Those that follow along on this little web diary of ours are likely well acquainted with The Weekenders series by now. It's the part of our biz where we quite literally get outta town and make an effort to enjoy the many stellar spots that our state (or the neighboring ones) is home to. Places like Mystic Hot Springs, for example. Or Joe's Valley. Park City or Zion National Park. In our minds, it's all worth a visit, and if you can reasonably make it happen in the space of a single weekend, all the better. This time around, it's something of a double whammy...that is to say, we've got a national park and a place to stay that could actually be yours. Allow us to explain...
it's all so perfectly isolated
CAPITOL REEF NAT'L PARK, 3.5 HOURS: As with every destination in The Weekenders, you needn't worry about too lengthy a road trip. Instead, you'll be in the car just long enough to take in 200+ miles of topographical variations that induce long, fantasy-ridden gazes out the window, accompanied by your perfect playlist. From high, alpine mountain zones covered in snow and pine trees to the hot, lower-elevation, sandy desert...you'd be well advised to stay awake and look around. All told, you'll be southbound on I-15 for roughly 120 miles, at which point, you'll pop off onto US-50 W (Scipio exit 188). From there, grab UT-24 E and make your way through tiny towns and open space until you reach Bicknell, just a few miles from the entrance to Capitol Reef National Park.
Check In*: CHC Listing, 660 W Fish Hatchery Rd, Bicknell -- Typically, we steer you trip-takers toward a cute, boutique hotel, glamping site, or local haunt of our choosing...but we'll get to that in just a second. This time around, we'd be remiss if we didn't let you know that--rather than simply stay for the weekend--you could actually purchase a plot of your very own in this stunning country. Listed by yours truly, this cabin in Bicknell is pretty much an outdoor enthusiast's dream. Flanked to the north and south by Fishlake and Dixie National Forests, respectively, and perched just a few miles west of Capitol Reef Nat'l Park, it's the perfect answer to "serenity, now". Situated on roughly 8 acres, the interior is bright and spacious, the porch is perfect, and there's an endless night sky for the best kind of stargazing. Of course, for those not in the market to buy a home, there are always places worth spending a quick weekend.
*Alas, this CHC listing is no longer available, but we're eager to try out these spots: Capitol Reef Resort, Red River Ranch, and the Torrey Schoolhouse.
have a bite. take a hike.
Eat Out: Capitol Reef Inn & Cafe, 360 W Main St., Torrey; Hell's Backbone Grill & Farm, No. 20 North Highway 12, Boulder; Mesa Farm Market, mile marker 102, Highway 24, Caineville -- These three spots are as unique as they are worth visiting for a bite. The Capitol Reef Inn & Cafe (just 10 minutes from Bicknell/aforementioned cabin of dreams) is a lovely little joint for wine, beer, and a sensational breakfast (though, not necessarily in that order), and we found ourselves there more than once over the weekend. For lunch, we drove about 50 minutes east to the Mesa Farm Market, a tiny, sustainable farm where you'll find happy goats, fresh fruits, and delicious cheese in equal measure (in fact, Caputo's carries many of the curds that Mesa produces). We highly recommend going in for some fresh bread and local salad. For those who don't mind going a touch further down the road for supper, we strongly suggest you head into Hell's Backbone Grill. We told you about them a couple weeks ago...and we certainly weren't the first. This place is an OG in the farm-to-fork initiative, and their many awards and accolades are well deserved. Technically, it's a little over an hour south of the Bicknell/Torrey area, but this is a drive (and meal...and experience) you're unlikely to regret.
Spend Pesos: There are certainly goods to be found in tiny shops (think: handmade rugs, blankets, and the like), but that's probably not why you're here. You're here for Mother Nature. You're here to stand in awe of the endless red rock and sandstone formations. To breathe in that untainted air and listen to the sounds of nearly nothing. That's why we're all here. Capitol Reef is a (literal) wrinkle in the earth that's littered with canyons, crags, and cliffs that will drop your jaw at every turn. Take a hike. For our part, we made our way to Cassidy Arch. Relatively easy (in fact, it can be done barefoot, this one), and stunning, to say the very least. Walk over the arch itself (a little unnerving, what with the wee drop from each side) or stay on solid ground and take photos while your pals take all the risk. Either way, look around. You came to the right place.