2nd Annual Thanksgiving in a western National Park -- Capitol Reef NP

  • November 21, 2012 · 7:00 AM

2nd Annual Thanksgiving in a western National Park

- Capitol Reef NP -

Then hike, backpack, bike, photograph, canyoneer,adventure

--- options and choices can be yours ---

This is  a cross-posted event with the Grand Junction, CO 'Western Slope Adventurers' MeetUp, founded by the founders of our group, Doug Van Etten & Mary Hertert. You can go to the WSA web site to see more discussion as Thanksgiving comes near.


In Capitol Reef National Park (overview map) we will:

- Car camp for at least Thursday night - Thanksgiving Day at Fruita Campground

- Bring a FEAST to share in the campground on Turkey Day

- Day hike (unlimited opportunities for short, medium or long hikes)  

- Mountain or road bike (6-8 different destinations. It is not the famous White Rim but, it'll be scenic and fun)

- Backpack (for those who choose to do this there are many 1 or 2, or more, night options)

- Canyoneering in the national park or within easy driving distance to Dirty Devil River, Ticaboo Springs, Poison Springs and other popular areas.


Plan to arrive on Wednesday, Nov. 21st or early enough on Thanksgiving Day to participate in a group feast about 2-3 PM.

Stay for as long as you want. Many of us will be here through Sunday, Nov 25th.


There will be plenty of room for tents so do not bring your little tiny backpacker (unless you are going on a backpack trip Fri-Sat-Sun). If anyone has a trailer, camper or other camping vehicle, they are welcome and encouraged too bring/ come with that. As a matter of fact, if you have a vehicle with cooking capability, maybe you would be willing to do things like be the local coffee shop each morning (just a suggestion, not required), etc.




- All your standard car camping gear

- Stove, pots n pans, dish pans, dishes, table cloth, cooler, dutch oven ( charcoal), etc

- Firewood (lots of it since there is none at the sight and we will have 3-4 nights)

- Camp/ lawn chair

- Tent/sleeping bag/pad/pillow

- Large canopy or mega-sized tarp with poles (optional but great if we get weather)

- Lantern (propane, solar or battery powered)

- Muscial instruments

- Telescope &/or binoculars (we will have a 1/2 moon on the 21st and increasing each night)

- Warm clothes ( in layers so you can dress up or down with day/night temps)

- gloves, warm hats, neck gaiter, long underwear, wind/rainproof shell

- Sturdy shoes/ boots for hiking

- Camp shoes, warm stand/sit-around clothes

- No need for bug juice

- Mountain bike (if you want to ride 1 or more days, good dirt roads right from camp)

- Hiking/trekking/ skiing poles (optional. Bring rubber tips to not mar the soft sandstone)


This will be car camping based so it's a perfect opportunity to bring the 'future outdoors (wo)men of America.


Not allowed in the national park.


This would be VERY GOOD. Please note in your RSVP where/ when you will be coming and if you want riders or a ride. Post your cell #, when you can leave/return and other rlevant info.

Drive time from SLC should be ~4-4.5 hours.

Drive time from Grand Junction should be ~3-3.5 hours.

From Denver, add on the drive time Denver to GJ.

From Las Vegas ~5.5-6 hours

If any Alaskans are joining us, I suggest flying into Las Vegas or Salt Lake City. I suspect air fare and rental cars will be cheaper in LV. The drive will be beautiful either way and is on very good roads, either way crossing 1 or 2 passes.


Let's bring all the Thanksgiving feasting you might have at home. You may want to pre-cook and reheat, cook in a Dutch Oven, or . . . prepare a dish(es) in camp, however you choose.

As time gets closer we can start making a list of who wants to bring what but I am hoping we will have at the least: Appetizers. Turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes/ yams, string beans, cranberries &/or cranberry sauce. We want to be sure to have ham, non-meat main dishes, plenty of potatoes and yams; veggies, salads, bread, desserts. Desserts to definitely include pies of a variety of holiday types.

As for all the rest of the meals - I will bring a 3-burner propane stove and if others can do similarly we may be able to set up cooking groups so we don't need a lot of little camp stoves running at each hot meal.

