UTAH’S CANYONLANDS--- CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK
Monday, May 14
No name, no fee, side of the road on BLM land, camp spot. 75 degrees at 9:45, with clear blue but hazy skies toward the mountains.
We drove on into the community of Torrey to look it over and to get some gas. Another pioneer Mormon community, but we did see other churches of other denominations here. After filling the tank, we drove back to the Fruita campground inside Capitol Reef National Park to get a spot to camp. After we had secured a spot, at this very nice campground , we drove back down the park entrance road to look at the various sites.
Why is the area interesting? This park preserves the 100 mile buckle of the earth’s crust back over itself called the Waterpocket Fold. This produced a jumble of cliffs, domes, spires and twisted canyons. The narrow canyon is cut by the Fremont River and where it widened out, Mormon pioneers in the 1880’s built cabins, a school house, and barns and planted several orchards of fruit and nut trees.
In one of the cabins that
we measured to be about 15 feet by 15 feet lived the Behunins, a couple and their 10 children. The older boys slept in “caves” they dug out in the rock wall behind the cabin, the older girls slept in the wagon bed, and the parents and younger children slept inside. It is most likely that all meals were eaten outside. I guess it was sort of like camping year round---but they would also have to do this in the winter with snow.
The National Park Service is maintaining and preserving the orchards of 3100 trees and replanting as necessary with the heirloom varieties of cherry, apricot, peach, pear, apple, plum, mulberry, almond and walnut that are found here. When the fruit is ripe, you can go into the orchards and pick what you want and ladders and buckets are provided by the Park Service.
Prior to the Mormon’s arrival, a group of hunter-gathers lived in this valley and left rock art on the sides of the canyon. These people have been identified as unique and separate from their contemporaries, the Anasazi. Called the Fremont Culture they were named for this Fremont River Valley in which sites were
discovered and first defined. They left fiber sandals, unfired clay figures, and a style of baskets and pottery that is different. We were able to see several examples of their rock art on the red cliffs near the main road.
We then drove up a 16 mile scenic drive in the park that clearly illustrates the waterpocket fold with high older, impassable ridges on the west side of the road and younger rocks are to the east. Nearly 10,000 feet of sedimentary strata are found in this area. We also saw different kinds of wildflowers blooming along this road.
Returned to the campground watched the cottonwood blossoms float like snow in the air. Valerie and I both think we may be allergic to them. We encountered them a little later in the year on our Alaskan trip and felt we had a reaction to them.
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