Capitol Reef National Park, near Torrey in Utah, owes its name to two of its natural features: whitish rock formations that look like the Capitol dome in Washington, DC; and the giant Waterpocket Fold that stretches from North to South making the rock walls pushed up from the earth look like reefs. There was no easy way to cross the area from East to West until Highway 24 was built in 1962.
I drove on the paved section of Notom Road which ran for 34 miles (54 km) on the East side of Capitol Reef. That’s where the Waterpocket Fold rock wall stretching for miles was clearly visible.
Despite these geologic obstacles, Mormon pioneers began settling in the area in the late 1870’s. They established a community named Fruita along the Fremont River, planted fruit trees and raised animals. Fruita is now within the park boundaries and the Mormons have been bought out and moved away, but the orchards are still productive with about 3,000 trees. In season, visitors can pick and eat fruit for free, or pay a small fee if they take it home.
The Gifford family was the last family to be bought out by the government in 1969. Their house now serves as a museum where souvenirs, fruit pies, and ice cream are sold!
The following morning, the sun put on a beautiful sunrise. I took these photos from the hotel which was only 2 miles from Capitol Reef.