REWIND: After hiking to Upper Calf Creek Falls in Grand Staircase-Escalante, I continued my drive north on Highway 12 before turning west on Highway 24 where I found myself at Capitol Reef National Park. Although it was late in the day and I wouldn’t be able to visit, I was excited to spend the night dispersed camping off Notom Road where I could feast my eyes upon one of my favorite geologic features which I call Navajo Knobs. Last spring I spent a few days enjoying this area (link to related post).
After discussing several options, we decided to spend time immersed in Capitol Reef National Park. First on the list was Muley Canyon, a place I’ve dreamed of since first crossing the Waterfold Pocket several years ago. Last spring, my blog post said “one day I’d like to come back and hike the Muley Twist trails.”
Look at that beautiful monocline. During my trip last spring I took a lot of photos and wrote a bit about the geology of the Waterpocket Fold (link to related post).
According to the NPS handout, “Upper Muley Twist Canyon cuts lengthwise along the spine of the Waterpocket Fold creating a colorful, meandering canyon. The Navajo and Wingate sandstone layers are exposed here, tilted by the uplift and folding of the Earth’s crust and sculpted by millions of years of erosion. The Wingate, stripped of its protective Kayenta cap rock, has eroded into unusual forms including many large arches. Highlights of the hike are narrow canyons, expanses of slickrock, large arches, and dramatic vistas from the top of Waterpocket Fold.”
As we worked our way through the canyon, it was impossible not to imagine what it was like for the Mormon Pioneers who traveled through with their wagons. According to the NPS, “From 1881 to 1884, the canyon served as a wagon route for Mormon pioneers traveling south toward San Juan County. The canyon was though to be narrow enough to “twist a mule”, hence the name Muley Twist.”
- March 24-25, 2018
- According to NPS, “The route not an official, maintained trail. It is marked with rock cairns and signs, but carrying a topo map is recommended. Route conditions, including obstacles in canyons, change frequently due to weather, flash floods, rockfall, and other hazards. Route finding, navigation, and map-reading skills are critical. Do not rely solely on unofficial route markers such as rock cairns which are not maintained by NPS. It is extremely hot in summer and water sources are unreliable.”
- Free backcountry permits are required for all overnight trips and can be obtained at the Visitor Center.
- Obtain a copy of the trail handout at the Visitor Center. It has tips about the POI’s as well as trail beta.
- Be aware of biological soil crust.
- Capitol Reef National Park
- NPS – Upper Muley Twist
- Hiking from Here to WOW: Utah Canyon Country (look for the 2018 edition)