I love the Waterpocket Fold that spans the boundaries of Capital Reef National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Capital Reef is probably the least visited of the popular Utah parks and is usually a quick stop and look visit as people whizz by are on their way to Bryce or Zion National Parks.
But today we are lucky because we will spend all of it along or in the midst of the Waterpocket Folds’ internal cavity.
As the canyon deepens, there are more alcoves and some of them have been historically used.
We find a historic cowboy camp with signatures like “Andrew Hunt 1921” and an old cigarette tin.
A pioneer route. This twisty canyon with its high red walls must have been quite the respite from the heat and open desert of the surrounding country.
After about 4 miles of hiking, Muley Twist Canyon unfurls like a flower and we are spit out into the sun and Halls Creek drainage. Soon we come to Muley Tanks. I am so fascinated by these “tanks”, natural water depressions in the bleached and creamy Navajo Sandstone, formed as the monoclinal fold pushed through the earth’s surface.
The Waterpocket Fold is full of these natural tanks and slot canyons with water.
By mid-afternoon we have worked our way down Halls Creek which parallels the fold until it decides to cut and twist into the body of the fold; we have reached the Narrows. We hiked the Halls Creek Narrows and spent time in some of the surrounding canyons on a six-day backpacking trip here about five years ago. It is in the top five all-time hikes for me. The Halls Creek Narrows are spectacular. But how they formed remains a great geologic mystery. Ray had several geology students working on how it formed.