May 15 – Capitol Reef NP – Utah


I wish I was a Geologist instead of an old retired Engineer – more about that later.

We were up and at it bright and early today. We were packed and ready to go by 9:30 AM. Weather was threatening and there were a few sprinkles. But let’s go, the adventure lies ahead!

We headed south for Torrey, Utah, somewhere in the middle of the mountains and desert. It rained on and off but we continued forward. Arrived at the campground at 3 PM. I was disappointed along the way here because there was rain and clouds and we missed a lot of the scenery that Utah is so known for. I never realized but whatever direction you look in Utah, you see mountains.

Wonderland RV park is a small family run campground. Has gravel roads and sites but it is very clean and well maintained. The wifi is great so far and for TV satellite we still get Salt Lake City as our station.

The weather is in the high 50’s and will that way all week. In fact, Wednesday is predicated to be a low of 32. I guess I can’t get away from the cold as long as I’m in the mountains. We are at an elevation of 6600 feet.

Monday was rainy and cold. Brenda was sewing and I was … not doing a whole lot.

After lunch we went to the local (Torrey, Utah) visitor center to gather information. Not a whole lot there. We then proceeded to the Capit0l Reef NP Visitor Center and watched the movie and got my stamp. Ten National Parks down and 49 to go.

What is amazing is how different (scenery) is in each park. The red rocks are amazing here.

We did visit the Fremont Indians (700 to 1250 AD) Petroglyph site and see paintings on the wall from the Indians from over 1300 years ago. The sad thing is the rocks are starting to break away from the mountain and take with it some of these historical artifacts.

We also stopped at the Old School House (Mormon Community in the late 1800’s). The NP has preserved this and the Orchards. This area due to the climate was able to sustain fruit trees and this was one of their main revenue sources back then. In fact one of the rules in our campground is “no picking the fruit”.

We also saw the Gifford farmhouse which was an original Mormon homestead house. It was converted to a store/bakery but when we stopped by they were out of cinnamon rolls. I did get one on the bike ride later.

Rest of the evening was downtime as it was raining.

Tuesday Brenda sewed baby things and after lunch we took the dogs for a scenic drive thru Capitol Reef NP. It was a 10 mile ride to the end and I can’t describe the scenery. It was awesome! Every NP is different and oh so wonderful. At the end was a parking area and a dirt road beyond. According to park rules dogs can walk on any public road – why not! The dirt road had a name therefore must be public. We headed out with the dogs and walked between the tall canyon walls, really cool.

Turning around (my head) I noticed the sky was getting dark and darker. Didn’t make it to the end of the road (as we turned around) because I hate getting wet in the rain. Didn’t get wet at this time.

Capitol Reef is a giant buckle of the earth’s crust. The Waterpocket Fold as it is called includes an eroded jumble of colorful cliffs, massive domes, soaring spires, stark monoliths, twisted canyons and graceful arches. You need to see to believe.

Headed out Highway 24 (east) and viewed more of the park on the outer edge. The scenery in this direction was totally different than along the Park’s Scenic Drive. It was all white rock. If I was the geologist I could explain the difference.

On the way home it started to rain and yes we did get wet getting into the RV.
Watched a movie and worked on our trip to Alaska.

Wednesday we needed a hike (Brenda got a Fitbit for her birthday and Amanda has challenged her to whatever they do on Fitbit) so we needed to hike.

We did two hikes today, Capital Gorge Trail up to the Tanks (depressions in the rock that hold water) and the end of the trail (two miles round trip and up 40 feet). Not too bad.

The second one was Hickman Bridge Trail which was 2.2 mile round trip and up 400 feet. Saw a natural bridge 133 feet across and 125 feet up. A more strenuous trail but Brenda wanted to do it. The views are fantastic.

I have to tell you something I learned today. Could not find the trail up to the tanks and someone told me about the Cairns. What is a cairn you ask? It is a small pile of vertical rocks that indicates the edge of the trail. They are used on rock paths to show the way. Wow, what a difference that made. All this time I thought kids were having fun piling up rocks.

It was after 5 PM when we got done, so it was out for dinner tonight.

Thursday Brenda woke up (actually went to bed) with a sore knee and said “no hiking today!” Change of plans – oh I guess I will go bike riding. Hauled the bike to Capitol Reef NP and set up along the scenic route. I forgot how many hills there were along the route (especially when you drive it in a car). But I was able to get to the end and back.

I have been telling you about the great view riding in the motorhome – let me tell you how much greater that view is when you are riding a bicycle. You see every ditch, tree, hill, mountain, fallen rock so clearly and without obstructions. It’s the only way to sightsee.

Have you ever wondered about those large rocks along the edge of the road, when they fell, did they make noise when they fell, did they hit anything as they fell from the mountain side? I wonder that whenever I see them lying there at the base of the hill.

Riding along the road you have lots of time to think – it takes your mind off the uphill climb.

If I was a Geologist I could describe to you the how and why of what I am seeing. But it’s impossible to describe or even take a picture. Why the colors, why the angle, why the different textures of rock – oh my questions go on and on.

These rocks are projecting out of the ground as if some inner earthly force pushed these rocks out of the ground and erosion took over – that’s what Geologist would say – but riding down the road I still believe that God created this thing of beauty and continues to watch over it.

You need to see it to believe it!

Thursday evening we went back to Capitol Reef and went up Goosenecks Point to catch the sunset. Trail gets its name as the Fremont River runs thru the canyon and has created a series of turns that has made for a fantastic view.

Friday it is off to Moab, Utah.

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