When you think of National Parks, Capitol Reef would generally not be one on the tip of your tongue. But in our tour of National Parks this year, the hits just keep on coming including Capitol Reef. It has a lot of the red sandstone of the parks in southern Utah, but has its own unique character. The area only became a National Park in 1971. The first paved road in the area was built in 1962. The Park still has very few paved roads. There are 20 miles or so of State highway cutting east/west through the Park and about a 10-mile scenic drive and that is it for the pavement. There are many miles of jeep trails but our Ford Focus station wagon doesn’t do real well on them. One probably would need four-wheel-drive to really explore this park in depth.
Why is it called Capitol Reef? Well the Capitol part comes from the many white sandstone domes adorning the top of the cliffs. One of them is even named Capitol Dome as some felt it looked like one of the domes on the US Capitol Building. We were in DC last year, so let’s see if there is a resemblance.
Well, it may take a bit of imagination. But there are a lot of white domes in the Park.
When the Mormons migrated from the Midwest to Salt Lake, they were also encouraged to migrate out from Salt Lake and settle the broader Southwest. One settlement, called Fruita was established in the 1880s in the Fremont River valley where now the main highway passes through Capitol Reef. Although the Park Service now has acquired all these private lands, they still maintain the orchards of Fruita and some of the buildings of that settlement. We went into one orchard and picked some apples, peaches, and pears. There is a Dollar a pound collection box at the orchard gate. I made some applesauce, a peach coffee cake, and we will munch on the pears when they ripen a bit. It had to be a rough life in such a remote area. There were 10 families residing there at the most. Below right is a picture of the one-room Fruita School.
The main home of the Fruita settlement has been restored and has a store which sells some fruit products and other canned goods. We bought two jars of salsa, one with peaches and the other with fire roasted peppers. They were both quite good. But the real specialty is the small fruit pies they sell. We bought one to top off our picnic lunch in the Fruita orchards area.
We hiked a bit through one canyon that also served as a wash and along the ridge of another canyon. We might have hiked a bit more but during the time we were here they had at least an inch of the annual ten inches of rain they receive a year which shut down the scenic drive and a number of the trails. The Fremont River flowed red.
If you would like to see more of our pictures from Capitol Reef, click on the link below: https://picasaweb.google.com/116107386675555024952/CapitolReef