. . .makes me realize that when we get there, I want to get shots just as the sun is beginning to turn on to spotlight the spectacular. . .loved it all. . .

  9. When we were there one of the things that impressed me the most was the holes in the rocks with other rocks laying inside where they had been deposited by high water. I didn't see that in the pic that you posted. Some of the deposited rocks were 6 to 10 feet high off the ground. In fact I had difficulty getting the camera up high enough to take the picture. Remember the great Mouth rock shot? http://avintagerollingstone.blogspot.com/2014/05/if-you-have-seen-one-rock-you-have-seen.html Loved seeing this through your eyes too!

  10. At least this hike didn't present you with any of those tight slot walls. That should make up for the less than helpful light conditions. Still amazing scenery and formations, hard to imagine the time it took to create all that beautiful landscapes.

  11. Sherry we're still debating on which trail to hike tomorrow. The Grand Wash Trail was on our list, but you've done such a nice job with the pics and descriptions that it feels as though we've already hiked it.
    I've found that one of my biggest decisions when writing these blogs is how many pics to include. I've decided to just post a link to my Google+ album for the post, and figure that if readers are interested then they will take a look.
    Great pics again! Thanks.

  12. It's too late now, but there are remnants of olden dams still visible if you look close…mostly at the edges of Grand Wash. I believe it is at dam # 3…tho it could be #2.. if you look up to the left with binoculars as you are hiking downstream, you will see some pictographs up on the cliff face.If you are willing to scramble up over some boulders and loose rock there's a couple hundred yards of indian art tucked away out of sight. I'd say it was 3 or so miles down at least. FYI for next time…
    Box Canyon Mark, soon to be heading for Capital Reef...

  13. ditto Mark. I keep wanting to tell you things about this place, and then I realize that you are no longer there. So I am just enjoying your photos and so very glad that you chose Capitol Reef instead of some of the other more populated places on the Colorado Plateau.

    1. This is really the bummer about being so far behind in posting. I would love to have hunted for those pictographs Mark mentioned. Yes for next time, send all neat things about this place. We're thinking positive about coming back. Who knows. fingers crossed

  14. Once again, another beautiful hike! I love the way the water and the wind have carved away at the rocks, it makes the landscape so interesting.


  15. Very nice Sherry....I know what you mean about so many pictures, and also how to capture and describe the rock formations you come across on these adventures. You did a great job. --Dave (GoingRvWay.com)

  16. Great hike. Those red rocks can be a picture taking challenge without the right light. Sometimes the light is your friend other times it seems you have to fight for every shot.

  17. How wonderful to have the place all to yourself. The advantage of being early birds. Will be anxious to see the rest and to see how full the parking lot is when you return.

  18. I need to go inside and make myself a sundae. Oh wait ... no ice cream. Great hike.

  19. It looked like a dolphin to me..maybe that was all your references to fishes and the sea :) What a wonderland! Neat colors and shapes and fun spots. No wonder the trail is popular!!

  20. Wow! What a cool place to play hide and seek! The white long rocks with the others look like bones of a giant animal of some sort. The colors are amazing even though you said that they were really better than your camera showed. xxxooo

  21. I definitely get the under water feeling as well. The oyster shell is awesome - even has some little white pearls! I see a snake face with a dolphin behind it, with her nose in the sand. Hikes in flat terrain are sometimes boring, but that cannot be said of this magical place! We will absolutely make this one a priority when in the area!!

  22. Another WOW! Cant say anything more except to say, I itching really hard to follow your footsteps.

  23. Now that you mention it, I can imagine what this landscape looked like when it was underwater. I completely understand what you mean about the light -- the red rock country is difficult to capture if the light isn't just right. Nonetheless, you did a wonderful job of showing the beauty of this hike. (I'm finally getting to catch up with your blog after a few days without internet!)


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