Farewell to Capitol Reef National Park

We didn’t have enough time to walk much of Capitol Reef NP, but the two hikes we did manage were quite different from our earlier hike in Goblin Valley.

We were constantly amazed what waited us around the corner on our walks.

It was only from the road, though, that we caught glimpses of the park's varied topography.

Though I wanted to get to get to Ogden on the day we left, I couldn’t resist the temptation to pull off the road and get yet another shot.

It was probably no accident that the park headquarters was built directly across from this view.

It was a fitting conclusion to a delightful trip.

More Pictures from Capitol Reef

I took so many pictures at Capitol Reef I’ve had a time narrowing down which shots to post here. The fact that it is really impossible to convey the size of these rock formations hasn't made the process any easier. Unfortunately, images that demanded to be captured don’t seem nearly as impressive flat on the screen.

That said, I’ve enjoyed reviewing the images and processing them. Most of these shots were taken as we entered the park from the East side, before we entered the heart of the park. Although we were glad to see the fall foliage, I suspect these shots might have been even more spectacular with green trees contrasting with the cliffs.

Navaho Dome is an easily recognizable landmark.

I’ll have to admit, though, that the mesas were my favorite landmark,

possibly because they remind me of all the John Wayne westerns I saw as a kid.

Really, though, it was virtually impossible to turn around without discovering startling beautiful structures

The Colors and Textures of Capitol Reef

As I process all the HDR scenics I took at Capitol Reef, the beautiful colors and the beautiful textures stand out. I don’t remember ever seeing as much orange rock as we saw in Capitol Reef.

As if the reds and oranges weren’t enough, the rock cliffs reveal layer after layer of sedimentary strata.

There is a stark beauty here that is hard to find anywhere else.

Capitol Reef’s Freemont Petroglyphs

Our first stop in Capitol Reef National Park was the Fremont Petroglyphs, a personal favorite. As long-time readers are probably aware, Loren loves petroglyphs. I’ll drive as far to see petroglyphs as I do to see unusual birds.

I’ve managed to see a lot of sites and read several books on the subject over the years, but I was surprised by some of the figures I saw in Capitol Reef.

I’ve never seen human figures with “horns” on the top of their head like these figures.

The second figure from the left in this close-up was particularly fascinating.

It almost seems like an animal head on a human body, though I have no idea what kind of animal has horns and a wolf-like head.

Some of the clearest petroglyphs, perhaps indicating they are more recent, were these Bighorn Sheep,

besmirched by Horace’s obviously recent graffiti.

The worst part of seeing the petroglyphs defaced like this is that you can never be sure what is original and what is more recent.

Did an ancient Fremont artist draw the strange shape to the right of the Bighorn Sheep or was it created recently by someone who felt a sick need for attention?

Goblin Valley State Park

Since Capitol Reef was our real destination and Goblin Valley was a spur-of-the-moment decision, we couldn’t spend nearly the amount of time there it really deserved though I’m sure we’ll return and explore the two-thirds of the park we didn’t have time to explore.

I took a lot of pictures while I was there. It’s hard not to let you imagination run free and see “goblins” that are as much a reflection of your own imagination as they are results of erosion.

It’s a lot like cloud-watching, though if there were as many clouds as there were goblins you’d have rain.

We had some great views.

It would have taken considerably more planning than we did to find our way through the maze of outcroppings. We kept running into dead ends.

As it was, we got our daily allowance of exercise just exploring the structures near the visitors’ center.

Still, I’m glad we ignored our “plans” and took this side trip.

Goblin Valley State Park

Leslie wanted to visit Capitol Reef National Park on our way home and I readily agreed because it is one of the parks in Utah that I have never seen before. On our way there I saw a sign giving the mileage to Goblin Valley State Park, a park that I had heard about two years before but didn’t have time to visit that trip. Since it was only 21 miles off our route, I thought it would be a good idea to stop. I’m glad I did; the park was nearly amazing as it had been described.

There were even some amazing sights on the 21 mile route. I think this must have been the Goblin’s Castle


Just before the park entrance we saw some Goblin scouts.

From the parking lot the Valley of the Goblins reminded us of the Terra Cotta warriors found in Emperor Qin's Tomb

I am glad we visited the site in the daylight because I imagine the weird shapes could become terrifying monsters in the dark.

Canyonlands’ Island in the Sky

Canyonlands NP, at least the Island in the Sky portion of the park, is just up the road from Arches NP. I’ve been there before, but since Leslie hadn’t been we decided to spend an afternoon there before heading out to Goblin Valley and Capitol Reef NP.

Island in the Sky provides completely different views than Arches. Instead of looking up at remarkable rock structures, you stand on top of them or look down at them. In that sense, it reminds me of the North Side of Grand Canyon.

While there’s much that’s impressive, I’ve always been drawn by the road that drops down into the canyon.

Leslie made it pretty clear that if I ever do drive it that I’ll have to drive it by myself.

Still, it’s hard not to be drawn to a road that seems to lead to nowhere, or, perhaps, into a distant past.

For some, it’s apparently enough just to stand

on the edge without descending into the belly of the beast.

It’s hard to believe that ancient natives could survive here

though petroglyphs testify otherwise.