Thursday, October 9, 2014

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef NP is probably the most under appreciated amongst the five parks in Utah. Most people just take a quick drive through and miss some of most interesting sights. We were able to stay 3 days and see much of the park.

Cathedral Valley in Capitol Reef NP
The picture above and the few that follow are from a seldom-visited section of the park called Cathedral Valley. You need a high clearance vehicle to navigate the 58-mile drive through the valley, including crossing the 3 foot high Fremont river. The views are spectacular and this is considered one of the best areas of the park.

Denise with our rented Jeep at the Temple of the Moon

Temples of the Sun and Moon in Cathedral Valley
Layers of brilliant color 

There is also a paved scenic drive in the main park with several hiking opportunities. The rock patterns are very interesting and different from what you see in the other Utah parks.

View from Panoramic Poiunt

Denise on a rock cliff as we hiked

On another day we drove the Burr trail which allows you to see the Waterpocket fold, the main geological feature in the park. This is a warp in the earth's cruse that formed 65 million years ago - the largest of it's kind in North America. It's kind of hard to capture on film but here is an attempt.

The Waterpocket fold - a warp in the earth's crust
At one point on the Burr trail you drive down the wall of the Fold via a set of switchbacks. This was pretty exciting. The following is not my picture (it was "borrowed" from an National Park service site) but it shows how the road manages to get down the Fold. 

Burr trail switchbacks which we descended

On the Burr trail we came upon a small slot canyon. It only went for about 1/4 mile and then abruptly ended in a vertical wall.

A small slot canyon off the Burr Trail

End of the Slot
This ended our tour of the Capitol Reef NP area. The area was quite a surprise - I didn't expect that the scenery would be so amazing. It's worth more than a simple drive through if you have the time.

Our motorhome on Utah State Route 95

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