Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park is located in south-central Utah in the heart of red rock country. The following is our collection of photographs from this hidden gem.

Reefs in Utah?

The entire park is breathtaking.  Capitol Reef National Park protects colorful canyons, ridges, and buttes that are part of a geologic wrinkle on earth.  Erosion of the tilted rock layers continues today forming colorful cliffs, massive domes, soaring spires, twisting canyons, and graceful arches.  

Capitol Reef National Park gets its name for a line of white domes of Navajo Sandstone, each of which looks somewhat like the United States Capitol building. The “reef” was a term used by early settlers for parallel, impassable ridges that reminded them of reef barriers at sea.

The Castle

Upon our arrival at Capitol Reef National Park, we were thrilled at the view of golden cottonwood trees with the rock formations in the background.  As soon as we saw this area, we were out of our vehicle as fast as possible to explore this beauty. 

The Castle and Sulphur Creek - Capitol Reef National Monument
The Castle and Sulphur Creek – Capitol Reef National Monument Utah

Across the road from the visitor center, we found these golden cottonwood trees on the banks of Sulphur Creek with The Castle in the background.

Sunset Colors - Capitol Reef National Monument
Sunset Colors – Capitol Reef National Monument Utah

Looking at the photograph above, you can see the sandstone bands of color highlighted by the setting sun. The Navajo people call this area the land of sleeping rainbows, you can see why.

Waterpocket Fold

What is a Waterpocket Fold? Waterpocket Fold is a warp in the earth’s crust formed 50 – 70 million years ago. The fold runs for over 100 miles and defines the area around Capitol Reef National Park. The ongoing erosion of the sandstone layers results in basins that form “Waterpockets”.

Water Designs - Capital Reef National Monument
Water Designs – Capitol Reef National Monument Utah

Within the fold, there are countless washes surrounded by deep sandstone walls. The wind and rain working against these walls create an endless variety of sandstone shapes.

Fruita, Utah

Southern Utah is known for its collection of National and State Parks, all highlighting fantastic rock formations, domes, and arches. So it was a bit of a surprise to take a short drive up the canyon from the visitor center and find ourselves entering a lush shady valley full of fruit trees.

This area of the park is the Fruita Rural Historic District. Fruita was settled by Mormon pioneers in the late 1880s and is located along the banks of the Fremont River and Sulphur Creek.  As we explored this historical area, we photographed several subjects that captivated us.

Gifford House Barn - Capitol Reef National Monument Utah
Gifford House Barn – Capitol Reef National Monument Utah

Above is the Gifford House Barn.  The golden patina of the barn boards contrasting against the red rocks of the mesa behind it and the green grass of the pasture in the front made this an incredible view. 

The Gifford Homestead was originally built in 1908 and operated until 1969 when it was sold to the National Park Service. Since then the National Park Service operates this as a cultural demonstration site.

Gifford House Truck – Capitol Reef National Monument Utah

We loved this 1936 Ford truck that is sitting behind the old Gifford farmhouse.  Parked in front of one of the farm buildings with the clothesline in the background it looks like it is frozen in time, this photograph could have been taken in the 1930s.

A Rare Find

1940 Eimco Power-Horse tractor - Capitol Reef National Monument Utah
1940 Eimco Power-Horse tractor – Capitol Reef National Monument Utah

Finally, we could not forget this little jewel we found parked inside the blacksmith shop.  This is a 1940 Eimco Power-Horse tractor.   Growing up in the mid-west, I have seen my share of antique tractors but this was a new one for me.  If you look closely you will notice that this tractor does not have a seat nor does it have a steering wheel.  Instead, you will see two levers on each side of the tractor, this allows the farmer to attach reigns in the same manner that he used to control the horses.

This design allowed farmers to transition from horse to tractor-powered farming.  The farmer could use his existing horse-drawn equipment without the need to invest in all-new implements.  The sales of these tractors were limited to Utah, Idaho, and Arizona and since there were only 100 of these manufactured this tractor is quite rare. 

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