Our Vantage Points
Capitol Reef National Park
A few eons ago in south central Utah, about the time that the dinosaurs had wrapped up their term as "endangered" species, a 100-mile section of rock strata folded upward.  It was quite a show!  ...pretty noisy in these parts!  Sorry I missed it.  But what's left to see now is still pretty good!  And now the ground doesn't move and shake as much as it did that day more than 40 million years ago.

In order to consolidate the Capitol Reef story we should re-trace, for a moment, the Burr Trail.  The south end of Capitol Reef is at Bullfrog Basin, also the south end of the Burr Trail.
This long scar on the surface of the earth is called: "The Waterpocket Fold."  It's a specific example of what is known geologically as a "monocline," a step in the layers of sedimentary rock.  An analysis of the linear "markings" along the surface of the "Strike Valley" gives rise to the hypothesis that the rock strata that moved up and over the west side was lifted more than 7000 feet.  The height of this uplift is not immediately apparent when you observe that much of the jumbled rock on the west side is now generally no more than 1000 feet above the valley.

NPS Aerial Photo by Michael Collier
Waterpocket Fold Looking South

At Burr switchbacks
Uplifted rock tilt Looking North
The tilted and "folded" rock that stretches a hundred miles has been heavily eroded.  This erosion by water tends to form basins in the rock.  Hence the name: "Waterpocket Fold." It's this erosion, they say, that has reduced height of this monocline.  However, farther north in the park we find spires and domes as a testament to its earlier height.  One of these domes, resembling the U.S.  Capitol Building, inspired putting the word "Capitol" into the park's name.   And because this monocline tends to impede passage of humans and animals, the word "reef," as in "barrier reef," is included. 

Hence we have the name: Capitol Reef National Park.

Waterpocket Fold Looking NE from the top of the Burr Trail Switchbacks

We may ponder and speculate on the geology of the Waterpocket Fold, but let's mainly enjoy it's strange beauty, back dropped by the Henry Mountains.

The Burr Trail, although not the most popular area of the park, provided us with the basic experience of the Waterpocket Fold.

Still, it was important for us to visit the more popular end of the park, which not only is a hotbed of geologic phenomena, but also offers an interesting human story of early pioneers who made a home in a fabulously beautiful and livable spot.

The north end of the Burr Trail took us to the tiny town of Boulder, a pleasant community of a few modest homes and small farms.  From here we headed north on Utah-12 into a district of the Dixie National Forest.   After wandering in the desert for about five days, it was very refreshing to wind our way through, this area of small pines and aspen.  
From the Dixie National Forest looing southeast toward the Henry Mountains
From here the waterpocket fold is visible but not clearly distinguishable.
In 1888 when Ephraim Pectol was just 13 years old, his family moved to Cainsville, 20 miles east of what we now call Capitol Reef National Park.   During his youth, he became very familiar with the beauty of this little "Garden of Eden," dry except for the ample waters of the Fremont River.   Pectol named many of the rock features, names that are used today.   He dubbed the whole area along the Fremont, "Wayne Wonderland." Wayne is the county.

The main community was, and still is, the tiny town of Torrey, just 10 miles west of the Visitor Center.   Pectol purchased a store there and his wife, Dorothy, ran it while he served as a school teacher and engaged in other civic matters. Joe Hickman, the brother of Ephriam Pectol's wife, was about 12 years younger than Ephriam.  The two were very active in promoting "Wayne Wonderland."   Joe became a State legislator in 1924 and introduced a resolution to make Wayne Wonderland, a State Park.   In a ceremony on July 20, 1925 featuring Governor George Dern, 16 acres and Hickman Bridge, a natural bridge near Fruita, were declared a state park.   Four days later, Joe Hickman drowned while fishing from a boat with friends.

In 1933, Ephriam Pectol was elected to the state legislature and soon thereafter contacted President Franklin D.  Roosevelt to request the creation of "Wayne Wonderland National Monument."   The area was already largely federal land.

On August 2, 1937, the president signed Proclamation 2246 declaring the section from about 2 miles north of present highway 24 to about 10 miles south, "Capitol Reef National Monument." But development of the monument did not proceed until after World War II. Until then, Highway 24 was little more than a poor trail, not attractive to tourists.

Capitol Reef National Monument included about 10 small family ranches comprising the community of Fruita.  Known as "Junction," prior to 1902, the community flourished from about 1880 to about 1960 when the National Park Service finally purchased all private parcels on a mutually consensual basis (According to NPS accounts).

National park status came in 1971 with the area increased to 242,000 acres to include essentially the entire waterpocket fold.

Fruita had a one-room school house and a few fruit orchards.   The school house and orchards are preserved and maintained by the National Park Service from whom fruit picking permits may be obtained.

We camped in the beautiful tree shaded campground at Fruita beside the Fremont River and near one of the fine orchards. (The river is behind the bushes.)

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