Dec 16, 2013

National Parks- The high cliffs and canyons of Capitol Reef

Capitol Reef is not really a reef :) It is a rugged and around 75-miles long spine called Waterpocket Fold. This park which is narrow and long, protects cliffs, canyons, buttes and sandstone domes. The name Capitol is due to the dome like rocks of white Navajo sandstone. Well, the area has many things explained with some geological jargons like warp or monocline etc. For person like me with not much of geological knowledge, it is a beautiful land with wonderful rock formations and canyons :) Wild, rugged, and wonderful ...

Few White Domes

The attractions in national park are interesting rock formations, sheer cliffs and pinnacles with layers of colored rocks. Chimney Rock is one such pinnacle. There is a trail which climbs up to view the Chimney rock from up. From Goosenecks Overlook you can witness a geological spectacle of Fremont River winding through the reef. The Castle is a high towering cliff shaped in the form of a castle stands high right behind the visitor center. Visitor center is has a great collection of souvenirs and books. If you are into history, fruit orchards and flowers you shouldn't  miss Historic District of Fruita. The Fruita campground is in a beautiful orchard setup.

The Castle and Goosenecks at Capitol Reef National Park
The Castle and Goosenecks

 From the visitor center a 13-mile long scenic drive through the park is a beautiful experience! The road winds through the heart of the national park and has stops at some wonderful rock formations and trailheads. One can see the sheer cliffs, multicolored layers of rocks lifted-folded-carved into interesting formations. At the end of the road there is a trailhead to walk through the most beautiful Capitol Gorge. The park was opened just a couple of days earlier my visit, it was closed due to the government shutdown. It seems there were debris of flash floods in the gorge which weren't cleared because of the shutdown. Unlucky for me- it was closed for visitors. Two trails to view the Golden Throne- a magnificent high cliff (4-miles round-trip) and The Tanks- water pockets carved into the rocks (2.5-miles round-trip), start from inside the wash which I couldn't reach, sigh :(

Chimney Rock and Pictographs at Capitol Reef National Park
Chimney Rock and Petroglyphs
I had to be happy hiking the Grand Wash which is magnificent too! One has to drive around a mile on a gravel road to the parking lot. From there visitors can walk, around 5-miles round-trip, to see the spectacular rock formations, sheer cliffs, narrow canyon, white domes etc. There is a 3.5-miles round-trip Cassidy Arch trail which starts from the gorge. Seemed a bit strenuous during summer months and even in the October afternoon. It climbs steeply from the wash up to the cliff. Carry more water. The arch was named after an outlaw Butch Cassidy who was hiding here. 

Grand Wash

The national park has an entrance fee of $10. Torrey is the nearest town, just 10-mins away from the park, with good accommodation options. Torrey is the eastern gateway to the Byway-12 at the junction with Highway-24. Capitol Reef national park is less popular compared to other national parks of Utah like Bryce Canyon, Arches and Zion. I found it equally magnificent in terms of natural beauty.  


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State Parks of Utah

This post is linked to Nature Notes and Our World Tuesday.

If you want pictures please ask me :)
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Scrapbook- A Travel Blog by Kusum Sanu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


  1. Loved the rock formations. Lovely post, Kusum!

  2. amazing rock formations. i'd love to see them someday.

  3. Grand pictures. They look like a dream to me.

  4. Great photos and interesting to read!

  5. Awesome landscapes and photos. You have wonderful photos from our national parks. Thanks for sharing, have a happy day!

  6. How beautiful… such dramatic and wonderful scenery!

  7. Amazing rock formations. Great shots!

  8. I really really want to see this type of scenery ... I love your travels Kusum.... Michelle


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