Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park Travel Blog› entry 61 of 77 › view all entries
We toured all the overlooks and took loads of pictures at Bryce Canyon, but we didn't do as much hiking as we had done in Zion. Bryce just isn't that large compared to other national parks, so it wasn't long before we were on our way to the next stop, Capitol Reef! We had a nice scenic drive to get there, passing through more of the Grand-Staircase Escalante region. It really is a beautiful countryside! We stopped several times along the drive, to look at various canyons and overlooks. There wasn't any traffic, we saw very few other vehicles along the way. In fact, other than small parts of California, we haven't seen any real traffic since Chicago! Even Seattle was no problem. We were "park hopping" across Utah, with 5 national parks and one state park to see (Goblin Valley), and all six were in line and not all that far from each other.
Along the road, we went through various elevation changes, and the surrounding scenery reflected that. In the mountains, there were various interesting eroded rock formations common to the area. As we decended, we came across fields and wooded areas...at one point there was a forested area of White Birch trees all clustered together. Driving through this area, there were more and more clumps of these birch trees all over. Never saw so many in one spot! White Birch trees tend to thrive in rocky areas, where other types of trees tend to find it hard to put down roots.
We saw a few signs announcing hunting season was open, and not long after that we passed on the road a couple of redneck-looking guys with crossbows on an ATV, scanning the woods for a target. I hate to see beautiful animals destroyed for sport, I believe you should shoot them with cameras, not guns or crossbows! Of course, that is just my opinion, you are certainly entitled to your own... still, when we saw a beautiful stag about a mile up the road, we couldn't resist honking the horn and "shooing" it back into the dense underbrush! Not gonna make it too easy for those guys! (Even if you are going to hunt.
There was still plenty of light left when we arrived at Capitol Reef National Park, so named because of a rock that looks sort of like the US Capitol building. There was a little village near the park entrance, with a large herd of deer grazing right on peoples lawns.
We drove through the canyon down Scenic Drive to the Capitol Gorge Pioneer Trail, about a two mile walking trail through the canyon. There are more petroglyphs on this trail, and the "Pioneers register", names scratched into the rock walls by prospectors in the late 1800's.
The scenic road back from the canyon had a lot of dips and bridges, and Dawn would speed up on the dips (at Tyler's encouragement) to give the road a roller-coaster effect.
We stopped at the trail to Capitol Dome, and walked about a half mile up the trailhead. We didn't go further because of Dawns's knees on the steep, rocky trail, and the fact that it was dusk and would be getting dark soon. We had no lights on us and there was NOTHING for miles.
On the way out, we saw Behunin Cabin...built out of sandstone by a Morman settler family in the 1800's, it housed a family of 10! Hard to imagine how 10 people could live in a cabin smaller than our living room at home! We learned at the visitor center that some of the sons slept on hammocks in a cave nearby, due to obvious space restrictions.
After we left the park, it was getting dark and we needed gas. We stopped at an interesting gas station called "Hollow Mountain" that had a convenience store, carved right into the rock mountain! The walls inside were rock and everything. Quite unusual! Reloaded on gas and coffee, we were on our way again. Next stop, Goblin Valley State Park!