Repeatable delight: Upper Muley Twist Canyon in Capitol Reef National Park

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Repeatable delight: Upper Muley Twist Canyon in Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef hike offers contrasting scenery
Saddle Arch rises from a banded platform on the west wall of Muley Twist Canyon. Seen through the large aperture are two caves, arches under development.
Hike northwest upcanyon to the signed junction with the Rim Route. Climb east to the top of Waterpocket Fold. Follow cairns to the north end of the Rim Route and then descend west to the canyon floor. At the downstream end of a lengthy bypass, explore a slot canyon before walking southeast to the trailhead.

Repeatable delight: Upper Muley Twist Canyon in Capitol Reef National Park

Saddle Arch rises from a banded platform on the west wall of Muley Twist Canyon. Seen through the large aperture are two caves, arches under development.
Hike northwest upcanyon to the signed junction with the Rim Route. Climb east to the top of Waterpocket Fold. Follow cairns to the north end of the Rim Route and then descend west to the canyon floor. At the downstream end of a lengthy bypass, explore a slot canyon before walking southeast to the trailhead.
Travel Basics

Travel: Drive south from the junction of Utah State Route 24 and Notom-Bullfrog Road (nine miles east of the Visitor Center). The road is paved for 16 miles before transitioning to graded clay and dirt. The track can be impassable when wet and has short segments of deep sand when dry. Peek-a-Boo Arch, visible high on the wall to the west, precedes the right turn onto the Burr Trail at 23.4 miles. Drive carefully up the steep switchbacks cleaved into a break between stone walls. Turn right on Strike Valley Road, 3.1 miles from the Notom-Burr Trail junction, following the sign for “Upper Muley Twist Canyon, 3 miles.” To reach the trailhead, four-wheel drive with good clearance and sturdy tires is recommended. Most of the track is buff but there are some seriously rocky sections. There is room for six to eight vehicles at the trailhead parking lot. No facilities, no water.

Fees and Camping: Please see the Capitol Reef National Park website for current information.

Distance and Elevation Gain: 10.3 miles with 1,100 feet of climbing.

Total Time: 5½ to 7 hours

Difficulty: Wash bottom and cairned route; navigation moderate--experience following cairns is recommended; Class 2+; mild exposure; carry all the water you will need and avoid on hot summer days and when there is any threat of electrical storms or rain.

Maps: Hiking Map and Guide: Capitol Reef National Park; Trails Illustrated: Capitol Reef #267, available at the Visitor Center.

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