Finishing the Mighty Five with Capitol Reef

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.

Gooseneck plateau off the main road. A little underwhelming since we had been to Horseshoe Bend.

 

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.

This was a great picture of the different rock layers

And here’s a picture of the beautiful rocks

I had heard Uranium was found in Utah, and was glad to see this exhibit explaining it

It talked about the black boulders that were thrown into the area

Which we later got to see.

Waterpockets that the area is famous for

And wildlife. Cori and Greg saw some marmots but no picture unfortunately

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.

Schoolhouse

We were lucky and saw the fruit trees in blossom

I also tried the sourdough bread which was pretty good.

But really its all about the pies. They look small but there’s lots in there. The apple was so-so but the cherry was…

Seriously the best cherry pie I have ever had. Dee-licious!

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.

Really nice views.

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.

There were areas of the wall where chunks had slid off.

Several of them could still be seen though.

The signage wasn’t very good so we all had to hunt for them and point them out to one another

At the end of this boardwalk was the best one

Unfortunately many of the drawings were damaged by graffiti which in and of itself shows how long people have been visiting this area.

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.

You had to be pretty vigilant on the trail

The flowers were pretty, but not much else to look at on way up

 

The bridge itself was cool

And we could walk right up to it and take pictures.

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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7 thoughts on “Finishing the Mighty Five with Capitol Reef

  1. Great photos! Capitol Reef is our favorite National Park Service unit in all of Utah. Just as a heads up, double-check your spelling of the park’s name.
    Happy travels!
    Scott and Tiff
    RavenAboutTheParks.com

  2. Capitol Reef is our absolute favorite national park! You barely scratched the surface of all it has to offer. We love how you can pick all the fruit when it’s ripe. And lot less crowded! Safe travels to you.

  3. Hi Tracy! First time commenting…I’ve read your entire blog and it’s one of a few that I read regularly as we plan for full-time RV’ing…still a few years away.

    I had to comment today because after consulting with some family…the graffiti picture with “James H. Cook” and “Max E. Cook”, we are 99.9% sure it is my husband’s grandfather and great-grandfather! My father-in-law remembers being taken to see it by his grandfather, but he was very young and could not remember where it was. He was told there was a paper note slipped in to a crack as well. Of course both James and Max have passed away. Our theory is the dates are related to trips to the area, the family lived closer to Salt Lake City.

    Both my father-in-law and husband would love to see these in person some day, could you provide me any further details about where we could find it?

    Thank you!

  4. Wow that’s super cool!! We were in Capital Reef Park and were walking along the wooden walkways which are very close to the old schoolhouse. I used my long lens to see the inscriptions and I am sorry I am not 100% sure what section this was in, but its a pretty short walkway and was definitely viewable from the wooden planks. My best guess was it was down on the farthest end away from the square platform with the picture of the triangle people…but thats a guess sorry. Hope you find it and I would definitely ask a ranger. They are VERY familiar with what is on the rocks.

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