Torrey, UT: Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef is the least-visited of Utah’s National Parks, commonly referred to as “The Mighty Five,” Bryce, Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef, and the last one we had yet to visit.

It’s an odd name, Capitol Reef, an amalgamation of “Capitol” for the white sandstone rock that early visitors thought resembled the U.S. Capitol …

… and a north-to-south barrier called the Waterpocket Fold.  Early settlers called virtually impassable ridges “reefs.”  Tah -dah … Capitol + Reef!

The majority of the developed areas of Capitol Reef are historic to the early Mormon pilgrims who settled here, with no more than 10 families ever in this isolated area at any one time.

This “Fruita Historic District” area has multiple fruit orchards, from which you are invited to pick and eat all the fruit you want while you’re there.  Try not to realize you’re being used as free labor to harvest the fruit from these thousands of trees.

The Gifford House is a historic residence, but forget about that.  Focus instead on the fact that they have famous, hot cinnamon rolls … so famous, in fact, that you arrive later than 8:15 AM (!!!!) they are likely to be sold out.  You’ve been warned!

Scenic driving includes the unpaved Grand Wash Road, with ooohs and ahhhs around every corner.

Eagle-eyed visitors will also spot petroglyphs and antique graffiti from passersby-of-old.

Other notable, namable sights include Twin Rocks ….

…and Fern’s Nipple.  No, really.  Don’t think I don’t hear you snickering.  Who is Fern, and why has she been memorialized thus?

Two banner hikes of reasonable length and difficulty here are the Hickman Natural Bridge Trail, and the Cassidy Arch Trail.  As per usual in national parks, No. Dogs. Allowed.  Boooo!

Cassidy Arch, named for none other than Butch Cassidy who hung out here, is a natural stone arch 400 feet above the canyon floor.  Here I have included helpful arrows as we get close, closer, closest to this beauty!

With movie theaters closed due to Covid, the next best thing is setting up shop in the viewing gallery to watch the younger, crazier, braver folks wrap themselves in rope and throw themselves over the edge and down 400 feet into the hole.

It was a stunning hike in a stunning place!

That’s it from our brief visit to Capitol Reef National Park!

Adios for now!

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