My last post ended with us leaving Bryce Canyon and driving 20 minutes East to Cannonville, UT. The only thing in Cannonville is small, quirky hotel called the Grand Staircase Inn. It seemed to magically appear out of nowhere as the GPS called out the remaining mileage till the turn. I call this place quirky because I have never seen a hotel that has a 2-pump Sinclair station, BBQ truck and convenience store all in the same facility. In case you were wondering, the BBQ truck will deliver delicious smoked meats to your room! We all loved this hotel. It is family owned by a very pleasant Mormon family. The rooms were very large and clean. We were on the third floor and noticed a closet across the hallway standing open with pillows, blankets and a roll-a-way bed. We helped ourselves to the bed since there are 5 of us staying in the room and an extra pillow. This place gave off the vibe of staying at Grandma’s house where it’s OK to help yourself to what you need.
The next morning, I awoke before everyone else. It was a very crisp morning of probably 48 degrees. I went down to the convenience store where they offer complimentary coffee and toast to their paying guests. They also offer free bags of ice. If you want more than toast or coffee, the convenience store was very well stocked with anything you could want including hot sandwiches. Here are some pictures of our enjoyable hotel.
My 3 kids were actually getting along well in the picture above. After clearing out of our rooms, we got on the road toward Capitol Reef National Park. It’s a very scenic drive through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument on RT. 12 There are many places to stop and take pictures if you want to stretch your legs on the 3 hour drive to Capitol Reef.
My youngest daughter is going to be a high school Senior this coming year so we stopped to take some pictures. I doubt many other kids in Ohio will have a backdrop like this for their senior pictures. This made a great memory for us all and will be immortalized on our living room wall. Regularguy Tip: Bring extra outfits for your kids and take their senior pictures in a National Park. This could also be a great opportunity to take a coordinated family picture to be used for Christmas cards later in the year.
We arrived at the park while a storm was blowing through. We had just started to eat our lunch at a picnic table when the wind and rain just about blew away everything we had. We scrambled to gather our food and jump in the van to finish eating. This was one of those stressful moments that you laugh about later..
Capitol Reef is by far the least visited and most remote of all the Utah national parks. It would be a mistake to skip this park. This park has petroglyphs, towering rock formations, rivers, lizards, cacti and natural rock bridges. We chose to hike the Hickman Bridge trail. It was a relatively easy .7 mile trail that ended at the Hickman Rock Arch / Bridge. This trail was a good choice because it allowed us to see all the elements I mentioned above. We met this husband & wife hiking the same trail who were visiting from Scotland. They said this was their 17th visit to the states primarily visiting our National Parks. I offered to take their picture several times and the man kept exclaiming, “Brilliant!” “Brilliant.” A funny little memory I will take away from this hike.
With all the beautiful scenery Capitol Reef has to offer, no visit would be complete without a visit to the Gifford Homestead Barn. It’s the remaining settlement or the original Mormon settlers who first established this valley. Their orchards are still thriving to this day and produce fruit used in the pies and jellies that can be purchased inside the old homestead. Regularguy Tip: Don’t leave here without trying a cherry pie or one of the freshly baked cinnamon rolls. I am told my other members of our group, the apple and peach pies were equally delicious.
The photography opportunities here are endless and the crowds you will find at other more prominent parks should be non-existent. I felt really good about 4 hours in this park. We didn’t leave Capitol Reef wondering if we had missed something significant. Stay tuned for part 4 and our two days in Moab.