Golden Throne and Sheets Canyon Hikes – Capitol Reef NP

Torrey, UT

For our first hike in the Torrey area we decided to head into Capitol Reef National Park.  After driving about ten miles down what is labeled a scenic drive, the pavement ended and we continued down a dirt road into a canyon.  Apparently this was the original road through the park until the road was re-routed in the 1960s.  We’re glad they did, as this road is narrow and winds through numerous sharp curves.

The road now ends at the trailhead for two hikes.  We took the trail leading to a rock formation called Golden Throne.  The hike was just four miles round trip, but the first two miles to the Golden Throne was all uphill, so it was a bit strenuous.

The beginning of the trail

The view of Golden Throne

The return hike was much easier, as gravity worked in our favor.  Once back at the trailhead, we decided to check out a part of the other hike that began there.  That hike continues up a wash that was once a continuation of the road that leads to the trailhead.  It went through a narrow canyon with steep walls on each side.  One of the sides had some petroglyphs, etchings on rock by ancient peoples.  Right next to the ancient art were more recent “petroglyphs” called the Pioneer Register.  The wall contained many signatures of settlers from the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.  One of the earliest, M. Larson’s signature from 1888 is pictured below.  Both sets of etchings are now considered historical.  But sign your name today and they call it graffiti and fine you two hundred fifty bucks!

The Pioneer Register

One of the many beautiful formations along the route back to Torrey

In the last blog we introduced you to Larry and Annette, friends who live in Torrey.  If you read that blog you know that Annette presented staff development programs in Pam’s school a few years ago and was the first to introduce us to life in a motorhome.  Saturday night they invited us to join them at a local establishment in Torrey called the Rim Rock Patio for pizza and beer while we listened to some live music.  Unfortunately, we were having so much fun we failed to take any pictures.  So the next day as we drove passed the Rim Rock we stopped to get a few photos.

The Rim Rock Patio

The patio where we sat

The view from the patio is priceless

The next day we were up bright and early and set out for another adventure.  OK, full disclosure time.  We didn’t get up very “early”  and it was just after noon before we set out!  As we passed through Capitol Reef NP on our way to a trailhead, we passed the small stone house pictured below.

Living in a 360 sq. ft. motorhome may seem a bit of a challenge, unless you compare it to life in  the Behunin family home!

A few miles from the cabin we turned off  the main road and headed south for twelve miles to the trailhead for Sheets Gulch.  The trail began with a hike of a little over a mile on a dry, sandy wash.  Walking in sand is a bit difficult so we try to avoid washes, but we had to do it on this trail so we could get to the fun part of the hike.

After a bit over a mile, the wash began to narrow and the footing became more solid.

In parts of the trail we had to lift a boulder or two out of our way.

We continued up the wash enjoying the great views and flat, solid footing.

Then the canyon narrowed and became a slot.

In a few places our path was impeded by what is called by some “chokestone.”  We needed to use all our superior hiking skills to get over these.

Get a good grip . .

. . . walk right up the slickrock . . .

. . . roll over the rock.  This last move is not found in any rock climbing books.

The nimble hiker copies “the roll”

The trail again became level as it continued up the canyon.

A description of this hike says you can continue as far as you like up the canyon for many miles.  After a little over three and a half miles we decided we had done enough and turned around.  Of course, now we had to maneuver back over the chokestones!

Hey, the roll worked coming up so why not use it again?

After defeating those rock obstacles (again), we continued through the colorful canyon.

If you like to hike through slot canyons, Sheets Gulch should be on your “to do” list.  Most of the trail is very easy and the rock scrambling adds a bit of challenge to the hike.  But bring plenty of water as the air here is extremely dry.  Today the relative humidity was in the single digits!

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14 Responses to Golden Throne and Sheets Canyon Hikes – Capitol Reef NP

  1. Lisa says:

    How wild to see that Class C driving through the canyon!

    Sheet Rocks looks like an awesome hike, that has to go on our “future hikes” list!

    We too are in single digit humidity levels. Going through lots of lotion and water…

  2. Gay and Joe Taylor says:

    What a great hike and pictures. That’s really up close and personal with the rocks! The picture after the nimble hiker copies the roll…of John in the slot…is quite interesting. The rocks look so smooth and sort of like a fan….cool! I am hoping we get to Canyon Reef NP while we are at Bryce.

  3. Who is that hunk standing in front of Golden Throne?
    I love the Pioneer Register. Makes me feel like I am right there with the early pioneers.
    What the heck good is a camera if you don’t use it? Oh dear.
    Ten people lived in that small house…egads. I would never had survived back then.
    For for Pete’s sake…where did you come up with the “rock roll?” But I guess it worked. Pam, your legs are just about not long enough for those rocks.
    Awesome surroundings. Yes, it is on our list. We will practice the “roll” before we go.

  4. Deb Dominick says:

    Who knew the two of you had such climbing skills? That looked like a lot of work! Thanks for exposing us to the unbelievable scenery of our west.

  5. cathy says:

    Great post! We hope to try some of our climbing “skills” in Utah, after we leave Yellowstone in October.

  6. Sue says:

    My god, Pam, the pictures are beautiful. I have to say I have copied your “butt crawls” today as we walked, not hiked, through a little wet slot at Best Friends. (oooh, its a little embarrassing to say wet slot) I’m inspired by your style, not pretty, but gets the job done. Noon sounds like a good start time to me. What is your hurry. I’ve never seen a golden throne….just a porcelain one. Don’t ask.

  7. Pam says:

    I almost felt dizzy looking at the photos of you doing the rock roll–I guess I am more comfortable with the musical version. Capitol Reef looks like another great place to explore.

  8. Allison says:

    Great photos! I love the Pioneer Register. We stood where you were two years ago. However, we did not do that cool slot canyon hike. I want to go back! The rock roll is very cool. I will remember it if we’re back in the area. Southern Utah is the most beautiful place. I’m very happy you’re been able to walk all over the area.

  9. Erin says:

    Relative humidity in single digits sound good to us! Thanks for showing us how to get over the chokestones … I’ll have to pin this post just so we can refer to the “how to” later 😉 Pioneer life sure was hard … we like “roughing it smoothly” … not sure how we would have fared back in those times. But I guess if you didn’t know differently, just having a bed would have been considered a luxury.

  10. Ingrid says:

    Glad I’m not the only one who forgets to take photos of our dining experiences. Love your hikes and all the pics. I’ve almost got hubby convinced to try some of those interesting hikes. As we get to travel and sleep in our luxury vehicles, can you imagine how hard life must have been for those pioneers? Hearty folks, for sure!

  11. LuAnn says:

    Great photos as always. I must admit to having a moment or two of thinking of Aron Ralston in “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” when seeing you two maneuver over the chokestones!

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