Capitol Reef National Park

We didn’t have too long of a drive Sunday morning to get to our next Rock Tour destination – Capitol Reef National Park. But the ride certainly was interesting getting there!
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We did get an early start – when you’re parked in a rest stop, it’s pretty much a get up and go kind of morning!
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Are those crazy colors, or what?
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Just when I thought I knew what to expect (like more rocks) as we pulled into Capitol Reef NP, the scenery changed to this –
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and we driving through orchards and green trees. What?????
This national park is an interesting mix of major geological activity and historic settlements. Now I didn’t know anything about Capitol Reef, did you? The reef refers to “The Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile long wrinkle in the earth’s crust known as a monocline, [that] extends from nearby Thousand Lakes Mountain to the Colorado River (now Lake Powell). ” The Capitol part refers to rock formations that someone (on the park naming committee, I suppose) thought looked like the capitol building in Washington, DC.
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And historically, this was the home to early Mormon settlers who had a small but thriving community here. They planted orchards, grew vegetables, and helped develop transportation routes through the “fold”. There are only a few buildings left, but many of the orchards are still intact, and producing!
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In fact, our campground was right in the midst of one of them!
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We started out with the scenic drive, took in a couple of hikes, and then I tried very hard to “catch” the sunset.
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How crazy are those striped rocks?
Our main hike was to The Tanks – natural basins that collect rain water. The hike started town Capitol Gorge Wash
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and then climbed to the tanks –
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Gary did a little extra exploring and found two more tanks, and a natural bridge.
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Very cool.
Another high point along this narrow canyon trail is the “Pioneer Register”. Now that is acutally just another name for old graffiti – but as they, perspective is everything!
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Those names were really quite high –
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and we were duly impressed!
Others were definitely a little less neatly recorded!
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And the cursive – now that was impressive!
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But the drive continued…..
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We did find some additional graffiti – again, this was pretty special stuff (and trust me, we had lots of help finding it!)
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And then there was the sunset adventure. Seems that even though the sunset was at 8:15, when you are driving through these big rocks, it actually happens much earlier. SO, while I didn’t get any shots of the sun actually setting, I did enjoy the beautiful light of the setting sun on the west facing rocks-
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But for all of my mad dash down the scenic highway to capture that sunset, I think my favorite shot was right as I got out of the truck back at the campground –
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So even though Capitol Reef might not be one of the Big Parks (like the Grand Canyon or Bryce), it still was a good stop. There were lots of great hiking trails and enough history thrown is so we weren’t O-D-ing on rocks!
And speaking of history –
Since today was mainly a travel day (and we even managed to travel through those snowy mountains!), after we got settled in our campground we decided to check out a national monument that had NOTHING TO DO WITH ROCKS. Yep, it was quite the nice change of pace.
Let me introduce you to the Pipe Spring National Monument, located back in Arizona on the Paiute Indian Reservation. This was originally a fort-home for a Mormon Tithe Farm. (Well, originally it was the homeland of the Paiutes, but the main focus here was the working farm.) There was an interesting guided tour of the house and a self guided tour of the grounds. I think this is a pretty new joint endeavor for the Paiutes and the Federal Government and we found it totally interesting!
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Tomorrow we are meeting up with some SOWER friends we haven’t seen in several years at Zion National Park. We’re excited about the park (we’ve heard really great things about this park), and we’re excited about seeing these dear friends. The friend connection was an unexpected blessing!
But now, I have to get some sleep! I sense there is hiking in my near future!

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