Sunday, June 5, 2011

Capitol Reef National Park

If 100 people were asked to name a National Park, chances are no more than one or two would mention Capitol Reef. Prior to planning our Utah adventures, we didn't even know such a place existed. The obscurity of this park is understandable. It's way off the beaten path. The nearest stoplight is reportedly 78 miles away. We believe it. We are definitely out in the middle of nowhere. But, this part of "nowhere" is absolutely gorgeous.

The "reef" is the Waterpocket Fold, which runs for hundreds of miles and is one of the largest in North America. Our visit was spent in the area around the Visitor's Center, along the Fremont River. Every view was a photo waiting to happen!

At Sunset Point, Paul found a lofty perch to get a shot.

I was happy to see him climb down, but the results were lovely. This would be a spectacular place to watch the sunset.

It seems that Capitol Reef is the kind of place that makes it easy for photographers to put themselves in a precarious position. Don't know if you can tell, but we were climbing around in some pretty stiff breezes!

Here's the result of my balancing act high above Sulphur Creek from the Goosenecks Overlook.

For a closer look at the rugged reef, we spent an afternoon along the 25-mile Scenic Drive.

Traveling in our trusty Jeep, we were able to take the dirt road spurs off the main road. The first took us into Grand Wash.

The domes and cliffs of Grand Wash have quite a history. If you click on this picture and look closely at its center you'll see Cassidy Arch. According to local legend, the outlaw Butch Cassidy used this canyon as hideout. Reportedly, he and his gang were chased off by an early pioneer brandishing the Book of Mormon.

Rocky provides some scale to the massive canyons of Grand Wash.

Our walk through the wash was especially scenic.

At the end of the Scenic Drive we came to a 2-mile spur into Capitol Gorge. Rocky just couldn't resist the chance to take on this winding dirt road. And, neither could we!

This is one Scenic Drive that definitely lives up to its name!

Back on the main highway, we enjoyed an easy two-mile hike on one of the park's most popular and picturesque trails.

When you're on a picturesque trail, it's not about the hike. It's about the pictures!

Along the way, we spotted some very interesting - and messy looking - rock formations.

Finally, we reached the formation we came to see. Is that an arch? Nope. It's Hickman Natural Bridge.

Hickman Bridge is one of the largest rock spans in the park. Its opening is 125-feet tall and 133-feet wide.

On our way back to the trailhead, we caught a good look at the park's namesake: Capitol Dome. It is named after the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Can you see the resemblance?

Take a closer look and use a little imagination. Can you see it now?

The next time someone asks us to name a National Park, Capitol Reef will be at the top of our list. It's definitely worth the drive off the beaten path.


John and Ellen said...

Absolutely gorgeous photos of what I believe to be our prettiest state in this country. That’s a great story about Butch Cassidy being chased off by an early pioneer with his Book of Mormon, makes me think that the “word” may in fact be mightier than the sword, or even a six shooter. Thanks for the great post!


Sue and Doug said...

great tour of Capital Reef..we have never heard of it either!..but it looks like it was a great jeeping day!!

Jim and Sandie said...

It's been on my list for UT since we started out. Haven't made it yet so thanks for the great tour.

E Squared and Mui said...

Another Utah park we didn't make it to while we were there, but definitely high on our list when we get on the road. Thanks for showing us what we have to look forward to.

Chuck and Anneke's RV travels said...

Great tour of a beautiful place. It is on our list.