Capitol Reef National Park

Expose yourself to too much of anything and you can become a bit jaded.  Maybe that’s why Hollywood marriages sometimes last barely longer than a summer thunderstorm.  Maybe that’s why we alternate Presidents between the red and the blue parties.  Maybe that’s why I want only a couple Snickers after dinner.

 

Egyptian Temple Rock Formation
Egyptian Temple Rock Formation
The Lovely Fremont River
The Lovely Fremont River

Kat and I may have suffered National Park burnout.  Maybe it’s just too much sandstone, but that’s what Utah has. Still, the Park Service does something different here: Capitol Reef doubles as a salute to pioneer Mormon settlers, and many of those old buildings, preserved so well, are open to the public.  So are their vast groves of fruit trees – peaches, apples, pears, apricots, and mulberries.  You are allowed to pick a bag of fruit for personal use, but only if the crop is ready.  Nothing was ripe, so we ate no fruit.

 

Gifford House:  Still Has Curb Appeal
Gifford House: Still Has Curb Appeal
The Story of Fruita, the Village
The Story of Fruita, as Told By Wallace Stegner, Author, Professor of English, Environmentalist, and Teacher of Ken Kesey, Ernest Gaines, and Larry McMurtry.
Gee-Gaws at the Gifford House
Gee-Gaws at the Gifford House

Capitol Reef is home to the country’s largest monocline.  That’s a situation where land folds over itself as a result of continental drift, tectonic plate action, and all that.  Sometimes a monocline traps oil, but here it trapped water.  That’s bad news if you’re a real life J. R. Ewing, but pretty good news if you’re a bird, a chipmunk, a mule deer, or something that eats them.

 

Eph Hanks Tower
Eph Hanks Tower
One Big Cottonwood
One Big Cottonwood

Capitol Reef is not in the same league with Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, or Glacier, but it is very clean, beautiful, and is an altogether different canyon system from each of the three we saw before this.  We spent two nights in the Park’s First-Come, First-Served campground, Fruita, named after the settlement and those abundant orchards that bloom along the Fremont River.  The orchards were wildly productive, thanks to its alluvial soils and the elaborate irrigation system those early settlers put in by taking out dirt one shovel at a time.  The Park Service has preserved a Mormon blacksmith shop, a barn, a schoolhouse, the county’s first tractor (the Amish are anti-progress, but Mormons are all for it).  The Gifford House has been preserved and now serves as a bakery/café supplied by a local Bed & Breakfast.  The B&B may or may not be operated by 21st century members of the Church of Latter Day Saints.  We had a to-go breakfast from the Gifford House of good but undistinguished pumpkin scone and a heavy-on-the-sugar cinnamon roll.

 

Walkers with Pull Toys, Or, Wish I Had Been This Good a Dad
Walkers with Pull Toys, Or, Wish I Had Been This Good a Dad

There’s a lot to see here and Kat took some excellent pictures.  I will let them speak for themselves.

Gnarly Sunset
Gnarly Sunset

4 thoughts on “Capitol Reef National Park

  1. There are some great free boondocking locations on public land just outside the park. Wonder if you discovered or used any of them? Our favorite is just east of the park on South Pleasant Creek Rd (off Notom Rd). Coordinates are: N38.25738º W111.11866º .
    Others (both east, west, and south of the park) are listed in my Frugal Shunpiker’s Guide for Boondocking in Utah (details at http://www.frugal-rv-travel.com).

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    1. We found an excellent, shady campsite in Fruita, the Reef’s main campground. It was maybe $7 a night with America the Beautiful.

      Free would have been better, but when you find a level, paved site for reasonable dinero, that is extremely convenient … it’s time to splurge.

      Thanks for checking us out,

      Jackson

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  2. Haven’t ever been to Capitol Reef, but it is now on the list. I know what you mean about landscape burnout. As beautiful as the Organ Mountains were as a daily backdrop, I used to periodically experience too much brown and tan at White Sands Missile Range. To overcome the burnout I’d head about 60 miles to the east to the green mountains of Ruidoso, NM. A day of green would heal a summer’s worth of brown. Great post. Keep it up. Truly interesting.

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    1. Live with a lot of rain for your first 40 years, and the desert can become a bit much.

      Thanks for reading, us, Sarge!

      Jackson

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