Capitol Reef National Park
Panorama Point is not really a trail, but a viewpoint reached from a parking area. The well-worn slickrock ascends 35 feet to a spectacular 360 degree viewing area less than 200 yards away. From here it’s easy to climb up and down the adjoining slickrock outcroppings.
Goosenecks Point is accessible from just beyond the parking area of Panorama Point along the gravel road pictured in my first photo.
For some reason we start walking up the gravel road, thinking that the Overlook is not far. But we don’t see any other hikers and the bends in the road just lead to more bends in the road. The outcroppings of Panorama Point rise gently before us and offer us a shortcut back to our car, when we finally decide to turn around and drive up the dirt road instead.
Retrace our steps or take the shortcut?
We opt for the easy way out…
We drive the rut-riddled gravel and dirt road for a mile until it ends at another parking lot.
The “trail” to the Overlook at Goosenecks Point is only 600 feet-long leading to an impressive view of Sulphur Creek snaking its way, through the canyon of the same name, 800 feet below. The stream has carved a deep and multi-colored gorge that includes 3 separate layers of rock: the Moenkopi formation, Kaibab Limestone, and White Rim Sandstone. (liveandlethike.com)
The Sunset Point trail is also accessible from the Goosenecks parking lot. As the name implies, the best time to hike this 1/3 mile trek is about an hour before the sun starts setting.
Pinyon and juniper trees line the red, rocky trail. About a quarter-mile in, the ridge to the south overlooks Sulphur Creek 600-feet below.
The trail ends at the eastern tip of the ridge where, at the end of the day, the sun highlights the colorful layers of the Capitol Reef.
But even without a sunset, the views are quite breathtaking!
The rock below, at the end of the trail, catches my attention. Doesn’t it look like it is shattered with enormous bullet holes?
The Hickman Bridge Trail is a 2 mile round trip hike to a natural bridge. After ascending through a scenic sandstone side-canyon, the high desert trail loops under the 133-foot span of the arch of the bridge.
We walk along the bubbling Fremont River before arriving at the trailhead.
The large black boulder looks out of place in the picture below. According to nps.gov these volcanic rocks came from 20 to 25 million-year-old lava flows from Boulder and Thousand Lakes Mountains.
The views of the trail and our surroundings are incredible as we climb in the midday heat.
Stopping to take pictures is a good excuse to catch our breath!
Shade is a scarcity in the high desert.
We finally arrive… so hot and thirsty and craving for shade…
The sun reflects off the white rocks as we take the loop.
Can you spot the natural bridge?
It’s shady, cool, breezy, and beautiful here!
Do you know the difference between an arch and a bridge?
Both geological terms refer to naturally occurring spans of stone sculpted by ice, water, wind, rockfall, and other erosive processes. A bridge is carved from flowing water. An arch is formed by natural activities other than flowing water. (nps.gov)
But soon it’s time to leave and complete the loop. Solution cavities, called tafoni or honeycomb weathering, can be seen in many rock surfaces. (nps.gov)
Each layer of rock has its own story to share. Notice the vertical split along the horizontal ridges of the rock below.
We approach the other side of the bridge.
Can you find the teeny tiny patch of blue peaking out from the top of this rock formation?
We rest here on our way back in this Picasso-esque alcove. Shade and breezy blasts refresh us as we sit on the rocks and eat apples.
Looming directly overhead, however, is a precarious balancing rock…
We relinquish our cool spot to a 3-generation trio of women and head back down to shade, air-conditioning and more water.