Monday, December 6, 2010

A year in the making...

As we've mentioned before, we've been working on adding more "mellow" trips to our tour catalog. Basically trips that a reasonably fit beginner can sign up for...great for couples, families or even advanced groups who just want a more relaxing mountain bike tour. You know - sleep late and stay up late. :)

Well over a year ago we started to plot a route that would take us through some of the most remote country the lower 48 states has to offer in south/central Utah. We got shut out from scouting for numerous reasons - time constraints, weather, etc. But now the result: The Swell to Capitol Reef National Park. "The Swell" is the San Rafael Swell, an amazing geologic feature starting just outside Green River, UT. From there the route follows the Swell north, takes a hard left southwest at the Wedge Overlook (photo below), skirts the Sid's Mountain Wilderness Study Area (WSA), carves through the Devil's Canyon WSA, makes a long southerly traverse on Cathedral Valley Rd and then enters the not-often-traveled northern end of Capitol Reef National Park.

So, how to talk about this trip without tooting one's own horn? We just returned from putting on the final touches and all we can say is - IT IS AMAZING. Take a look at the photos we captured below. Can you believe that photographically-speaking it was less than ideal shooting conditions? There is A LOT of stuff we didn't shoot because we didn't want the gray, overcast skies to cast a poor light (pun intended) on this truly special landscape.

Journey through the San Rafael Reef (we got the van stuck in here):

View of the west side of the reef from the Jackass Benches:

The Buckhorn Wall:

The Wedge Overlook:

Also the Wedge, but the "Little Grand Canyon" overlook:

Peeking into Sid's Mountain WSA:

Some snow in Devil's Canyon WSA:

The southerly traverse on Cathedral Valley Rd:

Shades of Capitol Reef NP start to appear on the road south:

The last open desert before Capitol Reef NP:

I could have taken 50 different pictures in this area:

The road punches out of the rock and out into some BIG open country:

The northern entrance to Capitol Reef National Park. At this point we hadn't seen another car or human for 2 days:

Overlooking Capitol Reef NP's Cathedral Valley:

Overlook onto CRNP's "Southern Desert":

Second overlook onto the Southern Desert. No picture can take the place of standing here:

The more "known" area of Capitol Reef National Park starts to come into view with hints of the Waterpocket Fold:

The Bentonite Hills with the Henry Mountains in the distance:

So there it is....just a taste. The website will be up soon with dates posted for Spring and Fall 2011. Make your plans to experience this wonderful area!