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Journeys Through America is a nonprofit organization providing educational material for all school-aged children across the country. The program will form partnerships with local school districts to provide children with a new, interactive, educational experience integrating the history of America and its National Parks. Journeys Through America's goal is to foster a fun and adventurous learning environment that will promote altruistic growth within our children and our greater community.

Capitol Reef National Park

By Oct 12th 2010 No Comments »

One of the lesser traveled parks in Utah but still as breathtaking, Capitol Reef National Park lies in the south central area of the state, surrounded by the impressive sandstone structures, narrow canyons and multicolored cliffs of the Waterpocket Fold.  The Waterpocket Fold is a naturally-occurring phenomenon.  Essentially, the earth’s crust warps, folds and crumbles on itself, creating a step-like land formation. The Waterpocket Fold extends for just over 100 miles in the desert of central Utah and is the main geological feature of Capitol Reef National Park.  The area is well-known for its exceptionally beautiful hiking trails, and of course, the national park.

We arrived at Capitol Reef having just come from Bryce Canyon and Zion, so of course, our expectations were high and we hoped its scenic beauty mirrored that found at the other parks in the state. Needless to say, we were not let down.  We arrived from the West, passing through more of Dixie National Forest and portions of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  The terrain was extremely diverse – with the Hoodoos of Bryce and Dixie dominating the landscape, to the natural arches of Escalante. Nonetheless, the drive was an amazing example of the power of earth’s natural forces (wind) and natural processes (erosion).

We arrived at the park mid-morning.  As soon as we entered the park, I honestly felt like a kid in a candy store. I couldn’t stop pulling the car over to get a photo. I almost felt bad for Karianne, although I knew she wanted to stop as badly as I did.  I snapped hundreds of images, and was so enormously impressed with the magnificent colors in the rock formations against the intensely blue hues of the Utah sky. It was a painter’s dream landscape and a visionary’s masterpiece right at your fingertips.

We started our journey into the park at the visitor’s center where you are inundated with loads of information about the history of the park, its hiking trails, the popular scenic drive, and pretty much anything else you would need to know about Capitol Reef.  Interestingly enough, Capitol Reef was once called the ‘Wayne Wonderland’ and until just recently, has been located in one of the most remote areas within the lower 48 states. It was not until the early 1960’s that travel into the park became easy and accessible with the construction of Route 24 through Utah.

In the 1880’s, Mormons came to the Fremont River area and established Junction (which later became known as Fruita), Caineville and Aldridge.  Only Fruita survived and managed to thrive as a small mormon town of about ten families.  Today, remains of Fruita are still visible in the park, including the small Fruita schoolhouse, and even kilns which were once used to produce lime can still be seen near the park’s campground.  However, dominating the remains of the ghost town of Fruita are its 300 acres of orchards.  Apples, peaches, cherries and pears flourished off the rich soil of the Fremont River Valley area.

After our usual ritual of gathering loads of information at the visitor’s center, we decided to start first with the scenic drive which takes you on a 10 mile drive into the Grand Wash and Capitol Gorge.  From there we headed to the apple and peach orchards where visitors are able to pick their own fruits for a small fee.  After gathering a small bag of fresh fruit we continued on our drive through the park, making stops at all the beautiful scenic vistas and even saw some petroglyphs,

Overall, our time at Capitol Reef was short. We were only spending one day, and in fact the only time we had troubles getting a camping spot was at this park.  After arriving around 11:00AM we found that the campground was already full for the night.  Without hiking, we were able to experience quite a bit of the park, and both left feeling as though we had spent more time there then we actually did.  Capitol Reef is such a unique park – the beautiful landscape that surrounds you is seen nowhere else in the state and overwhelms you with wonderful sensations.  I look forward to going back to the park to do some backcountry hiking since that is what the Waterpocket Fold is best known for.

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