Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Capitol Reef

Personally, I like the fact that Capitol Reef is one of the least visited National Parks in the southwest. The tour buses may breeze by the visitor's center on their circuit between Arches and Bryce Canyon - but it just isn't possible to get the loads of tourists down to some of the more interesting trailheads that exist deeper in the park. What I find quite fascinating about this region is the Waterpocket Fold - a hundred mile wrinkle in the earth's crust. There is no way to visualize this without getting a little distance and/or look down on it. What you end up seeing is the geological layers of fossilized sand exposed after eons of erosion. If you can touch on that in your mind - even for a split second - this concept of time can render anyone quite speechless. This is where the word 'awestruck' comes into play. We are just a blink of an eye on the time/space continuum and we live on the surface of an incredibly rich world. The experience becomes a feast for the senses in colorful canyons, brilliant blue skies, buttery sand and the cool touch of water.

We only touched the surface of what this area has to offer for the hiker or intrepid adventurer. Next time we come down we'll head up to Cathedral Valley which includes fording a river. I have to say, Andy was looking forward to that. Also, I was really glad that we headed down into the park early for some hiking in Capitol Gorge. The traffic jams created by all the RVs that attempt to get back to the parking area is pretty comical. The road is quite narrow in places - it is a sandy streambed when the rains come and closes regularly as the thunderstorms make their way across the area. Most of these RVs are rented and the drivers have various levels of experience and caution. Just because it is a national park doesn't mean that you should be off-roading with your 25 foot Winnebago.

I highly suggest also heading down the Notom-Bullfrog road which is only paved for the first 11 miles. However, there are great spots on BLM land for camping and access for hiking into the National Park that gets you away from the tourists.

It doesn't take long these days to want to escape the busloads of tourist no doubt brought in by Utah's 5 Parks marketing campaign. 5 parks in 5 days is an actual tour. This land isn't mine to claim just because I reside in the country where it sits but I wonder how it can be experienced or appreciated when the red rock canyons begin to blur into each other. If you don't give yourself the time to have your mind blown by this incredible landscape, your missing one of the true gifts - the best connection - this wilderness has to offer.

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