Leaving Moab to head west to Capitol Reef National Park didn’t bring much of a drop in temperature – was still around 102F everytime we stepped out the car. The area around the Freemont River which runs through Capitol Reef was probably more impressive than the 20 mile round-trip scenic drive along the reef itself. 19th century Mormon pioneers set-up home around here creating the village of Fruita. But, you can easily see why they thought it looked like a coral reef in the sea:
The Freemont Valley itself where the village of Fruita was established seemed pretty intimidating from high up the rock face, but the lush green fruit plants growing thanks to the irrigation ditches they dug yielded a lot of fruit for them.
The old school building which would have allowed up to 26 kids to be educated was pretty small, and the inside reminded me of the old school buildings at Beamish back in England:
Climbing up to the Hickman Bridge was slightly more demanding than the self-guide trail signs indicated! It was over a mile climb up there and pretty steep in places. It was worth it when we got up there, and nice to get right up under a big natural arch like this:
Down along the Capitol Reef scenic drive, an unpaved road led to the Grand Wash area and Cassidy Arch, so called as Butch Cassidy apparently once used the canyon as a hideout. Pretty smart place to hide out as I can’t imagine anyone going looking for him along there!
Although the scenic drive was only $5 and the rest of the park was open without admission much like Redwood National Park, up close to the cliffs and rock formations heading south really wasn’t all that impressive. Heading north on the way back out the park gave some cool views, but exploring the area of Fruita, and the petroglyphs carved by the Freemont Indians around 600AD, were just as good. Unless you fancied hiking more of the trails in the area, it was a nice few hours and that was it. Bryce Canyon tomorrow should be a whole lot better 🙂