Capitol Reef – Who knew?

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Capitol Reef National Park

Who knew that stone could be sculpted by erosion into so many forms? Or that so many visual delights would await our family at Capitol Reef National Park!

 

 

 

Capitol Reef is a unique rock structure formed by what is called the ‘waterpocket fold”.  I had never heard of the park before my husband began planning our big family vacation.  There is a good reason why this amazing place became home to only a few Mormon pioneers, explorers, and outlaws.  It is remote!

 

 

Traveling to Capitol Reef requires many hours of driving across high Utah desert.  Such a drive might have been monotonous except that we were entertained by a symphony of cloud formations!

"For our Lord God Omnipotent Reigneth"...

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Contemplating the infinite

Symphony of clouds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If clouds could sing, I think these would be singing the “Hallelujah Chorus”.  Can’t you just hear the words when you look at sky: For our LORD God Omnipotent reigneth.  Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!

Think we took too many cloud photographs? Ha, if only you knew.

 

Capitol Reef possessed features that we found in other parks: cliffs, canyons, petriglyphs, hoodoos, arches.  There was something for everyone to enjoy.

Capitol Gorge

Everyone gets to hike Grand Wash

Our hometown of Savannah is entirely flat.  We also don’t have any rocks. Therefore the opportunity to climb rocks was a favorite activity of my boys.  The rock structures that we hiked on are called “slickrock”  and feel much safer than the sandstone or crushed rock we hiked on earlier.  Even my baby girl loved to hold and carry rocks. She even tried to conceal a few in her diaper.   An easy hike through the Grand Wash allowed all members of the family to enjoy the rocks and wildflowers up close.

Climbing slickrock

So many rocks! So little a girl!

An opportunity to look into the opening of an abandoned uranium mine made my boys feel virile and tough.  I was not impressed, but then again,  I practically grew up next door to Oak Ridge National Laboratories.

Abandoned uranium mines

I am rather partial to wildlife, and so I was thrilled to see these blue birds.  I could have watched them all day, but they were not inclined to sit still.

Love those blue birds!

The next morning my husband awoke early and peeked out to check the weather conditions.  He caught the last few moments of a spectacular sunrise.  When he stopped photographing for a moment to change his lens, the moment had passed.

Sunrise on Capitol Reef

The older children, my husband, and I hit the trails bright and early.  We first hiked Chimney Rock Loop.  My fifteen-year-old complained that the name of the trail was “not germane”.  You hike above the Chimney Rock and look down upon it, but you don’t get to actually climb it.  We did enjoy abundant desert wildflowers and also a  “grove” of petrified tree trunks.

Chimney Rock - see our tiny car beyond it.

Our second hike was to climb Cassidy Arch.  Legend has it that Butch Cassidy hid in that canyon.  The moment we summited the arch, there was an enormous clap of thunder and we could see a thunderstorm moving rapidly in our direction.  And here we were standing upright and alone on a dome of slickrock, as if to say, “Come and get me!”  We did not hesitate a moment to contemplate the view.  We made quick time to the trail head, passing a few fools who were continuing the upward climb, just as the clouds opened up and began to pour.  We made it to our car as pea-sized hail rained down upon us.  I am so thankful we did not pause! That was painful!

Cassidy Arch

I don’t suppose people traveling from afar would ever say that they are going to Utah to visit Capitol Reef.  It really isn’t a good destination, but it is a worthwhile side trip.  It figures very prominently on my children’s list of highlights.

The whole family squinting in the dust

 

 

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