Last night the skies cleared up and the Big Dipper appeared. Unfortunately, the area below the Dipper still had clouds, so we didn’t see the comet, but we’ll try again tonight. We had a cooler night than we’ve had for weeks which was so refreshing. This morning, we ran the heat for a short while to take the chill out of the air. We had our usual Sunday breakfast and then got ready to head into the park today. It was a little breezy, but we had sunny skies and temps should be in the 70’s. It is a good day for touring the park. We noticed that 5 OHV side-by-sides left on a run this morning.
We left around 10:00 to do some exploring of Capitol Reef National Park. It only a 10 minute drive to the entrance of the park and the drive there is very beautiful.
We got our first look at Chimney Rock, a large red fin rock formation.
At the entrance, we stopped to take a picture.
Once in the park, our first stop was Panorama Point and Goosenecks Point Overlook.
We had to drive 1 mile on a dirt road to get to the 0.1 mile walk to the overlook.
From the overlook, you can see multiple goosenecks of the Sulfur Creek 800 ft. below.
The creek is a tributary of the Colorado River.
Going out to the main road (Hwy. 24) we caught a view of The Castle towering high above us.
Many of the rock formations look similar from one direction and different from another side.
At the Visitor Center, we turned off to take the 8 mile scenic drive which began at the Fruita Historic District. Capitol Reef maintains one of the largest historic orchards in the National Park service with almost 3000 trees including apple, peach, pear, apricot, cherry and plum.
The Fruita area is named after the town of Fruita. The historic district includes a Blacksmith Shop,
the Gifford House (a store and museum with Morman pioneer history),
The paved road took us through so many areas of the park that were just draw-dropping gorgeous.
Our next side trip was to go down Grand Wash Road which is a gravel road 1.3 miles into the canyon. Unfortunately, Grand Wash Road was closed due to the 1 1/2 inches of rain that they had recently in just about 2 hours causing flash flooding.
So we parked and walked in. The scenery, of course, was awesome as we meandered down the wide gravel road.
This is looking up one of the washes.
As we walked farther into the canyon, we saw some terrific views.
On the way back to the Jeep, we noticed this stone building used during the uranium mining that was done here.
These holes with grates over the entrances were once uranium mines.
This rock has white raised lines running through it. Very unusual!
Back on the scenic drive again, we passed Slick Rock Divide and on we went.
The scenery continued to amaze me.
We took another side trip on Pleasant Creek Road which was another 4WD dirt road.
We didn’t know where it went or what we’d see, but we were on that road all by ourselves.
There were more amazing views in every direction.
We went about 7 miles before we decided to turn around. Back on the main road, we were on our way to Capitol Gorge–a deep canyon via a dirt road of 2.4 miles.
The canyon walls got steeper and the road got narrower.
The rock walls displayed all kinds of patterns.
We saw the Golden Throne perched high above us.
On our way out of the canyon, we were treated to a sighting of a male and female bighorn sheep grazing in the canyon. I finally got to see not one, but two. How special is that?
Our drive to the Visitor Center gave a great view from another direction.
Love this sign at the Visitor Center.
This gnarly old tree must be hundreds of years old.
Our next to last stop was at the petroglyph panel on the canyon wall where the petroglyphs were placed in 600-1300 C.E.
We headed back with dark clouds moving in over the mountains.
We caught sight of Capitol Dome named for its resemblance to the U.S. Capitol.
At one of the ranger residences, Bob spotted a nice-sized buck just eating grass in the yard.
Auggie, Bob, and I sat outside until a rain cloud moved over us. Then we moved inside for awhile. The skies cleared and as the sun set, it made the opposite hillside glow.
We didn’t have any luck seeing the comet last night. It was too cloudy right where the comet would have passed. We’ll give it another try tonight.