Tuesday, May 19, 2015

On the Road: Capitol Reef National Park

(Photo credit: memyselfandtheinterstate.com)
To the west are Bryce and Zion and to the east are CanyonLands and Arches. In the middle of Utah's Majestic Five is Capitol Reef National Park. This area, which was made a national park in 1971, is 100 miles long. It is located on UT 24 between the towns of Torrey and Caineville. The nearest interstate is Interstate 70. Those coming in from the east should take Exit 149 and head south on UT 24. Travelers from the west should take Exit 40 and go right on UT 120 South, left on UT 118 North, right on UT 199 east and then go right on UT 24.

(Photo credit: memyselfandtheinterstate.com)
As with any national park, visitors would be wise to check the National Park Service website to obtain information to make their time in Capitol Reef rewarding and safe. The Park Service will give suggestions as to possible itineraries for those who have only a limited amount of time to spend in the park. No restaurant or lodge is available. Water is available at the Visitors Center and the campground. Baked goods and snacks are for sale at the Gifford House Store and Museum during the summer.

The park service provides descriptions of all the trails in the park. The length and time of each trail are listed in addition the elevation change and scenery. Trails are rated for difficulty. The easy trails are Capitol Gorge, Goosenecks, Grand Wash and Sunset Point. Cohab Canyon, Fremont River and Hickman Bridge are the moderate trails. The strenuous trails in this park are not lengthy, but the elevations are high. These are Cassidy Arch, Chimney Rock Loop, Fremont Gorge Overlook, Frying Pan, Golden Throne, Navajo Knobs, Old Wagon Trail Loop and Rim Overlook.

(Photo credit: memyselfandtheinterstate.com)
Also available on the website are the three auto tours. The Scenic Drive section has eleven stops and the Park Service has provided a description for each stop. The Cathedral Valley tour is 59 miles long and the Waterpocket District one is 125 miles long. For these last two tours, the roads can be muddy and not many visitors travel these sections. For that reason, the Park Service warns travelers who venture into these areas that help may not arrive to them for hours or days if they run into trouble. People should be prepared with food and water.

On UT 24 to the east of the Visitors Center is the Fruita Schoolhouse which has been restored from when the Mormons settled there in the 1880s. The orchards provide fresh fruit in season. It is free for travelers to eat on the property, but a fee is charges for those who want to take fruit with them.

(Photo credit: memyselfandtheinterstate.com)
In addition to the wealth of information on the Park Service website, travelers can also learn more about the park by going to Trip Advisor. People give their opinions about the aspects of the park and offer suggestions to make others' trips better. On YouTube are videos visitors have taken of the park's roads and trails. These videos will show travelers whether a trail or road is right for them.

The main attraction of Capitol Reef is the Waterpocket Fold.  This is a giant buckle or warp of the Earth's crust. The park also contains a variety of land formations from arches to canyons to domes. A model of the terrain is in the Visitors Center. Visitors can see on a small scale what awaits outside. We found it helpful to view the model since it gave us a greater understanding of the layout of the area.

Each national park in Utah is different with its own personality. Those who think seeing one park means seeing them all are in error. Capitol Reef has features that are unique and well worth any vacationer's time.

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