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The Waterpocket Fold is a straight, 100 mile long ridge of tilted and layered rock stretching from the Fishlake Mountains in central Utah to Lake Powell in the south. Most is preserved in Capitol Reef National Park, which contains multicolored cliffs, narrow canyons, ridges, arches, spires and domes. The park is so named because of the resemblance of the many whitish Navajo sandstone domes to the US Capitol building; the 'Reef' refers to the high uplifted ridge running north-south along the fold which presented a considerable barrier to early settlers. Capitol Reef National Park is the second largest in the state, yet is much less visited than others in south Utah, partly due to the rather remote location and perhaps because there is no obvious central attraction.
The main road (UT 24) crossing the park east-west gives a flavor of the area and passes close to several of the most famous named features such as Chimney Rock, the deep twisting canyon formed by Sulphur Creek, and Hickman Bridge, a natural arch created by erosion, but it is well worth the national park entry fee to drive the ten mile scenic road which follows the reef itself, starting at the visitor center on UT 24 then south past huge, crumbling, multicolored cliffs with magnificent scenery in all directions. The last few miles are unpaved, and most of the route is narrow and winding so care is needed when driving. The road ends at the start of a narrow steep-walled canyon (Capitol Gorge) that extends for several miles southwards, and a pleasant foot trail runs along its base and passes some ancient Indian petroglyphs; in total there are over a dozen maintained trails along the park roads.
Near the Capitol Reef visitor center is the site of the former Mormon colony of Fruita, established in the 1870s - the good climate of this area and the fertile soil around the Fremont River allowed for successful orchards to be established. The settlers have long since left, departing around the time this area was designated as a national monument in 1937, but fruit is still grown and can be picked in season, for a small fee. Several traditional pioneer dwellings survive and may be visited free of charge. Other attractions along UT 24 include several petroglyph panels, near the Hickman Bridge trailhead, and a powerful waterfall along the Fremont River. All other parts of the extensive park backcountry are reached only by cross-country hiking or unpaved roads, the two main routes being Notom-Bullfrog Road and Cathedral Valley Road.
||Long, narrow ridge of upturned, multicolored strata, topped by huge white domes of Navajo sandstone, and crossed by many narrow canyons. Park includes large areas of desert land on either side, with many other eroded formations
|Nearest city with hotels:
||Torrey, 4 miles
||38.291087, -111.261467 (visitor center)
||All year. Many areas are very hot in summer
|Capitol Reef - Photographs|
Capitol Reef Hotels: Best Western Capitol Reef Resort in Torrey is the closest hotel to Capitol Reef National Park, indeed the last building of any kind when approaching the park from the west; the resort is on the north side of highway 24, 3 miles east of Torrey town center and 9 miles from the park visitor center. The 97 room hotel has a particularly scenic location and enjoys views of tall red sandstone cliffs in all directions. The Best Western has a gift shop & outfitter shop, photography gallery, outdoor pool, tennis/basketball courts and a restaurant.
Check rates at the Best Western Capitol Reef Resort
Other hotels near Capitol Reef National Park: Caineville, Torrey, Green River