Day 14 - Moab, UT - Green River - Hanksville - Capitol Reef NM - Torrey, UT

This morning we packed up the car again and then everyone had breakfast. There is no "direct" route to Hanksville and Capitol Reef from Moab; Canyonlands and the rivers that created the deep canyons make a huge barrier. We had decided on the northern route, through Green River, instead of the southern route through Monticello and Bluff. This meant that we had to drive north out of Moab to the interstate, west to Green River and then south along the western edge of Canyonlands, between the canyons and the San Rafael Swell. We drove south until we reached Hanksville. Then we turned west toward Capitol Reef National Park. It was painful passing so many places we would have liked to investigate, but we were now on a strict schedule and had to be in San Dimas to meet Robert and his family for the Fourth of July. Therefore, reluctantly, we drove on to Hanksville and turned west.

Mudhills and bluffs

However, just west of Hanksville lie some spectacular "badlands", or mudhills, where Steve and I have photographed many times. Factory Butte is one of the most famous of these, but we have more often photographed those along the highway. Today we stopped by our favorite mudhills so that Steve and I could photograph while the kids explored. There was a new feature at my favorite spot, an abandoned concrete truck. I took advantage of that addition to the scene to make some new photographs here while Steve wandered elsewhere losing himself again in the geometry and color patterns. After I had finished my photographing, Steve was still deeply engrossed in the mudhills. I wandered slowly back to the Prev and noticed a bird that I couldn't identify perched on the telephone wires. I dug out my bird book from the depths of the Prev and worked on the identification. It was a kingbird watching us.

My Favorite Mudhill

While we waited for Steve to emerge, Kathy and I decided that it would be best if we went through Capitol Reef to Torrey and check in at our motel, and have lunch, leaving us the rest of the day to explore the park without worrying about time. When Steve finally returned, we all agreed on this plan. Of course, this did not mean that we would not stop at any pullouts along the way to Torrey, which we did at several of the pullouts for petroglyphs. At the motel, we got checked in quickly, leaving the luggage in the room (and more room in the Prev!). Then we headed to the motel restaurant for lunch. It took a while to get seated, but that was nothing compared to the wait to have our orders taken! We became more and more agitated as we watched people who were seated after we were, have their order taken before us. Finally our orders were taken, but that did not mean that the food came quickly. This was all very hard on Daniel, whose patience with confinement is nearly zero as it is. We all wanted to get outside again, back in the landscape. At last our food came. We ate quickly, almost the only people in the restaurant, and rushed out to get back to Capitol Reef. Fortunately we did not have far to go.

Finally back at Capitol Reef, we decided to take the drive through the central part of the park. This drive had several points where we could get out and walk; we took advantage of this. However, the dirt roads up the canyons were far too muddy to risk with the Prev at this time. We walked up the canyons a short distance to survey the geology of the reef and the kids climbed over the rocks. After the drive, we decided that we needed to get out and take a hike.

Hickman Bridge Trail

We stopped at the visitor center so that Rebecca could check out the posters while we looked over the trail brochures. The trail that was the right length for the rest of the afternoon was the Hickman Bridge trail. It left from just north of the road across the park, climbed up to the top of the Fold, past some petroglyphs, and then climbed slowing over the surface of the Fold to an 133 foot arch hidden among the crevices in the rock. We walked over bare rock, past small and medium sized waterpockets, still containing some of the water that was also responsible for the mud that kept us out of the canyon drives. From these we heard the small toads that were taking this chance to reproduce while the water that gives life in the desert was available. When we reached the arch I found it impossible to get the entire arch in a photograph, even with the panoramic camera, because we were in such a small niche in the rock. I couldn't get far enough back to get any perspective, but the view through the arch was beautiful. As we hiked back to the car, Rebecca and I walked ahead of the others. When we were waiting for them one time, she used the isolation to let me know what a couple of good suggestions for birthday and Christmas presents for her mother would be.

bluff erosion

When Kathy, Daniel and Steve caught up with us, we continued down the face of the Fold which gave us a beautiful view of the Fremont River below. It was now getting to be well into the evening. We still stopped at all of the pullouts along the road, The Castle, Chimney Rock (another one!), Twin Rocks. We had decided that we definitely did not want to eat dinner at the motel. There was one other restaurant that we had seen and we headed for it. We just managed to get in before they closed the doors and had a pleasant dinner in an almost empty restaurant. Apparently our schedule (??) was not the same as that kept by the locals.

Tomorrow we will be driving over Boulder Mountain, to Escalante, across Bryce, through Cedar Breaks to spend the night in Cedar City. From there we would have a straight shot into San Dimas the next day. To make sure that the day would be pleasant, given the uncertainty of the amount of time that breakfast would take, we needed to get everything out of the suitcases and prepared for the morning before we went to sleep. After the kids got to sleep, we organized for the morning then hit the sack.


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See our map and guide reference section for trail maps and other useful information available from has over 3,500 maps.

Utah Atlas and Gazetteer, DeLorme Publishing.

Roadside Geology of Utah, Halka Chronic, Mountain Press Publishing Company, Missoula, MT

Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey, University of Arizona Press.

A Field Guide to Rock Art Symbols of the Greater Southwest, Alex Patterson

Images in Stone: Southwest Rock Art, Polly Schaafsma, David Muench (Photographer), Browntrout Pub.

Indian Rock Art of the Southwest, Polly Schaafsma, Univ. of New Mexico Press

Kokopelli: Fluteplayer Images in Rock Art, Dennis Slifer, James Duffield, Ancient City Press

Legacy on Stone: Rock Art of the Colorado Plateau and Four Corners Region, Sally J. Cole, Johnson Books

Petroglyphs and Pictographs of Utah: The East and Northeast, Kenneth B. Castleton, Univ. Utah Press

Postcard-Images in Stone Southwest Rock Art, Browntrout Pub.

Rock Art of the American Southwest , Fred Hirschmann (Photographer), Scott Thybony, Graphics Arts Center Pub.

The Rock Art of Utah: A Study from the Donald Scott Collection, Polly Schaafsma, Univ. Utah Press

The Archaeology of Rock-Art, Christopher Chippindale, Paul S. C. Tacon (Editors), Cambridge University Press

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© 1995 - Karen M. Strom