We left highway 95 at Hanksville and turned on highway 24 to drive toward Capitol Reef National Park and Torrey, UT. We first went to Torrey to check in at our hotel then drove back to Capitol Reef.
Perhaps not as well known as the four other national parks in Utah, Capitol Reef still has a lot to offer in terms of scenery, hiking trails, and camping facilities. We certainly needed more time to explore it, but unfortunately we did not and had to limit ourselves to the central area around Fruita.
Before arriving to Fruita and the Visitor Center, Chimney Rock stood unmistakably by the side of highway 24. There are hiking trails starting from there, with one leading along Sulphur Creek to the Visitor Center. It is supposed to be an easy 8-mile river hike, provided one has a ride back to Chimney Rock.
As usual click on the images to view them in full size.
We next went to the Goosenecks Overlook and looked down 800 ft at Sulphur Creek winding its way through the canyon.
Just before turning right in the Scenic Drive, The Castle, a popular landmark, displays its fluted walls in full splendor. I actually took the photos below two days earlier on our way to Moab.
We drove on the 8.2-mile Scenic Drive past orchards of cherry, pear, apple, peach and apricot. However, a ranger told us that there would be no fruit this year, perhaps because of a late frost. Otherwise, cherries would have been in season, and free to pick and eat on the spot.
Capitol Reef owes part of its name to white sandstone formations that look like domes of the Capitol in Washington, DC. At the end of the Scenic Drive and Capitol Gorge Road, there was a huge dome, on top of which sat the Golden Throne at 7,042 ft. Lighting was not optiomal, as most of the dome was in the shadow, and I had to take three images and use HDR to combine them into the following photo.
The drive has incredible rock formations crowding both sides of the road, sometimes so close that it seemed like you could almost touch them. I just didn’t have time to take enough photos to do them justice, but here’s one with bright colors revealed by the sunset.
Finally, we went to Panorama Point just off highway 24 to take this shot of The Castle at sunset.