I love the national park slogan, “Find Your Park.” When we planned to visit Capitol Reef, my first thought was, “Find your park back story about the name.” The national park website told me Capitol comes from the white sandstone dome in the photo below that early settlers believed looked like the U.S. Capitol. (It’s the pointy one, third from the left.) Reef refers to the ridge formed by the Waterpocket Fold, a hundred mile long geological wrinkle in the earth found here. Thus Capitol Reef. And now you know.
We stopped first at Behunin Cabin, a 215 square foot one-room cabin built by Mormon pioneer Elijah Cutler Behunin in 1883. The family moved to Fruita after just a year due to repeated flooding that destroyed their crops. I don’t know how many Behunins lived here but they eventually numbered 15 so it was undoubtedly crowded.
Elijah Behunin donated land for a school in 1896 where his oldest daughter served as the school’s first teacher at the age of 12. Kids must have been smarter then. Classes continued in this building until 1941.
Our hike to Hickman Bridge was one of the most memorable of our trip. (Remember from my earlier post, a geological bridge is like an arch with water under it.) On the trail, we met a couple from Iowa who told us they had encountered a huge boulder in the middle of the road in Zion National Park from a rock slide early that morning. This would effectively close the road until it could be removed and the road repaired. So in addition to a wrinkle in the earth, there was now a wrinkle in our plan. Ah, well, we had Bryce Canyon to see first so we crossed our fingers that the road to Zion would be reopened before we got there. Thankfully, no one was injured because this couple arrived on the scene literally minutes after the event.
We met another couple at Hickman Bridge, two young men from Washington, DC. One of them was with National Geographic and the other worked for a non-profit. We hit it off immediately and when Jim told them about my travel blog, we had a great travel discussion and even exchanged business cards. Then I tripped over my own feet and punctured my bum on a tree root sticking out of the ground and they had to help me up. I’m sure the memory is burned into their minds forever and I still have the scar to remind me of the experience.
The Fruita Orchard within the park is open to the public with 3100 fruit and nut trees that produce at various times of the year. We happened to be there at apple harvest but other seasons include cherries, apricots, peaches, pears, plums, mulberries, almonds, and walnuts. You can pick and eat whatever is posted as ready for harvest at the time. If you want to take produce with you, you weigh it and leave payment in the metal box. The apples were $1 per pound.
The Fremont Petroglyphs, inscribed by early Puebloans and named for the Fremont River, decorate the red sandstone in many areas throughout the park. They are prominently displayed, however, directly off the highway along a pleasant walking trail.
The Castle, visible from the highway, is another well-known landmark within the park.
As we exited Capitol Reef National Park, we took the scenic drive down Utah State Route 12 on our way to Bryce Canyon. When we stopped for gas and groceries in Escalante, Utah, I asked at the grocery store about buying wine. They directed me to the state liquor store which we finally found after much searching in Escalante Outfitter’s. According to their website they offer “tours, food, gear, cabins, and camping.” While not advertised, they also sell alcohol in a small closet at the back of the store caged in by chicken wire.
Once we procured the wine, we were on our way to Bryce Canyon National Park where I would indeed, find my park.
Based on events from September 2015.