Glorious Utah, into Capitol Reef

It was an early morning start from the "Snuggle Inn" in Loa. The sun was catching the irrigation systems in the fields and we passed a herd of bison in a field, not roaming free unfortunately but worth investigating. We passed through the little town of Torrey and entered  Capitol Reef National Park,

Our first stop was the Visitor Centre where they were just about to start a talk about the history and geology of the Park.
Capitol Reef National Park occupies an area of 378 square miles encompassing about 3/4 of the 100 miles long Waterpocket Fold, a steep monocline or fold in the earth's crust which formed about 70 million years ago during the uplift of the Colorado Plateau. The formation is white and yellow Navajo sandstone and red Wingate sandstone, and these have been sculpted into buttressed cliffs and pinnacles by the actions of wind and water. The Fremont River and it's tributaries have formed deep canyons through the formation where the cliffs can rise as high as 300m from the canyon floor. The Park is narrow ranging from 1 to 12 miles wide.
The name Capitol Reef was coined by early travellers who had problems crossing it's steep cliffs. Again it was the Mormons who established a settlement here in the 1880's in the little hamlet of Fruita (then called Junction). The Park was established in 1937 but the road to Fruita was not paved until the early 50's and Highway-12 was not completed until 1969 so the residents were relatively untroubled by visitors until the late 60's when numbers rose to 200,000 a year. The last household moved out in 1969 and much of the hamlet was destroyed, except for a handful of buildings and the orchards which are still producing fruit.
After the talk we decided on a walk and looked for an easy one! We drove along the Fremont River until we came to a parking area for the Grand Wash trail, which is basically a tributary of the Fremont, dry in September (hopefully). The trail is 2 ½ miles long, but one way, so we did not complete it as there was too much to do in our single day. Here are some pictures from around the start. I will describe the walk in the next blog.

Map courtesy of the National Park Service


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