The Grand Circle Tour – Day Three – Capitol Reef National Park

Traveling From Bryce to Torrey and Touring Capitol Reef

Again on day three, the journey was part of the entertainment.  Traveling along Utah SR-12 was something special.  It is nicknamed the All-American Road and we were treated to amazing sights and panoramas all along the way.

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This reminded us of a Greek or Roman ruin.
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Rugged Ranch Building

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Utah’s SR-12 – Scenic Byway – The All-American Road

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St Anthony of the Desert Catholic Church in Torrey, UT

 

Capitol Reef is one of the newer national parks.  It was established in 1971 to preserve approximately 378 square miles of desert landscape.  It is about 60 miles long on its north-south axis and is only six miles wide, on average.  The park was named for a line of white Navajo Sandstone cliffs with dome formations that resemble the white domes placed on capitol buildings.

As we approached the park, we did not know what to expect.  However, this time Nature was giving us an abundance of clues that the show was about to start.  All around us were imposing rock formations.  The colors were varied, but were decidedly more reddish than Bryce and Zion.  Below are some sights we encountered at a scenic overlook between the Capitol Reef entrance and the visitor center.

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Stefan – The Capitol Reef Greeter

After a quick stop at the visitor center to secure a map and some advice, we decided to stay in our vehicle and take the Scenic Drive.  We headed out on the 10-mile road, passing orchards and campgrounds, while surrounded by amazing rock formations in every direction.  The trek was eight miles on a paved road, followed by a two-mile stretch on a dirt road.  (Strangely, the return trip seemed like an entirely different route as we noticed new things from a different perspective.)  The best part was definitely at the end when the pavement stopped and the dirt road began.  As the park ranger explained to me, “It’s the closest thing to hiking through a slot canyon on foot that you can experience in a car.”  He was not wrong – the canyon walls closed in and the views were fantastic.

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When you spend a lot of time with the rocks, you start to see things.  How many faces do you see here?

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White Navajo Sandstone Dome – Perhaps a “Capitol” Dome

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