September 9, 2015 – Capitol Reef National Park

I always say you can tell how much fun I had by how many pictures I take in a day.  Today I took nearly three hundred.  I had never heard of Capitol Reef National Park before studying up on the Utah parks a few years ago, but I am so glad we went there. It is 146 miles away from Moab.  We drove the car, not Sao. It was still a twelve-hour day.

First, an explanation of the park.  It is a geological phenomenon. The park has a great explanation of the Waterpocket Fold that was created by a “mountain building event”, which I interpret as an earthquake. The entire entire Colorado Plateau (four states) was subsequently lifted about 7,000 feet between 50 to 70 million years ago, give or take a dozen years. It is literally a 100-mile fold on the surface of the earth. Here is a picture from the park’s web site.

b Waterpocket Fold
Waterpocket Fold

The name of the park, Capitol Reef is from two sources.  Capitol is for the white sandstone dome that reminded early travelers of the U.S. capitol building. The Reef comes from the wall of rock along the fold, which was a barrier “reef” to early travelers.

b Capitol Dome
The Capitol Dome

Our first stop was the visitor center to get touring advice.  We watched the excellent movie explaining the geological forces that shaped the park. Our next stop was the Gifford House, where we had pie and coffee.

b Gifford House

This is the barn.

b Barn

Then we drove all the way to the end of the road and walked part way down the closed Capitol Gorge Road. I have never even seen the show, but I recognized Bart Simpson while driving down the road.

b Homer Simpson Rock b Homer Simpson




People have used this wash as a road for many years.  It is subject to flash floods, as are many areas of the park.

b Capitol Gorge Road
Capitol Gorge Road

b Yellow Flowers

This is the Grand Wash. It has formed a narrow canyon. There is a very narrow section, but we did not get that far.

b Andy in Grand Wash

b White Flower

This water-eroded sandstone rock had big holes.  It was big enough to sleep in.

b Andy Sitting in Rock

We stopped for a drink of water in the shade of this rock overhang.

b Andy Under a Rock

b Grand Wash

b Orange Flowers

These two uranium mines were along the Grand Wash. We didn’t get too close.

b Uranium Mines

The park has petroglyphs created from 600 to 1300 C.E. by the Premont Culture. Unfortunately, early settlers and modern tourists have added to the wall. But in a thousand years, their marks may be of interest too.

b Antelope 2

b Petroglyph People

b Antelope

b Bear

This is the Behunin cabin, built in 1882 by Elijah Cutler Behunin.  The spot turned out to be flood -prone and the family moved to higher ground. They had eleven children, so I hope the next place was a little bigger.

b Behunin Cabin

This is a huge “concert shell” in the cliff a good distance off the road. We haven’t figured out why sandstone breaks off in that arch shape.

b Big Hollow

This castle is gigantic atop a gigantic cliff.

b Castle

The park has several fruit orchards planted by the Mormon settlers.  This doe was eating apples while her fawn rested nearby.

b Deer in Orchard

This formation is called the Egyptian Temple, but I didn’t get a picture at the best angle.  Again, it is massive. The pictures just don’t capture the size and Andy wouldn’t climb up there for scale.

b Egyptian Temple

According to the sign, these phenomenal cottonwood trees were saplings when the Mormons arrived in 1880s. We did not see any other trees so large or as gnarly.
b Giant Cottonwood Trees

b Purple Flower

I think they built their schoolhouse a little too close to the cliff where the children could be crushed by falling boulders.

b School House

2 thoughts on “September 9, 2015 – Capitol Reef National Park

  1. Gary Schmidt (Dunkirk, Md.) September 10, 2015 / 2:21 pm

    Marvelous pictures and descriptions, Dinata. Regarding the “Simpson” formation, that’s actually Bart’s Dad, Homer Simpson.


    • Dinata Misovec September 10, 2015 / 2:35 pm

      Oh! Thanks. Looks like I got the right image though. I said I’ve never seen the show!


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