I suggest that we do at least one group breakfast but that can be worked out as the dates near.

If is like last year, PLEASE bring empty plastic containers for leftovers and, like so often at home, we can feast on these for Friday and Saturday.

Bring all your food - the nearest stores or Restaurants are in Hanksville orTorrey: 36 or 11 miles away.

Campfire Smores making will be encouraged so bring green wood sticks or metal coat hangers for the marshmellows.We will have to bring all the wood we want for campfires as there is none to cut or gather in the park area.


The park service says the group site is not open (but I will call to see if we can get it opened) so I will let you read here what the campsite situation is. The fee may be $10/site for 2 tents. This will include picnic table, running water and toilets. There are no showers at Fruita Campground and the closest showers will be in Torrey, UT, 11 miles away.

Please plan to contribute ~$10 to a group food fund. We will use this to be sure that if one person brings a $35 turkey and someone else brings a $3 loaf of garlic bread that we sort of help equalize costs for all. Excess $$ will be refunded.


Please tell where you are coming from, when you want to leave and if you want to carpool or caravan; what you may want to do for recreation; and, as the time comes near, please tell what you'll bring to help is all be sure of having a well rounded Thanksgiving dinner.


On average, we'll have days in the 50's and nights in the low 30's. Nice camping weather if you are in to it; or, plan to stay indoors in Torrey or Hanksville.


Doug Van Etten [masked]

^^^^ A Growing List of Possible Adventures for This Holiday Weekend ^^^^

Sulpher Creek Hike (bring neoprene socks to go in old running shoes)

Join or login to comment.

  • Greg P.

    Very nice set of photos, Qianyu. Thanks for sharing. What a gorgeous landscape!

    December 1, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Awesome get-together with Doug, Mary and advernturers from Western Slope. It was great to learn a new sport - Canyoneering.

    November 30, 2012

  • Doug Van E.

    We had a handful of us from western CO plus 1 or 2 from Anchorage, Denver, Albuquerque; and DROVES from Salt Lake City and environs -- WOW great group!!!! Wonderful 1. people 2. food 3. weather 4. canyoneering 5. hiking 6. campfires 7. Cap Reef park staff 8. . . . . It was all the absolute best. Thanks to Mary for all her organizing efforts on the food before hand and almost everything during the weekend. Thanks to all the great chefs - our 2 Spaniards in the kitchen, turkey smokers - 3Doug and Eli, those who brought all the other food, stoves, tables, firewood and everything else that made the weekend such a success. Already beginning to think about where we will do the '3rd Annual . . .' next thanksgiving. Open to suggestions (and some people are hoping for 'warmer').

    November 25, 2012

  • Doug Van E.

    Remember you can read many more comments about this event and how things are shaping up by clicking http://www.meetup.com/WesternSlopeAdventurers/events/42581932/comments/131092542/?a=ed1_17&reply=1&_af_eid=42581932&_af=event

    November 10, 2012

  • Doug Van E.

    There will be plenty of non-meat items for thanksgiving. If you want, you can go back and look at the photos from last year (a couple are on this calendar page for this year) and you will see there is PLENTY of VEG food - various potatoe, tofu and veggie dishes, salads and more. I know of at least 1 vegan coming who I am confident will make a vegan main dish. If other vegans or vegetraians do the same, it will work out great. And, we can always announce for the meat eaters to please go light on eating the specific "V" foods until it is sure that all those folks are served.

    October 2, 2012

  • Doug Van E.

    For any of you coming who may know now or decide later that you want to join the fun but stay indoors -- when I was in Torrey recently I was told that the Best Western and one other 'chain' motel whose name I do not recall right now are the sure bets to be open at Thanksgiving time. With that in mind, how about someone who knows they want to stay indoors, contact them and see about a 'group rate' at one or the other of the chain motels?

    September 27, 2012

  • Doug Van E.

    Talk with MeetUp member Laurie Lyons about the fun she and 2 others had being part of the 1st annual Thanksgiving MeetUp in Utah national parks last year in Canyonlands.

    July 21, 2012

45 went

  • Doug Van E.
    The One and Only Doug the First, Assistant Organizer
    Event Host
  • Mary h.
  • A former member

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