Sunday, October 2, 2011

A visit to Capitol Reef National Park

As the sun rose the next morning we headed for the small town of Torrey for breakfast before entering Capitol Reef National Park. At the junction we noticed a cafe called Coffee and Candy. The parking lot was full so we figured we were at the right spot. The place was packed with locals and groups of people dressed in hunting fatigues. Lots of interesting conversations to eavesdrop on while we waited patiently for our breakfast. Well worth the wait, the breakfast was superb and the coffee even better (and there was candy as well, home made chocolates and saltwater taffy, but we held back ...). Our bellies full, we headed down the road for our first hike, Chimney Rock.

Just inside the west entrance to Capitol Reef along UT 24, the Chimney Rock Trail is described as the best short path in the national park, as it is relatively short, not too steep, provides the shortest hike to a high elevation viewpoint, and passes varied surroundings. We were both glad to have gotten this under our belt before the heat of the day.

We stopped at the Capital Reef Visitor Centre to get oriented for our days activities. This area was originally a Mormon settlement, established in1880. The town became known as Fruita around 1902, due to the large fruit orchards planted here. The National Park Service purchased the town in 1955 to be included in Capitol Reef National Park. The orchards are still maintained and you can eat as much fruit as you want while visiting the orchards. Anything you take out in a bag is $1 a pound. Pears were ready for picking the day we were there.

We spent a few hours in the Fruita area, visiting the few remaining historic buildings and stopping at the small museum and store for a delectable home baked three berry pie, spinach olive bread and a vanilla cream soda. Marc couldn't resist the home made ice cream, and quickly created an ice cream soda. We sat and contemplated the view as we ate our mid day snack.

We also learned about the Freemont culture and viewed petroglyphs, with the help of yet another intelligent and entertaining Park Ranger.

Our final hike in the area took us to Petroglyph Narrows, which once was an actual road built 100 years ago. Today after many flash floods, it makes for a challenging and beautiful hike.

At the end of the trail, you are rewarded with natural water collection pools called tanks. On this particular day, it was not much of a reward. One pool was indeed filled with water, but not a very inviting sight. Looked more like a breeding ground for mosquitoes than anything else!

We had a three hour drive ahead of us to make it to Moab where we would be staying for the next three nights. So we bid our farewells to Fruita and Capitol Reef and were on the road again!

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