We met up with friends at Capitol Reef National Park and had a great time. It is amazing scenery, a beautiful campground and so much fun to catch up with Jase and Lauri (wanderwasi.com).
Capitol Reef (241,904 acres) encompasses the Waterpocket Fold, a warp in the earth’s crust that is 65 million years old. It is the largest exposed monocline in North America. In this fold, newer and older layers of earth folded over each other in an S-shape. This warp, probably caused by the same colliding continental plates that created the Rocky Mountains, has weathered and eroded over millennia to expose layers of rock and fossils. The park is filled with brilliantly colored sandstone cliffs, gleaming white domes, and contrasting layers of stone and earth.
Capitol Reef, while busy was much quieter than other national parks we visited recently. We stayed at Fruita Campground inside the park in the Freemont River Valley. Once populated by Mormon fruit farmers, some of the buildings have been rebuilt and the orchards have been maintained. You can eat anything you pick while in the field and pay a nominal fee to take fruit home. Sadly we stayed between seasons. We will plan better to visit during peach or apple season next time!
The Gifford House adjacent to the campground sells fruit pies and cinnamon rolls daily (well worth a visit). It also made up for the fact that we missed peach season by polishing off a yummy peach pie.
The park does not accept reservations and was full each day by the afternoon. We were able to share a site with Jase and Lauri and get real close – we missed each other so it was nice to snuggle up in a single spot for a few days;-)
Our favorite hike was Sulpher Creek a deep canyon that passes through the oldest rocks exposed at Capitol Reef. The scenic trail is a slot canyon with 3 waterfalls that required getting in and out of the water a bit. We scrambled and splashed our way down and enjoyed the beautiful canyon on a hot day.