Trip Number: 13075A
Staff: Donald Elting
- See spectacular geology and landscapes
- Explore typically untraveled areas
- Contribute to the preservation of this beautiful national park
- All meals and snacks
- All group cooking gear
- Insight from knowledgeable park staff
Located on the Waterpocket Fold in central Utah, Capitol Reef National Park
offers rugged, beautiful scenery with deep narrow canyons, spectacular vistas,
great expanses of slickrock and multi-colored rock layers exposed by the massive
fold in the earth’s crust. Petroglyphs give evidence of the early inhabitants
of the area dating back at least 10,000 years. The area also has a more recent
history in evidence with the orchards and buildings from the Fruita community,
which was founded by Mormon pioneers in 1880.
Photo: Donald Elting
This trip will be a continuation of a relationship we have with the Capitol
Reef National Park staff who look forward to our assistance each year. We have
assisted in many projects that refurbish the most used areas of the park, but
also projects in some of the most remote areas of the park. Projects range from
preparing the Ripple Rock Nature Center, a children’s museum, for its
season of programs to building fence on the perimeter of the park. We have helped
maintain the historic orchards and obliterated roads into the backcountry. Each
year there is a variety of projects that entertain us and also help maintain
this wonderful park. We enjoy the camaraderie and learning from the park service
staff when working on these projects. We will be working at about 5,400 feet
and higher, so hydrating is important as is working at a comfortable pace and
No matter what the project is, the rewards are great. And, because of the budget
and staff constraints of the park, the work we do might not get done if we did
not do it. We strive to have a good time and benefit the park in the process.
The park staff is friendly, dedicated, highly skilled and very pleased we are
there to help. We have a chance to work behind the scenes at the park and learn
some of the secrets that the staff will share with us.
We will meet in front of the Capitol Reef Visitors Center no later than 10:30
a.m. on Sunday. After introductions and orientations, we will reconvene at our
group campsite. This will be our campsite for the week and although it is comfortable,
there are limited amenities. We have potable water and flush toilets. We’ll
erect a shower curtain, so bring a sun shower for warm water. Please pack carefully
and bring everything you need for the trip -- toiletries included -- as there
are no services inside the park.
We will work eight-hour days on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Wednesday
will be our day off to hike and explore the park. Each day after breakfast we
will pack our lunches, to be eaten wherever we find ourselves at noon. At the
end of each day, participants are at liberty to venture out and enjoy the surrounding
Participants are responsible for getting themselves to the starting point.
The cost of transportation to the starting point is not included in the price
of the service trip. Commercial flights and car rentals are available into Grand
Junction, Colorado; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Las Vegas, Nevada. Those driving
from Nevada need to remember that Nevada time (PST) is one hour earlier than
From Grand Junction, Colorado: Travel west on I-70 to exit
147, take Utah 24 and go south to Hanksville. At Hanksville, go west (right
turn) on Utah 24 to Capitol Reef National Park. This is approximately a three-hour
Photo: Donald Elting
From Salt Lake City, Utah: Travel south on I-15 to Scipio
(exit 188). At Scipio, continue southeast towards Salina via Utah 50. At Salina,
pick up I-70 and go west to Siguard (exit 48). At Siguard continue on Utah 24
to Capitol Reef National Park. This is approximately a 4-5-hour drive.
From Las Vegas, Nevada: Travel north on I-15 to Utah 20 (exit
95). Go east to Utah 89, then go north (left turn) to Utah 62 (right turn).
Continue east then north to Utah 24. Turn right at Utah 24 and continue on 24
to Capitol Reef National Park. This is approximately a 5-6 hour drive.
As soon as a list of participants is available, the leader will forward copies
to all trip members to facilitate carpooling.
Accommodations and Food
The first meal will be lunch on Sunday, and the last meal will be breakfast
the following Saturday. Deli meat, cheese, and condiments will be available
each day for preparing a lunch to be taken to the work site. Fruit and cookie
snacks will also be available to complete your lunch.
The trip staff will prepare menus, and every effort will be made to avoid foods
to which participants have indicated they are allergic. Meal preparation will
be directed by a staff member and assisted by trip members; all trip members
can plan on one day of KP chores of their choosing. Breakfast is usually served
at 7:00 a.m., then we’re ready to work with the park staff at 8:00 a.m.
After a full day and some time to relax and clean up, dinner is usually at 6:00
Participants are responsible for bringing their own mess kit, including utensils,
plate, bowl, drinking glass, hot cup and a couple of hard plastic containers
for packing lunch. Bring at lest two or three personal one-liter/one-quart containers
for carrying your daily water.
This will be a moderately strenuous trip. You should be in good shape and
prepared for lots of work and fun. Altitude is a concern for those not accustomed
to the mountains or high desert environment. The physical demands of exertion
at altitude mean you should work at your own pace, bring lots of water, and
rest when necessary. No one will be pushed past his or her limits.
If you haven’t seen you doctor in the past five years, plan on a visit
to get his or her signature on the medical information form. Minor medical conditions
are no impediment to having a full, enjoyable experience. Also do not forget
-- all participants must have a current tetanus shot (within the past seven
Equipment and Clothing
Photo: Donald Elting
As always, weather at high altitudes is unpredictable. Nighttime temperatures
can drop below freezing and snow or frost in the morning is possible. A warm
sleeping bag and tent are required. Bring at least three one-liter containers
for carrying water, your own supply of moleskin and Band-Aids, sunscreen, and
lip balm. Bring clothes and boots that are warm and comfortable as well as broken
in. Bring at least two pair of work gloves that have been broken in as well.
April and May temperatures in southern Utah can range from 30 degrees at night
to 90 degrees in the mid-afternoon. While we hope for warm, clear days, rain
can sweep in and gear should be appropriate for three-season conditions. Plan
to dress in layers for the workday as well as the hiking days. Shower facilities
are limited and not a sure thing -- a sun shower will provide a way for you
to rinse off at the end of a hard day. Be prepared for the unusual, but if you
bring the usual, sensible camping items you will be fine.
To repeat: A good pair of heavy duty or leather work gloves is essential for
this trip; like hiking boots, gloves serve best when broken-in in advance.
The National Park Service will provide all work tools. An equipment list, which
will be sent to you by the leader as part of the pre-trip information, gives
guidance in your gear selection. No supplies are available in the park, so you
should do final gear checks in Grand Junction, Las Vegas, or Salt Lake City.
The area is fairly remote, but we will be working with the National Park Service
staff on a daily basis, so you can be contacted through them. A contact number
will be provided to participants.
- The visitor center at Capitol Reef has a wide assortment of hiking and topographical
maps including the booklet Explore Capitol Reef Trails, which describes
the hiking trails with hiking time and distance.
- The Sierra Club Guide to the National Parks, Desert Southwest.
- Collier, Michael, The Geology of Capitol Reef National Park.
- Houk, Rose, Capitol Reef Canyon Country Eden.
- Davidson, George, Red Rock Eden, The Story of Fruita.
- Stegner, Wallace, Mormon Country.
You may request a comprehensive list of publications from the Capitol Reef
Natural History Association:
Capitol Reef Natural History Association
Capitol Reef National Park
Torrey, Utah 84775
The various projects allow the group to be involved in conservation of historic
buildings, active orchards with heirloom varieties, as well as the beauty of
the natural landscape.
See the How to Apply for an Outing section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation Policy.
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
Don Elting has been a member of the Willamette Backcountry Ski Patrol since 1993. He has assisted with planning and preparation of the Capitol Reef trip since 2004.
Janet Kahan has hiked for many years. She has assisted with the Red Rock Eden trip to Capitol Reef since 2011.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips