Spectacular guided hikes in CAPITOL REEF country
Redrock Adventure Guides sits adjacent to 20 million acres of designated and de facto wilderness. Our permit area covers the absolute heart of it, and our literal backyard is Capitol Reef National Park, a quarter million acres of sandstone domes and twisting canyons that is easily the finest, and least known, national park in southern Utah. It’s the reason we moved here 27 years ago.
Showing guests real wilderness is the reason we guide, and decades of exploring the Four Corners has shown us the best adventures aren’t on scenic drives, manicured trails, or warmed-over “10 Best” lists: They’re in little-known, uncrowded, locations like Capitol Reef. Below are a few of our favorite “Reef” trips. Call or email for additional suggestions.
The Navajo sandstone domes atop the Waterpocket Fold offer secret routes that rate five out of five stars for both scenery and solitude. Side explorations are everywhere, with huge views to the Reef’s spectacular Beehives section, and east to the Utah/Colorado border. Most routes here can be tailored to any level of challenge, from four mile out-and-backs, to serious scrambles and power hikes.
Depending on the exact route – chosen to match your interest – we might pass ancient rock art panels, explore slot canyons, look for bighorn sheep, power-hike to staggering overlooks, or watch frogs swimming in the slickrock pools. But you’ll always see mind-bending geology that’ll change your concept of landscape.
This 6.5-mile loop combines trail and cross-country travel into a staggeringly beautiful journey that’s doable yet challenging for most mortal hikers. After a 2.5-mile gradual trail climb, we leave the track, crossing multi-colored slickrock with crazy views out across the northern Reef to the isolated plateaus of Boulder and Thousand Lakes Mountains. This trek requires 1,300 feet of elevation gain, a touch of easy scrambling, and several steep slopes, but the short mileage makes it suitable for any healthy individual.
Ferns Nipple Loop
“Short, stout, and spectacular” perfectly describes this rugged, 7-mile route. It climbs 1,400 feet to circle around the blonde slickrock dome of Fern’s Nipple, then descends a faint, maze-like bighorn sheep track back to trailhead. Views from atop the reef are unparalleled.
Enroute, you climb two easy scrambles where we’ll break out a light climbing rope for safety. The ascent requires steep off-trail hiking, and guides who can stay exactly on this complex route. Expect 6 to 8 hours of rugged hiking and scrambling at a reasonable pace.
Golden Throne Loop
This largely off-trail 5.5-mile route strolls past rock art and historic pioneer inscriptions, then climbs steep boulderfield to wind through U-shaped gorges and tower-ringed valleys dotted with waterholes and giant ponderosa pine. After circling the Golden Throne’s immense sandstone plug, we descend across slickrock aprons and into a narrow gorge. There we’ll make two simple rappels or rope lowers, separated by a tunnel that corkscrews through house-sized boulders. A 1.8-mile trail with mezzanine views descends back to our start. Total elevation gain is 1,300 feet.
This twisting 10.25-mile gorge in Capitol Reef is a hallway of towering redrock for most of its length. After an initial 300-foot climb, the remaining miles are a gradual downhill, making it doable for most hikers. The trip is characterized by continual jaw-dropping corridors, a slot canyon to explore, a lovely clearwater spring and, in autumn, golden foliage on some of the park’s most magnificent cottonwoods. To finish, we ford the calf- to knee-deep Fremont River just before trips’ end. Because of its low traffic and gorgeous scenery, this is one of the few officially named locations we regularly travel. It also makes an excellent introduction to overnight backpacking.
This hidden gem is an excellent introduction to our Henry Mountains District operation area, a two-million-acre BLM region that’s equal to, but considerably larger than, our backyard national park, Capitol Reef. Located near the renowned North Wash canyoneering area, Maidenwater is a trio of difficult slot tributaries – or a pleasant day hike – depending on the section you choose.
As a day hike, Maidenwater lets you sample a beautiful deep-canyon environment – and typical challenges such as easy scrambling, pool wading, and willow thickets -without the commitment of roped canyoneering.
Ask us about other possible hikes!
CONTACT US for info on other hikes, base camp hiking, and multi-sport itineraries.
Steve Howe 435-425-3339 -or- Jennifer Howe 435-425-3330
Please refer to our reservations, deposit, and cancellation policies.