Capitol Reef National Park — Utah, August 24-28, 2016

Still with Bill & Colleen,  on August 24 we both found camper pads at Capitol Reef National Park. The bulletin boards announced that there would be a special program that evening at the outdoor arena: a melodrama complete with a beautiful heroine and a dashing hero and suitably nasty villains. The bad guys were struggling to steal the land destined to become a national park; the good guys were resisting. Booing and hissing and cheering were encouraged.   All of this in anticipation of the Centennial Celebration of the birth of the National Park Service, to be held the following day.  We attended both events, booing and cheering on the first night, and singing happy birthday and eating cake on the second day.

Selected pictures of the melodrama:

And of the Parks birthday celebration the next day:

Capitol Reef’s defining geologic feature is a wrinkle in the Earth’s crust, here called “Waterpocket Fold”, extending almost 100 miles from Thousand Lake Mountain to Lake Powell. Over millions of years three processes – deposition of nearly 10,000 feet of sedimentary rock made of limestone, sandstone, and shale, followed by uplift along an ancient fault reactivated by tectonic activity, and finally, erosion by rain, flash floods and freeze-thaw cycles – have shaped the Fold.

Petroglyphs and pictographs on rock walls give evidence of the people who lived here about 300 to 1300 CE.

In the 1880s Mormons established the small settlement of Fruita at the confluence of the Fremont River and Sulphur Creek. They built irrigation systems to water orchards and pastures, and sustained for decades a self-reliant lifestyle, tending apple, peach, pear, and apricot trees – trees now maintained by the Park Service and opened briefly to park visitors when the fruits are ripe.

Park literature says that in the Park there are over 100 species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish; and 239 species of birds. We didn’t see quite that many, but here are a few:


Bill & Colleen left the Park on the morning of August 27, since they had obligations elsewhere. We stayed until the next day, when we headed down to see Barb’s brother Mike, who has a cabin near Cedar Breaks. We’ve talked about that area before, so I’ll content myself with a quick panorama: