On day 3 of our epic adventure, we woke up in Tropic, Utah. Breakfast was great at our hotel, and before Brian and the kids had woken up I snuck in a walk to Bryce Canyon Coffee company for my morning wake up call. The coffee shop is great. It’s attached to a little motel and the owners were the ones running the hotel desk and coffee shop and chatting with customers.
I had read all about Utah’s Scenic Byway highway 12. It gets rave reviews for being a beautiful drive, and it certainly lived up to the hype!
One stop we knew for sure we wanted to make was the Kiva Koffeehouse. Situated right off highway 12 in Escalante, it is an architecturally unique cafe built into the side of a hill near the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. The views are amazing and the coffee was great too!
After our coffee break, we continued the drive toward Torrey, Utah, which took us through an amazing variety of beautiful scenery and peaked at 9,600 foot elevation.
We grabbed a quick lunch in Torrey, Utah. Since it was Sunday, several places were closed, but we got a pretty good lunch at Red Cliffs restaurant.
Capitol Reef is the least visited of Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks. And we noticed the smaller crowds, which we didn’t mind!
When visiting Capitol Reef, it is really easy and recommended to also visit Fruta, an 1880’s settlement. There still remains an old schoolhouse and a homestead where you can purchase baked goods (we tried the cinnamon rolls!), and the main focus is the orchards still operating under the NPS. Depending on what is in season during your visit, they have “pick your own” produce available. Read more about Fruta from the NPS here:
After a quick stop in Fruta, We took the scenic drive through Capitol Reef and started with the Capitol Gorge hike. This is a nice flat hike into a narrowing canyon, where you can see petroglyphs and the engraved names of pioneers who made their way through in the 1800’s and beyond.
We did not go all the way back on this hike because it was HOT and the toddlers weren’t having it, but the part we did was really easy and level. Keep in mind this requires driving off road a bit to get to on a rocky, unpaved stretch. Our Jeep Cherokee did completely fine and we even saw a Prius back there so if they can do it, I’m guessing anyone can!
Capitol Reef is very beautiful and unique. The lack of crowds make for an almost eerie quiet at times (except when our toddlers wanted to hear their echoes).
After our Capitol Gorge hike, we wanted to fit one more thing in before leaving Capitol Reef. We decided on the Hickman Natural Bridge trail. The skies were a bit stormy and with that came much more pleasant temps for this 1.8 mile out and back hike!
Pierce and Finley both did the hike up on foot, just under a mile. It was a lot of stairs, hills, and rocks, and they did great!
On the way back down, these two were ready for piggy back rides!
The drive from Capitol Reef to Green River, where we would spend the next 2 nights, basically looked like this:
It seemed that at least for now, our eyes were getting a break from all the beauty Utah had been dishing out…