Nestled over the hill and through the woods, Wayne County is a small county in Utah with some of the most diverse landscapes in the state. Red rock vistas kiss up against majestic pine covered mountains. Rolling meadows of peach, apple, and plum orchards with snaking rivers make friends with deep canyons. Here the winters are cold and summers are full of color. It is also a bit of a time capsule. Untouched by the hustle and bustle of a big city, many of the small towns still have dirt roads and the total population of the whole county does not exceed 2,500. It is about 23 miles long running north to south, and 105 miles long running east to west. The county is about 2,475 square miles with 97% of the land belonging to Federal and State Governments.
This beautiful land covered in trails that time forgot, is where the Burns enterprise was born. And this diverse landscape continues to inspire the Burns family today.
If you’ve never had the opportunity to visit, it is one to add to the bucket list. Here are some highlights not to miss.
A red rock haven, Capitol Reef National Park is filled with cliffs, canyons, domes and bridges. The geological landforms created in the Waterpocket Fold and Cathedral Valley are certainly a wonder to behold. The history of this land dates back to Archaic hunters and gathers and was settled in the 1800s by the Mormon pioneers.
Those who grew up in Wayne County rode bikes 3 hours from Bicknell to swim in the pools created by the waterfalls near the mouth of Capitol Reef. The orchards of Fruita contained within the park offered an afternoon snack before the long ride home. If you are lucky and encounter the Fruita Historical District during harvest time, you can still sample the fresh fruit today.
Whether you are a hiker or rider there is a way for you to explore this majestic park. Take a bike, take a horse, ride in a car, or lace up your boots. There are over 140 miles of roads in and around the park and over 150 miles of trails and backcountry routes.
Torrey, UT is a charming little town along Route 24 and 8 miles from the west entrance of Capitol Reef National Park. The trees lining the main drive through the town will enchant you. These trees flourish because of the years-old Torrey Canal that chases the road through town. The population of Torrey is not more than 200, but this little town attracts thousands. With a handful of hotels and camping sites, many choose Torrey as a resting spot during their visit to Capitol Reef. Small as it is, Torrey is a fantastic destination for a memorable meal. Slackers Burger Joint should be on your lunch list, then save room for The Saddlery where you can have venison chili or steakhouse style bison for dinner. Stay one more night, just to eat at Café Diablo where you can also sample fine cuisine and local art and culture.
If your timing is good, you will find a dance at the Big Apple, or be in town for Torrey’s famous Apple Days.
The locals are proud of these rugged mountains and the abundant opportunities for fishing and hunting. The Boulder Mountain has over 100 lakes and offers some of the best fishing in Utah. Study a map well and research your options. A trip to the Boulder requires planning and strategy as some of the lakes are only accessed with OHVs. Those who are passionate about the fishing here are not likely to share their secrets with you. If hunting and fishing are not on your agenda, simply take a drive around the rim where you will experience views and panoramic mountain vistas unlike any other.
For a stop near civilization, camp at the Sunglow campground near Bicknell, UT. It’s not too far from town, but just far enough to help you feel isolated from the rest of the world. Among the red rock formations, you will be able to relax, hike, and then run into town for a slice of pie at the Sunglow Restaurant.