Thursday, September 24, 2009

My New Favorite Place Is Capitol Reef

A 100 mile long "Waterpocket Fold" in the earth defines Capitol Reef. Much of the park is accessible only by backpacking. The historic Fruita area and a 10 mile paved park road are easy to visit.

Fruita was a small community settled in the 1880s by Mormon settlers. The Fremont River allowed settlers to farm, creating the many orchards that exist today. At most, only ten families lived in this valley, which was somewhat isolated due its remote location.

Franklin Roosevelt designated Capitol Reef a National Monument, then in the 1960s Capitol Reef was established as a National Park. Utah Hwy 24 was paved around that time and access to the area became easier. Today the park’s facilities—visitor center, historic buildings, orchards park road and campgrounds can be found just off Hwy 24.

Our campsite at sunset.

We really enjoyed the campground that is adjacent to one of the orchards. The fruit is Pick Your Own for $1.00 per pound, with bags and scales available. Several herds of mule deer browse the orchards with the human visitors. There are shower/restrooms available. The camping is dry as there are no hookups at the sites. There are no reservations and we were lucky to get there early enough to get a spot. The campground filled shortly after we arrived. Although the campgrounds were full, there weren’t the crowds as in other parks we visited.

These mule deer are local park residents. You can see they aren't bothered as this man approaches.

We took the park road; the first 10 miles are paved. At the end of the pavement you can take the South Draw road/ trail which connects with Hwy 12 to the west but is designated for high clearance 4x4 vehicles or the mile long Capitol Gorge road, which is a must see. We drove along a wash and at the end is a hiking trail that leads to petroglyphs, pioneer writing and the tanks, rock pockets where rainwater collects. We walked a short way together and Tom turned back. I continued on alone for a while and would have kept on going if someone else were in sight. But being the chicken that I am turned around and came back.

Tom on the Capitol Gorge trail.

We came back and drove the park road and Grand Wash after supper. I wanted to get some pictures with the setting sun hitting the rocks. The setting sun seemed to make the cliffs glow. It was quite beautiful.

Sunset at Capitol Reef

We went to the ranger program that evening but it got so cool that we didn’t stay for the whole thing. We didn’t dress properly. When you stay at a state or Federal campground you can easily take advantage of the ranger programs and activities.

Sue in Capitol Gorge

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