|Today we visited Capitol Reef National Park, a hidden treasure filled with cliffs, canyons, domes and bridges in the Waterpocket Fold, a geologic monocline (a wrinkle on the earth) extending almost 100 miles. The Waterpocket Fold has been beset by erosion since its creation. Erosion includes weathering, the transportation of material, chemical wearing, and the effects of gravity. Frost, plant roots, internal water seepage, and flash floods have all played a part in the drama of Capitol Reef. Deposition, uplift, and erosion are the major geologic processes which created this landscape. The fold forms a north-to-south barrier that even today has barely been breached by roads. Early settlers referred to parallel, impassable ridges as "reefs", from which the park gets the second half of its name. The first paved road was constructed through the area in 1962. Today, State Route 24 cuts through the park traveling east and west between Canyonlands National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park, but few other paved roads invade the rugged landscape.
The park, established in 1971, preserves 241,904 acres. "Capitol Reef" is the name of an especially rugged and spectacular segment of the Waterpocket Fold near the Fremont River. The area was named for a line of white domes and cliffs of Navajo Sandstone, each of which looks somewhat like the United States Capitol building. There is a 16 mile round-trip scenic drive starting at the Visitor Center. Although this " Virtual Tour" is free, there is a $5.00 entrance fee when you come to the park to drive the Scenic Drive unless you have the Golden Age Pass, which of course we do. We began our day by watching an 18 minute film, which was well done by the way, explaining the beautiful landscape of multi-hued rock layers all around us.
Just up the road is the 71-site Fruita Campground as well as the Ripple Rock Nature Center. Next is the Fruita Historic District, a Mormon settlement dating from the late 1800's. Apple, peaches, cherry, pears & apricot trees grow in the Fruita orchards. You may pick & eat fruit free of charge when available, unfortunately it was not in season for us today. Would have loved that! We did enjoy a homemade blueberry scone at the Gifford farmhouse & store. After making our purchase we drove the paved Scenic portion of the road until we reached the unpaved Capitol Gorge spur road. It was amazing! When the road finally dead ends there is a 2 mile roundtrip hike available if you like. We started that hike but it was 86 degrees today & we hadn't gone far before we decided to turn back. It was after 3pm & frankly, we were ready to head for food, drinks and a recliner!
But what an enjoyable road trip we had. We loved it! Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings. See you then....
P.S. Today is our beautiful granddaughter Maya's 2nd birthday! Happy Birthday Miss Maya, Papa & I love you sooo much!