Grand Wash – Capitol Reef NP

Torrey, UT

The Waterpocket Fold is a large uplift of rock covered in Navajo Sandstone that runs for a hundred miles north and south in this area of Utah.  The fold is the major and defining feature of Capitol Reef National Park.  Grand Wash is a famous gorge that cuts its way through the upper portion of the Waterpocket Fold.  The wash connects the Scenic Road inside the park to UT-24 just east of Spring Canyon.  You can hike the wash from either end or, if you have two vehicles park one at one end and drive to the other.  We parked along UT-24 and made it an in and out hike of six miles.

The trailhead along UT-24

The hike is very flat as you are walking in a wash the entire length.  It is fairly wide at either end but gets a bit tight in an area called the Narrow, about half way from either end.

Open area along the first part of the wash

The sides of the wash contain many interesting rock carvings created by the flow of water and the winds that blow through the canyon.

A young hiker photo-bombs our picture of a low arch

Entering the Narrow

As we hiked back through the Narrow on the return trip we found the long vertical lines formed by rock varnish very interesting.

Also on the return hike back down the wash we spotted a small arch high up on the cliff.  We missed it on the hike up as it was on a turn in the wash that made it difficult to spot hiking in that direction.  The arch is an example of why we like to hike a trail out and back.  On the return hike you always see things differently than on the hike out.

Along the walls of the wash there are numerous cuts where water has eroded a path through the rock.  Some of these cuts are quite wide at the base and form narrow tunnels up into the wall.

A cut in the canyon wall (Oh, photo-bombed again!)

In the wider areas of the wash large boulders have fallen from the canyon walls.  The soft sandstone has eroded, creating interesting holes and patterns in the rocks.

Erosion hole in a large boulder (That young hiker appears again!)

As we neared the trailhead in a wide section of the canyon we hiked on a narrow trail running along the wash.  Just before the trail exited back into the wash we spotted a short section that ran up to the side of the canyon.  Turns out it lead to a small section of artwork partially hidden by a boulder.

We had no idea there was any artwork along the wash and were surprised to find it.

Grand Wash is a nice hike for any level of hiker.  While it is not a difficult hike, you can go as far as you like and still see something of interest.

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15 Responses to Grand Wash – Capitol Reef NP

  1. Rebecca Salazar says:

    Love reading about your recent travels – we had just booked a 5 day stay in Torrey for October , so getting some great ideas !! Thanks !

  2. explorvistas says:

    You look like a kid on the playground, Pam! 🙂

  3. pmbweaver says:

    Something happened to the first photo. It says it is no longer available on flickr.
    HAHAHA….the photo-bomb is a hoot. The young hiker sure does get around.
    Now that is a trail we would really enjoy.

  4. Jeff says:

    Altho we have driven thru Capitol Reef, we have not had the opportunity to enjoy it’s offerings. Enjoyed this post and looking forward to more.

  5. Laurel says:

    What a beautiful hike (and very cute photobomber!). Although we always enjoy loop hikes, I agree that an out-and-back is great for seeing things that we miss on the first pass. We hiked a six-miler today in Buckskin Gulch and were soooo wishing you were with us……

    • placestheygo says:

      Which part of Buckskin Gulch did you hike, Laurel? We did Upper Buckskin Gulch while we were staying in Page. Next time out we will do some of Lower Buckskin. Glad you had a nice hike:) I’ll be watching for the blog…in the future:)

      • Laurel says:

        We started at Wire Pass Trailhead. It’s been on my list for years! It was one of the most beautiful slot canyon hikes we’ve ever done. I saw that you did Upper Buckskin — we’re debating about that or Birthday Arch today. :-))

      • placestheygo says:

        I hope you chose Birthday Arch. While not a hard hike, it was neat. Upper Buckskin did nothing for me really. Our next visit I want to do Wire Pass to Lower Buckskin.

  6. Gay says:

    I love the narrows. Joe doesn’t like in and out hikes…he prefers loops. I enjoy both! And agree the out is so different from the in.

  7. montanaclarks says:

    Mike prefers loops, I don’t care–we won’t be doing any hiking/walking today–it’s snowing again!

  8. Sherry says:

    Really loved that hike. Wonderful pictures although the first one wouldn’t load for me. Said it was “unavailable”. LOL at the photo bomber. Couldn’t agree more about in and out hikes. I really don’t feel like I’ve seen it all unless I go in both directions. I’ve even done that on loop hikes. Do it one way and then turn around and loop back.

  9. Jodee Gravel says:

    That photo bomber was so persistent!! Love the majesty of those canyon walls – just beautiful 🙂 What a great surprise to find such nice glyphs hiding on the rocks.

  10. geogypsy2u says:

    I so want to explore more of Capitol Reef. Gorgeous rock. Wonderful holes for framing photos.

  11. You are good petroglyph spotter! We missed that one.

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