Capitol Reef National Park – A Sculptors Masterpiece in the Making

Part of June 14th and June 15th ~ Capitol Reef NP, Torrey, Utah

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

Situated in Wayne County, Utah, this area was originally named “Wayne Wonderland”. Adopted into the National Park fold in 1971, it is a long, skinny section of land 60 miles long, but averaging only 6 miles wide. 

“The local word reef refers to any rocky barrier to land travel, just as ocean reefs are barriers to sea travel. Capitol Reef encompasses the Waterpocket Fold, a warp in the earth’s crust that is 65 million years old. It is the largest exposed monocline in North America. The area was named for a line of white domes and cliffs of Navajo Sandstone, each of which looks somewhat like the United States Capitol building.”  ~ Wikipedia

Entering the park – shot through the window

We arrived mid afternoon on the 14th, in time to take the Scenic Drive that begins at the visitors center, where we had stopped to stamp the passport and watch a short film.

The Gifford House

The Gifford House is located in the Fruita Historic District of the park and was part of the Mormon settlement in this valley. Surrounded by still thriving orchards that the early settlers planted, the homestead offers up delicious pies for sale as well as other freshly jarred salsa and pickled vegetables. We picked up a mixed fruit berry pie for our dessert along with a jar of peach salsa, sweet onion relish and German sauerkraut.

Our food purchases from the Gifford House – all natural whole ingredients that Tim can eat!

And right next door to the house you will find thriving green orchards, and an old barn that I found very picturesque.

Old barn – what an ideal setting

It was late afternoon and the cliffs were ablaze of color.

Almost zebra stripes on the side of the cliff, but in reds, browns and yellows

Such different shapes and textures everywhere you look

Egyptian Temple

Many layers of color including the silver slick rock

At the end of the drive, the pavement ended, and the Capitol Gorge Road began. It was dirt, and rough, but passable for most vehicles as long as it was dry.

So far on this trip we have walked into a slot canyon, rode a horse into a slot canyon, and now we were driving a car through a slightly wider slot canyon. Pretty awesome!

Driving through a narrow canyon – Awesome!

The next morning (the 15th), we rested and tried to get in a bit of time on the computers. Both of us were having some withdrawal symptoms, lol.

I understand that the twitches go away after you have checked emails, Facebook, and Yahoo…

There was a great little restaurant right next to the RV park that we decided to check out for lunch. The sign had caught my eye the night before, “Fresh, Natural, Delicious, Affordable” – sounds like our kind of place!

Capitol Reef Inn & Cafe

If you do stop in, be sure to notice the walls along the walkway. They are made out of petrified wood. The food was delicious and we ended up going back for dinner. It is not often that we can find a restaurant where Tim can feel so comfortable ordering without fear of getting an allergic reaction. Such a treat for us and we definitely recommend the food!

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Also in Torrey, is a historic site, an old church/schoolhouse.

Torrey log church and schoolhouse, built in 1898

But this is not to be confused with the old Fruita Schoolhouse inside the park, that butts up to the cliff.

Our timing was perfect to join the ranger lecture on the petroglyphs. The Petroglyph Panel is along highway 24. The etchings were carved into the side of the canyon walls by the Fremont people who inhabited this area for approximately 1,000 years.

Petroglyph Panels wall

But I’m guessing that you too can’t see them very well on the side of the cliff, so thanks to Tim and his long-range lens, we have some close-up shots to share:

This was my favorite, looked like aliens

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We had planned on taking a two-mile round trip hike to see the Hickman Bridge, but with temperatures in the 90’s, it just did not sound like fun. We are debating whether or not to get up early in the morning and do the hike on our way out-of-town, as we have to pass right by here on our way toward Moab.

I really did want to see that awesome stone arch/bridge in person…

One last stop was to take in the view from Panorama Point.

Gus thought the view rocked!

GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful for the very sweet waitress at Capitol Reef Inn and Cafe. We were so excited to find a salad dressing that Tim could eat that we asked if they sold it. Although no one had ever asked to purchase their Honey Mustard dressing before, they figured out that they could put it in the small individual serving size plastic condiment cups with lids and would sell them to us for .25 each. We thought that was a deal and requested eight of them, plus a slice of cherry pie a la mode to go. Imagine my surprise when we returned to our RV and unpacked to find eight cups filled with just HONEY. Somehow the message had been misunderstood, but we appreciate the kindness, none the less!

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our latest adventure. We hope you will join us!
This entry was posted in National Parks, Photography, RV Life, United States, Utah and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Capitol Reef National Park – A Sculptors Masterpiece in the Making

  1. lulu says:

    You remind that one should be grateful for simple things.


