Monday, September 7, 2009

Capitol Reef National Monument, Utah

Capitol Reef National Park is a United States National Park, in south-central Utah. It is 100 miles (160 km) long but fairly narrow. The park, established in 1971, preserves 378 mi² (979 km²) and is open all year, although May through September are the most popular months.
Called "Wayne Wonderland" in the 1920s by localboosters Ephraim P. Pectol and Joseph S. Hickman, Capitol Reef National Park protects colorful canyons, ridges, buttes, and monoliths. About 75 miles (120 km) of the long up-thrust called the Waterpocket Fold, extending like a rugged spine from Thousand Lake Mountain southward to Lake Powell, is preserved within the park boundary. Capitol Reef is the name of an especially rugged and spectacular part of theWaterpocket Fold near the Fremont River. The area was named for a line of white domes and cliffs of Navajo Sandstone, each of which looks somewhat like the United States Capitol building, that run from theFremont River to Pleasant Creek on the Waterpocket Fold. The local word reef referred to any rocky barrier to travel.
Only a few decades ago, Capitol Reef and the Waterpocket Fold country comprised one of the most remote corners of the lower 48 U.S. states. Easy road access came only with the construction of a paved State Route 24 through the Fremont River Canyon in 1962.
The town nearest Capitol Reef is Torrey, Utah, which lies eight miles (13 km) west of the visitor's center on Highway 24. Torrey is very small, but has several motels and restaurants. The park itself has a large campground, but it often fills by early afternoon during busy summer weekends. The Burr Trail Scenic Backway provides access from the west through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the town of Boulder. Overnight camping within the park requires a permit from the rangers at the visitor's center. Activities in the park include hiking, horseback riding, and a driving tour. Mountain biking is prohibited in the park, but many trails just outside the park exist.