There are five major parks in Utah, Zion; Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, and Capitol Reef. We were excited about visiting this park, but really didn’t know much about it. We had driven through several times, and the views were stunning, but didn’t really know much about what the park offered.
Despite the gorgeous views, we knew we had only seen a fraction of the park and since it never hurts to start with the visitors center, we made that our first official stop.
What is unique about this park though is the fact that it surrounds the historic settlement of Fruita. This was a Mormon settlement that took advantage of the river and grew fruit trees. The settlement has been maintained and many of the original trees still exist. It also has the original schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, and one of the homes which was turned into a store. All of that was cool, but what got everyone’s attention was the pies. Steve and Deb had been here years before and Steve remembered those pies and wanted to make sure Lee got some. Thankfully he also remembered that they sold out early, which turned out to be the case. We were lucky enough to get pies (which are made in the traditional pioneer method) twice and cinnamon rolls once. The cinnamon rolls are often gone by 8:30am…and remember this is all in the off season.
There is even a really nice little campground down in this area. There is no cell service down there at all, but it has a loop of sites big enough for larger rigs and was really nice. It also has a great dumpstation, which we paid $5 to use.
After exploring Fruita we talked about what hikes we wanted to do. The no-brainer was a short walk along a boardwalk that had hieroglyphics. I had to use my long lens to see most of them, but it was somewhat interesting.
After that short walk I thought I had enough energy to hike the 2.2 mile round trip to Hickman Natural bridge. I knew from talking to Steve that it was really steep in the beginning, but since I am such a huge fan of Natural Bridges I decided to give it a try. The beginning was not only steep but rough and they only thing that kept it from being miserable was it was a partially cloudy day which helped with the sun. The bridge itself was pretty cool, and thankfully the walk back was mostly down hill, but I wouldn’t be in a big hurry to do it again.
Besides the bridge there was only one other area that was interesting. It was a mini arch with a water pocket tall enough to stand in. We stopped and got some cute pictures there.
Like I said, it was ok and maybe I would have liked it more if it hadn’t been at the end of a long couple of weeks. I also really need to remember to bring my hat, because the Utah sun can really get to you on hikes. Overall I would definitely say Capitol Reef was my least favorite of the five but definitely worth seeing. If nothing else drive through and stop and get some pie. Personally I am really thrilled that we have visited all five (among other places in Utah). We have spent 6 weeks over the last two years there and I barely feel like we have scratched the surface. Of all the states we have visited since going full time I would have to say Utah would be my favorite. I wouldn’t want to live there, but it is a wonderful place to explore and enjoy nature.
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