Tag Archives: Capitol Reef National Park

On the Road with Norwegian Friends; Part Two — June 25 – July 6, 2018

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

On our way up to Lake Powell from Parks, we stopped north of Flagstaff at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, where we spent some time walking paths through volcanic flow fields.

Glen Canyon

When we arrived at Lake Powell, we checked in to Wahweap Campground. We stayed in the Page area for two nights, visiting (by car) Horse Shoe Bend on the Colorado River to the south, and renting a small motorboat one morning to explore some of Lake Powell near the Glen Canyon Dam. Kari and Rasmus did some swimming from the shore near the campground, and they and Bill and Barb swam from the boat. The Norwegians alleged that the water was “warm”, but no one stayed in for very long.


Bryce is spectacular.  We went to a number of overlooks, including those on the far north.  But perhaps the best experience was the Navajo Loop Trail down from Sunset Point through the slot canyon of Wall Street, through the Queen’s Garden Trail and up to Sunset Point, down into the amphitheaters and labyrinths, among the hoodoos and spires, and through deep, stone canyons of pink, white, and tan, where 500 to 700-year-old Douglas Firs reach upward toward the sunlight at the top of the canyon. 

Panguitch/Brian Head/Cedar Breaks

We wanted to visit Barb’s brother Mike as we proceeded north, but his mountain cabin was up high near Brian Head, and his residence was on the other side of the mountain, in Parowan. So we chose to stay near the village of Panguitch [Southern Paiute for “big fish”], UT, on the east side of the mountain. Our base camp was the run-down private Panguitch Paradise RV Park. “Run-down” as in no attendant, but with a scribbled sign with instructions to leave the [minimal] fee under the door, using the [non-existent] pay envelopes to be found on the [non-existent] clipboard attached to the door. But the price was right: $15 for full hookups.

Mike came down to join us for dinner, and the next day we took a toad up to see his cabin, the little village of Brian Head, and the colorful cliffs of Cedar Breaks.

Capitol Reef

We love Capitol Reef National Park. But on our way we learned they had only one vacancy, so on 6/30 we stopped at Wonderland RV in Torrey, UT. Colleen and Bill took the opening at Capitol Reef, and we drove over to visit them. The Staff at Capital Reef advised that several sites would probably open up the next morning, and that if we appeared sufficiently early we would probably get one. However, we had to appear in person; Colleen could not sign us in. So Barb got up early and galloped ahead while I broke camp. The strategy worked; we were rewarded with adjoining sites and juicy apricots freshly picked from the long-ago Mormon-planted trees in the Park.

Rivers Edge

And then it was time to get close to Salt Lake City, so that Rasmus & Kari could fly back to Norway. We chose Rivers Edge RV near Heber City. We attended a Fourth of July pancake breakfast at nearby Midway and later went to Park City to join the massive crowd gathered for the fireworks. While waiting for dark, Rasmus & Bill rode up a ski lift in order to come barreling down a luge run.

Salt Lake City

On July 5 we went in to Salt Lake City, where we visited the State Capital Building and the Mormon campus. Afterwards, we were reminded of the Mormon influence in the city when we sought a cup of coffee in a downtown mall. None of the many establishments in a huge food court offered coffee. We were directed to a coffee and pastry shop on another floor. There, we were told that they had run out of coffee!!!

It felt strange to drop off Rasmus & Kari at the airport. They had been ideal guests, and we all, Barb & I and Bill & Colleen, were sad to have them leave.

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: