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.
Capitol Reef National Park is not as popular as other national parks, but I made my second visit there today. This is the high season so the park was full of visitors from campers and hikers to people who are just passing through. However, the crowds were not like those usually seen at Bryce Canyon or Grand Canyon.
I took many pictures of well known and spectacular rock formations in the park, but I think the following may be more interesting.
The Fremont people lived in the area from about 600 to 1300 CE. They carved very nice petroglyphs into the rock walls along the Fremont river.