On Wednesday, October 6th, we drove 209 miles to Torrey, UT where we had booked five nights at Wonderland RV Park. Torrey is a small town in southeastern Utah that is three miles from Capitol Reef National Park. It was drizzling as we prepared to depart Heber City and the rainfall became heavier as we got underway. A few miles after we got on I-15 in Orem, the traffic came to a complete standstill due to a collision between two semis. We sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic for the next two miles. Fortunately, the rain slacked off shortly after we got past the crash site. Despite getting on the road by 9:30 am, we didn’t arrive at the campground until 3 pm.
On Thursday, we visited Capitol Reef National Park. Having visited Zion and Bryce Canyon several years ago, Capitol Reef represents the fifth of our visits to the five national parks referred to as “Utah’s Mighty 5.” After a brief stop at the Visitor Center, we drove the 8-mile scenic drive. Capitol Reef’s defining geologic feature is known as the waterpocket fold, essentially a wrinkle in the Earth’s crust that extends nearly 100 miles.
We had hoped to drive the unpaved Capitol Gorge Road to the Capitol Gorge Trailhead but it was closed to vehicular traffic, So, instead, we hiked about 1.5 miles along the road before turning back.
On our return trip on the scenic drive, we stopped at numerous pullouts and then turned up the 1.3-mile unpaved Grand Wash Road.
Having developed quite an appetite, we stopped at the Gifford House for a couple of individual-sized pies. The Gifford House was the heart of the small Mormon pioneer village of Fruita, settled in 1880. The surrounding fruit orchards are a remnant of this community and, today, are the largest historic orchards in the National Parks system.
After spending a rainy Friday at home, we returned to Capitol Reef National Park on Saturday. Our first stop took us on a couple of short hikes to the Goosenecks Overlook and the Sunset Point Trail. The Goosenecks is where the Sulphur Creek carved out a canyon, its curving path resembling that of a gooseneck. As the creek cut downward over time, it exposed different colored rock layers.
Our next stop was at the one-room schoolhouse for the children of the ten or so families of Fruita. The schoolhouse was built in 1896 and continued in use through 1941. The student’s desks were not attached to the floor so the building could also be used as a church meeting place, as well as for dances, meetings and other social events.
We then stopped to see the petroglyphs carved on the rock walls by Native Americans.
Our final activity for the day was a 2-mile moderately strenuous hike to the Hickman Bridge natural sandstone arch.
On our return home, we stopped for a picture at the park sign.