  2. Capitol Reef N.P. was our favorite park when we visited the National Parks in Southern Utah. The hike to the Tanks was a lot of fun. The pies were delicious. Safe travels


  3. Terry says:

    Fun, Fun, Fun. Oh that relish and salsa sounds delicious. Glad you did not brave that heat, it would really hit hard, I am an old desert rat so know how the heat effects you.


    • Terry, I lived in the Palm Springs area for a couple years back in the early 1980’s and found out just how dangerous the extreme heat can be. After suffering heat stroke, I don’t take it lightly either. We have not tried the salsa yet, but it certainly sounds yummy.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. joylennick says:

    Reblogged this on Joy Lennick and commented:
    Some outstanding photographs, and what sights waiting to be snapped! Food looked good too!


  5. I love reading your grateful moment. It makes one so much content come to think of it. We missed this park when when we were in Utah. Too many things to see and not enough time. Thanks to you I can read about it from your blog 🙂


  6. paperpopups says:

    More breath taking photos – oh thank you from the bottom of my heart. Yes, it made my day.

    For the honey mustard salad dressing – you should use real honey from your home area (to avoid allergy reactions) and try this:
    1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon Djion mustard.
    1/4 cup honey.
    1/4 cup cider vinegar.
    1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt.
    1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, like soy, peanut, or corn.
    Be sure to refridgerate even though folklore says you do not have to with honey – that it should keep forever without going bad.

    Happy thoughts,


    • And you made my day, both by your lovely sentiment and by thoughtfully including a recipe for us to try. I have been wanting to make up some homemade dressings for Tim and this sounds perfect. Thank you!!!


  7. Anabel Marsh says:

    Due to a booking error on (ahem) my part, we stayed 4 nights in Torrey instead of 3. Turned out to be no problem – plenty of stunning hikes, plus the amazing Cathedral Valkey drive where we got caught in a thunderstorm. Thank goodness John was driving, we’d have probably slipped off the edge if it had been me!


    • I long ago decided that our booking slips (yes, I too have made several of them) are only opportunities to see more or something different than what was planned. Usually turns out for the best. Glad to know that you stayed safe!


  8. Widdershins says:

    Just add mustard, right? 😀 … I wonder what your next slot canyon is going to be. 🙂


  9. Brenda Thompson says:

    What a wonderful surprise to read this. Steve and I just got back from being with friends today, where we were discussing where our next trip will be with them. We chose April 2018 (to celebrate our friend’s bday) to travel through Utah to see their National Parks. Thanks for all this great information. It will be of great value to us.
    I love all your photos, with the one of my favorites being the “zebra stripes” going down the side of the mountain, and one in particular of driving through the narrow canyon—so beautiful!!!


    • Brenda, I know you will all LOVE seeing this area. The National Parks are amazing. There is so much to see, and especially with your love of hiking, you will be able to do/see even more than us. Can’t wait to hear what your itinerary will be. ❤ ❤


  10. I visited that park a while back and enjoyed it’s beauty and the fact it was quiet and less populated than others.


  11. Jane Sturgeon says:

    Oh what a wonderful place and yes, that barn and the setting….I am there inside creating and pottering about. 🙂 It’s so lovely of you to share this with us. Xx


  12. After reading this wonderful post, I think I might have to use some of my vacation days next year and take a trip out there, stopping off to purchase some sauerkraut, salsa and relish. I’m hungry now!


  13. tippysmom2 says:

    Another wonderful day. It is interesting how varied the landscape is in such a small space. I didn’t realize what the definition of reef was until I read this. Thank you for helping me learn something today.


  14. Trish Hatcher says:


    Liked by 1 person

  15. nanci dixon says:

    Good decision to not go on the Hickman Bridge Trailhead at 90 degrees. We climbed (and climb is the operative word) it at around 70 degrees and it was still hot and hard, at least for non-athletic us. Made it to the top, but had to rest on the way a lot up and down.
    Love all the info you are including in your blog. Even though we seem to be traveling the same route, I am learning even more about the places we visited. Nice photos!


    • Nanci, we would have loved to get to Hickman Bridge, but, as in raising children, sometimes you have to “choose your battles”. I’m afraid I might have lost that
      round, lol. Glad our blog is giving you a couple more bits of info.


  16. curvyroads says:

    Gorgeous photos JoAnne! We loved Capitol Reek and did several wonderful hikes at Hickman Bridge, Capitol Gorge (all the way up to the Tanks!), and the Fremont River trail up to an incredible viewpoint where we were totally alone for probably 45 minutes! I’m so sorry it’s so hot, but those hikes would not be fun in 100+.


  17. Pingback: Month of June Travels in our National Parks ~ Highlight Moments in Pictures | A Note From Abroad

  18. Jim & Jane says:

    We picked up a Peach Salsa and Rubarb Strawberry pie from Gifford House. I wish you had told us how delicious they are, we would have bought 2 of both ! Sooo good !


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