The Waterpocket Fold is a 100 mile long bulge in the earth's crust which resulted from an uplift of the earth's layers and subsequent leveling off, forming what appears to be a mountain. The mini cliffs and domes surrounding the fold acted as a barrier against travel in the region, hence the "reef" portion of the park's name.
The gorges are narrow areas formed when water ran through cracks in the earth. These areas collect rainfall and form small waterpockets. They are one of the places to see in Capitol Reef, when the forces of nature are cooperating. Rainstorms can cause flash floods in the gorges and, for that reason, it is advisable not to enter if storms are threatening. The gorges may also be closed after a storm if it is determined that they contain conditions dangerous to hikers.
All in all, its not such a bad day weather-wise. Its pretty chilly (in the 30's) and it hasn't broken 40 degrees all day. But the huge snowstorm I'd feared while driving over Boulder mountain has yet to descend upon the area. in fact, the sun has finally broken free of the clouds which gave it a heck of a fight trying to shield its rays. I guess the sun was more determined. Or the clouds were not as strong as they appeared to be.
Its a repetitive tip, but this is a clearer shot of Chimney Rock. It still doesn't look like its worth hiking 3.5 miles through the mud to get to it, but its an interesting sight from the dry and mud free highway.
Frommers travel writers say that, if you can visit only one National Park in your lifetime, it should be Capitol Reef. I'm not sure if that's true and since less than one million visitors enter this park per year, most don't seem to agree. But Capitol Reef is uniquely beautiful in its ruddy earth-toned scenery and fascinating in its geological history.
This is a 125 mile drive, so plan a day for this activity. You will begin this drive with the Notom-Bullfrog Road. This road intersects Utah Hwy 24 about 9.3 miles east of the visitor center. This dirt road runs along the eastern side of the Waterpocket Fold. This fold is a bending and folding of rock layers caused by pressure deep within the earth. The scenery here is wonderful, and there are also a number of hiking trails that may be accessed from this road. We saw near vertical cliffs, white domes made of Navajo Sandstone, and beautiful overlooks of mountains and multi colored sandstone cliffs. From the Notom-Bullfrog Road take the Burr Trail Road. This was originally a cattle trail route that will take you to the town of Boulder on Utah Hwy 12. Much of this leg of the loop lies outside the park. The Burr Trail Road takes you through the northern part of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Wow! Was this spectacular! The scenery is breath taking with huge towering red cliff walls on either side of us. These were composed of gigantic, flat faced surfaces with sharp edges. Some of the cliffs had beautiful, multi-colored ribbon like stripes cascading down their faces. In Boulder stop and visit the Anasazi State Park where you will enjoy an interesting museum. The Anasazi were some of the ancestral Puebloan people who lived in the area in early times. Behind the museum you will see excavations of rooms and pit structures. The Anasazi abandoned the area around 1175 A.D. From Boulder take Highway 12 through the Dixie National Forest to the west side of Capitol Reef. Here we passed by unbelievably huge stands of aspen trees ranging far back and over the rolling hills. This would be a stunning view in the fall when the trees are dressed in their golden finery. The Burr Trail road and hwy 12 are paved. Inside the park the route is a graded dirt road, which can be affected by weather conditions. For this reason you should inquire about road and weather conditions before taking this drive.
Despite it's situation between Arches N.P. and Bryce Canyon N.P., the Capitol Reef is an off the beaten path destination. Maybe also because it falls in the shade a little with these gigantical special National Parks. On the other hand maybe because our human view is not able to see the larger picture (see photo at General!). Like with the Canyonlands nature's spectacular forms here are so wide and over such a large territory that only a areal view can understand it's magnificence.
These small cliffs were created by the uplifting of the Colorado Plateau. They appear as small hillls along this unusual landscape. Many contain cliffs along their irregular profiles.
I'm not sure why this is here, but there are several structures along the scenic drive. including the blacksmith's shop, that are either replicas or relics from another time.