Friday, February 26, 2016

Winter Journey Through Capitol Reef National Park - Part Two

Our journey continued further into historic Fruita and the Capitol Reef Visitor Center, just off Route 24.  There is another scenic road that leads to historic buildings/shops (Gifford House, Blacksmith) and other trails, but we're saving that for our return trip.  The Visitor Center has a movie theatre, topographic diorama, displays and gift shop (Gifford House canned goods and kitchen ware available for sale....try the apple butter!).  The gift shop also has DVDs, CDs (we got the Western Themes CD of all the old television westerns); maps, guide books, historical books, postcards, plenty for the children, and lots more.  You can even adopt a Marmot for $25, receiving a certificate and stuffed animal.  The rangers are very informative and helpful, so don't be shy about asking questions...intelligent questions, not ones like, "Why is the desert hot?"  If you don't already know why, you shouldn't be traveling in it in the first place.

Continuing west on Route 24, next stop is The Castle; a craggy peak of ochre-colored Wingate sandstone, sitting atop gray-green Chinle formation, atop red Moenkopi formation.  This featured site of the park is not simply fascinating because of the craggy peak, but of the layers of colored stone formations.

By the way, I forgot to mention how Capitol Reef got its name; many of the pioneers that had come through had been sailors of the sea.  The rugged terrain of the Waterpocket Fold reminded them so much of the reefs the sailing ships had to avoid.  Capitol came from the resemblance of the Navajo dome to D.C.'s Capitol building; hence Capitol Reef.  Which brings me to pioneers themselves; ALL pioneers had to go through treacherous terrain; deal with hostile wildlife and/or people; illnesses and/or injury.  So, if you happen to believe that one group of pioneers *cough, cough....Hole in the Rockers* is so much better than the next because of what hardships they endured....surprise!!!...they weren't the only special ones, they all were!!!  Now back to our regularly scheduled tour...

Panorama Point was our lunch stop for this day; good thing we did bring a picnic lunch as the only stores open between Hanksville and Bicknell were gas/convenience or a Subway shop in Torrey.  At Panorama Point, you can basically see from one end of the park to the other; absolutely gorgeous landscapes.  There is a short road to the Goosenecks Trail, then a 600 foot hike to see Sulphur Creek as it snakes along the valley below, creating a "gooseneck".  This is a natural trail and was too snow laden for us to walk that day, but, and you guessed it, on the to-do list for next time.  So, as we enjoyed munching on homemade chicken salad on croissants, and chunky potato salad, we sat  in our vehicle (heat on of course) and admired Capitol Reef's glorious scenery around us.

Chimney Rock looks like its name; a pinnacle of Moenkopi Shale which has a 3.6 mile easy hiking trail that loops behind it.

View westward from Chimney Rock.

There is a pull-in area where you can view Twin Rocks, two knobs of Shinarump sandstone.

...and then we were off to spy out Torrey and Bicknell.  Unfortunately, as I stated above, the only places open were gas/convenience stores and a Subway shop in Torrey.  All those lovely gift shops along the way will have to wait until our return in a warmer month. 

Oh, there were two beautiful white Mountain Herding Sheep Dogs who graciously agreed to pose for us with their herd.

On our way out of Capitol Reef, the junction at the beginning was now cloud free, sun shining and beautiful; so we went up the Notom Road a bit and I photographed the snow covered Waterfold Pocket.

As I have repeated, we do intend on returning and checking out Capitol Reef National Park in a warmer season.

Consider yourselves warned....(best Terminator voice) we'll be back!

Mary Cokenour

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