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An amazing collection of massive, colored rock formations, cliffs and slot canyons rise from below the surface to provide us with an amazing display. Early settlers likened the wrinkling to a reef and the huge white domes to the U.S. Capitol building.
The Fremont River supported growing fruit trees and you’ll still find apples, cherries, apricots, pears, peaches, and plums available to pick in Fruita.
The Scenic Drive is a 8 mile (13 km) paved road that winds through the heart of the park. Starting at the visitors center and accesses to the campground and trailheads. Alternatively drive the dirt Grand Wash Road, that follows a huge walled canyon to the trailheads for Cassidy Arch and Grand Wash Trail. Only vehicles under 27 feet (8.2 m) in length are permitted.
Beyond the official scenic drive begins an unpaved spur road continues for two miles (3.2 km) into Capitol Gorge. This narrow, twisting roadway used to be the main throughway through south central Utah. Continue to hike along the old roadbed to a spot where early pioneers and Mormon settlers carved their names in the rocks as they passed through the canyon.
What to make of the petroglyphs that the native people of Fremont Culture carved into the Wingate sandstone cliffs. Some images are recognizable, animals and geometric designs. Other anthropomorphic (human like) may depict deities, legends or stories that the Hisatsinom (Fremont Culture) wanted to record. For a closer look, bring binoculars.
And you’ll want to view the tiny one room Fruita Schoolhouse that served school aged children from 1896 to 1941.
Spend some time at Capitol Reef, visitors are often blown away by the amazing geology and wide-range of activities this lesser-known park has to offer.
Arriving from West: The tour will officially start on Highway 24 at the junction with Highway 12.
Arriving from East: Follow Highway 24 driving westbound from Hanksville. Approximately 20 minutes after leaving Hanksville, the commentary will begin as you approach the eastern boundary of the Park.
Capitol Reef National Park is quite compact, so it is easy to visit see all the major locations in a couple of hours or single day. If you have the time to extend your visit you’ll find this less crowded National Park might become one of your favorites.
You will add less than 50 miles to your vehicle by traveling on all of the routes suitable for regular vehicles within the park.