Capitol Reef National Park is the most remote of the Southern Utah parks. Unique geological movements created a 100-mile wrinkle in the earth’s surface the eventually eroded into an angled reef surrounded by various shapes, sizes and colors of crazy rock formations. The unique movements also enabled the Fremont River to run year-round, creating the basis for settlement. The soil, climate and isolation were perfect for fruit orchards. Fruita, the remains of the historical town within Capitol Reef, is literally and figuratively an oasis in the desert.
Capitol Reef was apparently also designed for our new ‘dirt road’ bikes. The main scenic drive is paved for 8 miles, winding through the above-mentioned geologic features. Unique to Capitol Reef, beside the Capitol Dome, are intricately carved, super-tall, bright red cliffs topped by relatively shiny, pointed grayish rock. The ‘Egyptian Temple’ was the largest and most jaw dropping. The drive then continues on an almost 3-mile unpaved section that winds through narrow passages bordered by towering cliffs on both sides, which caused us to stop at every turn to take photos that will never convey the magnitude of the scenery that caused us to giggle and squeal all along the way – on our no-longer-shiny new dirt road bikes (they’re actually now dusty red).
The hikes we’ve done so far in canyon country started at the rim and descended to the canyon floor (and climbed back up), or they started at the bottom and wound through the canyon to provide an ant’s-eye view of the rocks. At Capitol Reef, we opted for a hike to the Navajo Knobs, starting at the bottom and climbing spectacularly to a point high above the valley floor. About 90% of the hike is on relatively open, easy-to-navigate, slickrock ledge that provided us with views along with every step and a reminder of just how great the journey can be. With room for about 3 hungry hikers atop each of the last 2 knobs sitting about 100 feet above the 1,600-foot wall towering over the valley, we enjoyed the destination and lunch with a few new friends.
Atop the knobs, we recognized Gail from the campground. Gail retired 9 months ago and left in her (then) shiny new Travato to travel the country full time. She’s in search of adventures, hiking and biking and chronicling the adventure on her blog. She avoids crowds, reservations and interstates. We enjoyed sharing travel tales and exchanging tips regarding RV life. She, too, plans to start making her way north as the weather heats up. Always fun to meet like-minded souls on the road. It’s a small community and we’re guessing we’ll meet again.
More photos of the Scenic Drive.
More photos of Navajo Knobs.