2013 March 8 – Capitol Reef National Park, Utah (Part 1)

The rain came down off and on all day as we toured Capitol Reef National Park.  The park is about 184 km (114 miles) north east of Bryce Canyon and is a long, thin NW-SE finger.  Highway 24 intersects the park’s wider northern section and the scenic road within Capitol Reef branches off southward for about 13 km (8 miles).

After a good night at Torrey we headed off to see the sights.                                                             Chimney Rock                 How could it possibly be called anything else? The Fruita Rural Historic District was settled by the Mormons in the late 1800’s.  The first settler is believed to have been Nels Johnson whose house was built at the current Chestnut Picnic Area.  The mild temperatures and continuous water supply made the region ideal for growing fruit trees.  Nels Johnson recognized this and was the first to plant fruit and nut trees.  Others followed and the area was soon filled with orchards.  By the time Capitol Reef National Park was created in 1971 all of the residents of Fruita had sold their land to the federal government and moved on.  The National Park Services cares for the 15 orchards in the park, which contain cherry, apricot, peach, pear, apple, plum, mulberry, almond and walnut trees.  You are free to wander through the orchards and sample the fruit but you are charged a fee if you wish to take some with you.  The coffee shop at the Gifford Homestead uses the fruit in the freshly baked pies they serve and sell.                                                     The Fremont River  The centerpiece of Capitol Reef National Park is the Waterpocket Fold, a nearly 100-mile long fold in the earth called a monocline. (This is a quote from the brochure)  The fold runs north to south through the entire park and most of the cliffs you see as you travel within the park are a part of this long fold.  I am not going to explain the geology.  If you are interested, google it.

I was constantly amazed by the different colours and patterns in the rock.  I don’t know why my camera made one photo the correct orange/red colour and the other a purple/red.  It’s the same rock wall.

At the end of the scenic road we drove down the Capitol Gorge spur road.

Continued in Part 2.

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