Capitol Reef National Park (pics), located just east of Torrey, UT, is 100 miles long but fairly narrow, running roughly north and south. Most of the park has very limited accessibility. The primary feature of the park is a long up-thrust called the Waterpocket Fold, about 75 miles long and 65 million years old. It is a warp with older and newer layers of earth folded over each other in an S shape.
The name, “Capitol Reef” refers to a series of white sandstone domes which resemble the top of the US Capitol building. The term “reef” refers to any barrier to travel, in this case parallel, impassable ridges.
A scenic drive allows easy exploration for a few miles south into the park and to hike through the Capitol Gorge. We also hiked to the Hickman Natural Bridge and to Goosenecks Point. There is also an historic area inside the park called “Fruita” where Mormons established a settlement in the Freemont River Valley in the 1880’s. Many of the original structures and fruit trees planted by the early settlers have been preserved.
Next stop: Escalante, UT