Capitol Reef and the Grand Staircase

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November 28th 2015
Published: December 1st 2015
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R: sounds a bit like a children's book... We moved on from Arches to Capitol reef, a smaller national park in between there and Bryce Canyon. Cate wasn't feeling too well so spent much of the drive with her eyes shut - so I am writing this bit as the only witness to the day's activities! It's about 3 hours drive between the two along Highway 12 - an official "all american road" apparently. I never really worked out what this actually means, but it is possibly one of the most scenic drives of my life (up there with the Transfagarasan road in Romania).

Capitol Reef had some good vistas and lots of interesting rock formations made of numerous exposed layers. There were some Native American petroglyphs (rock carvings) to be found, and I did a great river walk but didn't find the natural arch I was looking for. Plenty of Cacti, though! We did find a group of happy looking turkeys, that had escaped the Thanksgiving chop, but I suspect they have less than a month on this planet...

Strangely, there is a massive orchard at the bottom of Capitol reef canyon which was planted by Mormon pioneers. We found an early Mormon house in the valley with a great sign which said something along the lines of "this house was built in 1842 by Mormon pioneers, but was abandoned in 1843 because it was too cold here". A classic American success story right there... We stayed in a motel in Torrey which is a tiny pioneer town with not much going on, but didn't manage to grab a decent pizza before moving on to the next leg of the trip - the grand staircase-escalate national monument.

Incidentally, most of the motels we have been staying at are run by Mormons, evidenced by the number of Books of Mormon printed into different languages. I haven't picked up a copy just yet...

This drive followed the all American highway 12 on to Bryce canyon, but it goes up and over a series of narrow ridges and switchbacks at sometimes steep down each side (imagine a road over striding edge in the Lake District). It was fun to drive, but hard to see Out and concentrate on not ploughing the car over into the abyss.

The photos can't possibly show you how amazing these places are -
Factory ButteFactory ButteFactory Butte

Just happened upon this on Highway 12
they need to be seen to be believed. The colours of he different rock layers in the grand staircase are incredible.

Overall though, I wouldn't make a special effort for Capitol reef national park, but driving Highway 12 and seeing Grand Staircase was definitely worth it.

When we arrived in Bryce Canyon, the weather suddenly changed...

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