One of the things I love most about being on the road with the Teardrop in tow is that I have no destination, no direction in mind. I can go anywhere on any whim. In Utah, land of little internet, I’ve been getting off beat travel tips the old fashioned way: by talking to people. Two days ago, camped on free public land near the Glen Canyon dam, I got a tip from a master: Edward Abbey.
Reading the Down the River chapter of Desert Solitaire, in which Ed and a friend float through Glen Canyon’s doomed paradise, weeks before it was flooded to create Lake Powell, Abbey mentions glimpsing a “weird” geologic wonder to the west: the Waterpocket Fold.
“Sure to be, someday, another National Park, complete with police, administrators, paved highways, automobile nature trails, official scenic viewpoints, designated campgrounds, laundromats, cafeterias, Coke machines, flush toilets and admission fees,” he wrote, “If you wish to see it as it should be seen, don’t wait– there’s little time. How do you get there? Well, I couldn’t tell you.”
Ed was right about most things, including this. Looking up Waterpocket Fold in my handy guide “Hiking the Southwest’s Geology: Four Corners Region” I find that it’s now part of Capitol Reef National Park. A detour is in order.
The next morning, I drove to the visitor center and asked the park ranger on duty the best way to see the Waterpocket Fold. He listed a few nearby viewpoints and then said, “If you want a real adventure and the best possible view, you’re going to want to head down to Cedar Mesa.”
I asked a bunch of questions about the road – graded gravel – and the best approach with a travel trailer. He suggested I leave the trailer 20 miles in at a backcountry campsite, drive the next 30 miles, park before the ruts get truly rugged and hike the last 4 miles to the Strike Valley overlook. Sounds like a plan to me!