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Find Your Own Adventure With These Outdoor Excursions At Fort Desolation Fest [Photos/Video]

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Out among the red rocks of scenic Torrey, UT, Fort Desolation Fest is putting a new spin on the music festival experience. While the fourth-year festival is topped with headliners Black PumasSierra Ferrell, and Paul Cauthen, what’s equally important to the Fort Desolation experience is what attendees do while the stage is silent. Music at Fort Desolation doesn’t start until the evening so that visitors can find their own adventures during the day and abide by the motto, “Adventures by day, music by night.” So before Fort Desolation returns to the Cougar Ridge Resort from June 6th–8th, we decided to take a look at some of the fest’s best outdoor activities.

Capitol Reef National Park

Located in Utah’s south-central desert, Cougar Ridge Resort is only a ten-minute drive from Capitol Reef National Park, one of Utah’s “Mighty Five” national parks. Within minutes, festivalgoers can arrive at the entrance to the 378-square-mile park which brims with unique natural formations including cliffs, canyons, and domes, along with a monocline—a wrinkle in the Earth—that expands for nearly 100 miles. At scenic Panorama Point and Sunset Point, visitors can get views equivalent to Zion and Aches National Parks but without having to fight the traffic those parks get.

Cathedral Valley area of Capitol Reef National Park, photo by Erik Peterson

For those looking to go beyond the views and kick up some red dirt, the park features 15 hiking trails for all skill levels. The Cassidy Arch trail takes adventurers to the titular arch for pristine views, while Grand Wash leads right through one of Capitol Reef’s canyons. More breathtaking views are found at the top of some of the more challenging hikes like Cohab Canyon, Chimney Rock Trail, and Rim Overlook, while backcountry routes like Upper and Lower Muley Twist Canyon and Halls Creek Narrows provide opportunities for daylong hiking trips.

Those looking to connect with the history of the Utah desert can seek out Capitol Reef’s many petroglyphs—rock art figures made by Native Americans. Archeologists determined that these images were carved into the red rocks by the Fremont Culture, who lived in what is now Utah from 300–1300 CE. For some more recent history, travelers can head down Highway 24 for a slice of pie at the Gifford Homestead, one of the last remaining buildings in historic Fruita on the north end of Capitol Reef. The original home was built in 1908 and functions to this day as a shop for items from local craftsmen, but it is perhaps best known for its pies baked fresh daily.

Petroglyph Panel along Utah Highway 24, photo courtesy National Parks Service

Other Parks & Forests

While Capitol Reef is certainly the closest national park to Cougar Ridge, it’s definitely not the only one. Those who get an early start can travel roughly an hour and a half to Goblin Valley State Park, just northeast of Cougar Ridge along scenic Highway 24. The park gets its name from the three-square-mile area covered in hundreds of hoodoos—natural rock columns—that resemble a valley of goblins. The park also affords plenty of other opportunities for mountain biking, hiking, and canyoneering.

Goblin Valley State Park | The Complete Experience!

[Video: America’s Parks]

Those looking to cool off during the day can head an hour and a half northwest up Highway 24 (noticing a pattern here?) to Fishlake National Forest. The forest is centered around the titular Fish Lake, the largest freshwater mountain lake in the state. The national forest is a great place for—you guessed it—fishing, in addition to other aquatic activities like kayaking and paddleboarding along with hiking and mountain biking. Fishlake National Forest is home to the world’s heaviest organism, constituting 40,000 individual aspen trees all connected by one massive underground root system.

Guided Activities

For those who want to skip the legwork, the region also has a variety of services offering guided activities. Quiet Fly Fisher will allow visitors to take full advantage of Southern Utah’s pristine fishing without having to check your tackle box at the airport. The experienced guides will lead trips to various fishing environments including mountain lakes, rivers, and streams as you cast off for Tiger trout, Brook trout, and many more of the region’s indigenous fish.

Sleeping Rainbow Adventures also offers guides for a host of activities including Jeep tours, guided hikes, photography tours, and many more. Travelers can also build exactly the trip they want with a custom day tour, combining elements of various guided tours for their ideal adventure. The nearby Capitol Reef Resort also leads horseback trail rides through the national park, with Ride The Reef offering ATV rentals for the many off-road trails that cut through the region.

Highway 24

Finally, for those who maybe boogied a bit too hard the night before or are conserving some energy for the one ahead, there’s always a scenic drive down Highway 24. You may or may not have noticed that all of the destinations outlined are accessible via Highway 24, from the petroglyphs to the pie at the Gifford Homestead. Voted one of the ten most scenic drives in the world, Highway 24 even goes through part of Capitol Reef National Park without having to pay the park entrance fee. Those cruising down Highway 24 can visit Sunset and Panaroma Points, various hikes, and more, or just ride through the desert on a scenic summer drive.

Visiting foodies can head about 45 minutes from Torrey to eat at the Hell’s Backbone Grill & Farm, where the James Beard Awards selected the chef-owners as finalists for best chefs in the Mountain Region in 2020. While out there, you can take in even more scenic views from Hell’s Backbone Road and the Hell’s Backbone Bridge.

View from Devil’s Backbone Road, photo by Erik Peterson

Find Your Own Adventure

Of course, this list merely scratches the surface of all the adventure opportunities available at Fort Desolation Fest. The festival encourages visitors to “Find their own adventures” and has a list of activities on its website. Festivalgoers don’t even need to leave the grounds to enjoy the region’s status as a “Dark Sky Community,” considered one of the best places to see the Milky Way Galaxy at night. Additionally, with so much to do in the vicinity of Torrey, UT, the festival encourages visitors to arrive a few days early or stay a few days after to enjoy everything the region has to offer.

Find your own adventure at Fort Desolation Fest 2024. Tickets are on sale here. Check out some breathtaking photos of the Torrey, UT area courtesy of photographer Erik Peterson.

Fort Desolation Festival 2024

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Source: L4LM.com