Capitol Reef is only a small part of the Waterpocket Fold. By taking the Notom-Bullfrog Road, you’ll see nearly 80 miles of the fold’s eastern side. This route crosses some of the younger geologic layers, such as those of the Morrison Formation, that form colorful hills. In other places, eroded layers of the Waterpocket Fold jut up at 70-degree angles.
The Henry Mountains to the east and the many canyons on both sides of the road add to the memorable panoramas. The road has been paved as far as Notom, and about 25 miles are paved on the southern end near Bullfrog. The rest of the road is dirt and gravel. Most cars should have no trouble negotiating this road in good weather.
Keep an eye on the weather before setting out, though; the dirt-and-gravel surface is usually okay for cars when dry but can be dangerous for any vehicle when wet. Sandy spots and washouts may present a problem for low-clearance vehicles; contact the visitor center  to check current conditions.
Have a full gas tank and carry extra water and food because no services are available between Highway 24 and Bullfrog Marina . Purchase a small guide to this area at the visitor center. Features and mileage along the drive from north to south include the following:
“So winding that it would twist a mule pulling a wagon,” said an early visitor. This canyon has some of the best hiking in the southern district of the park. In the 1880s, Mormon pioneers used the canyon as part of a wagon route between Escalante  and new settlements in southeastern Utah, replacing the even more difficult Hole-in-the-Rock route .
Unlike most canyons of the Waterpocket Fold, Muley Twist runs lengthwise along the crest for about 18 miles before finally turning east and leaving the fold. Hikers starting from Burr Trail Road can easily follow the twisting bends down to Halls Creek, 12 miles away. Two trailheads and the Halls Creek route allow a variety of trips.
You could start from Burr Trail Road  near the top of the switchbacks (2.2 miles west of Notom-Bullfrog Road) and hike down the dry gravel streambed. After four miles, you have the options of returning the same way, taking the cutoff route east 2.5 miles to Post Trailhead (off Notom-Bullfrog Road), or continuing eight miles down Lower Muley Twist Canyon to its end at Halls Creek.
Upon reaching Halls Creek, turn left (north) and continue five miles up the creek bed or the old jeep road beside it to the Post. This section of creek lies in an open, dry valley. With a car shuttle, the Post would be the end of a good two-day, 17-mile hike, or you could loop back to Lower Muley Twist Canyon via the cutoff route and hike back to Burr Trail Road for a 23.5-mile trip. It’s a good idea to check the weather beforehand and avoid the canyon if storms threaten.
Cream-colored sandstone cliffs lie atop the red Kayenta and Wingate formations. Impressively deep undercuts have been carved into the lower canyon. Spring and autumn offer the best conditions (summer temperatures can exceed 100°F). Elevations range from 5,640 feet at Burr Trail Road to 4,540 feet at the confluence with Halls Creek to 4,894 feet at the Post.
An information sheet available at the visitor center and trailheads has a small map and route details. Topographic maps of Wagon Box Mesa, Mount Pennell, and Hall Mesa, and the 1:100,000-scale Escalante and Hite Crossing maps are sold at the visitor center. You’ll also find this hike described in David Day’s Utah’s Favorite Hiking Trails, or in the small, spiral-bound Explore Capitol Reef’s Trails, by the Capitol Reef Natural History Association, available at the visitor center. Carry all water for the trip because natural sources are often dry or polluted.
This part of the canyon has plenty of scenery. Large and small natural arches along the way add to its beauty. Upper Muley Twist Road turns north off Burr Trail Road  about one mile west of the top of a set of switchbacks. Cars can usually go in 0.5 mile to a trailhead parking area; high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicles can head another 2.5 miles up a wash to the end of the primitive road.
Look for natural arches on the left along this last section. Strike Valley Overlook Trail (0.75 mile round-trip) begins at the end of the road and leads to a magnificent panorama of Waterpocket Fold and beyond. Return to the canyon, where you can hike as far as 6.5 miles to the head of Upper Muley Twist Canyon.
Two large arches lie a short hike upstream; Saddle Arch, the second one on the left, is 1.75 miles away. The Rim Route begins across from Saddle Arch, climbs the canyon wall, follows the rim (good views of Strike Valley and the Henry Mountains), and descends back into the canyon at a point just above the narrows, 4.75 miles from the end of the road. (The Rim Route is most easily followed in this direction.) Proceed up-canyon to see several more arches.
A narrow section of canyon beginning about four miles from the end of the road must be bypassed to continue; look for rock cairns showing the way around to the right. Continuing up the canyon past the Rim Route sign will take you to several small drainages marking the upper end of Muley Twist Canyon. Climb a high, tree-covered point on the west rim for great views; experienced hikers with a map can follow the rim back to Upper Muley Road (no trail or markers on this route). Bring all the water you’ll need because there are no reliable sources in Upper Muley Twist Canyon; if you plan on camping overnight, you'll need a free backcountry hiking permit.