18 Jan
2016
Posted in: travel
By    Comments Off on Take a Trip: Capitol Reef National Park

Take a Trip: Capitol Reef National Park

This year is the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. There are over 400 entities run by the NPS. I’ll share tips from different National Park Service sites we’ve visited throughout 2016.

Capitol Reef National Park is located in a remote area of Utah. We visited several years ago (March 2011) over spring break and essentially had the park to ourselves with only a handful of other visitors to share the over 240,000 acres.

view of Captiol Reef with snowy mountains

I’m a sucker for rocky cliffs towering overhead and scenic drives with vistas of blue sky and rocky outcroppings. Capitol Reef is a favorite of mine out of our many national park adventures. It feels expansive yet quaint. The lack of people during our visit gave me the illusion that it really was my park.

Hickman Bridge Capitol Reef National Bridge

We’ve hiked more park service miles than I dare to count, and one of my top-5 favorite hikes is in Capitol Reef. Hickman Bridge is a less than 2-mile hike leading to a 133-foot natural bridge through a canyon. During our visit, our kids were fairly young. Our youngest was less than two years old and hiked strapped to Craig’s back. We enjoyed hiking through the red-colored canyon and resting on rock shelves carved in the canyon walls. There were plenty of lizards for the boys to search out, and the temperature in March was perfect for long-sleeves and pants.

Family hiking Hickman Bridge Trail Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Dome is visible from the Hickman Bridge trailhead. The dome resembles the U.S. Capitol and is part of the reason for the naming of the park. The reef refers to the 100-mile Waterpocket Fold. It’s a reef of rocks that made passage difficult for early travelers.

Father and son climbing rocks in Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef is home to orchards in the Fruita Historic District of the park. Visitors may eat fruit for free while at the orchards. There is a fee for taking fruit from the orchard to consume later. Trees in the orchards include apple, peach, pear, apricot, cherry, and plum and generally the harvest is from June through October. During our visit, the trees were beginning to flower. I hope one day to make it back to Capitol Reef during harvest time.

Fremont Petroglyphs in Capitol Reef National Park

There are several places in the park to spot petroglyphs etched into the sandstone. A panel of petroglyphs is easily accessed on Highway 24 near the visitor center. We enjoy inventing our own stories for the ancient drawings. Petroglyphs are intriguing. The who and why surrounding stories important enough to warrant permanent recording fascinate me.

Grand Wash in Capitol Reef National Park

As always, the NPS Junior Ranger program is available for children to earn the Capitol Reef badge. The park also offers a Junior Geologist program at the Ripple Rock Nature Center in the summer. A visit to Capitol Reef is a fairly easy add-on when visiting Arches National Park or Canyonlands National Park.

 

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