October 7-14, 2014
We hit the visitor center as soon as we were set up in the campground and then went back to read a little deeper a few days later. It is a very nice visitor center sitting in the lush, green valley of Fruita with high multi-layered rock walls behind it. The sandstone exterior made it look like it was part of the surrounding land – very nicely done.
Inside the visitor center is a movie theater, a well stocked gift shop, and interpretive displays. There is a large three dimensional map (my favorite for visualizing an area) and many alcoves explaining the different geology, history and natural wonders inside the park. AND it explains the waterpocket fold that earned the park its name and its park protection. The giant buckling of the land that occurred 65 million years ago created ridges over 100 miles long with few passages through to the other side. The subsequent erosion that has been ongoing since that time caused beautiful contrasting layers of stone to be exposed.
The three dimensional map is marked with the different areas of the park, trails, passages, wilderness area, four wheel drive roads, rock formations, etc. with photos and explanations of many of them along the side. It is very well done and gives you a good idea of the elevation changes and the different ecosystems within the park.
The rangers are extremely helpful and the park puts on numerous ranger programs and walks to help people explore the many aspects of the park. I’m sure I’ll miss some things but Capitol Reef has something for just about everyone: Geology, Astronomy (dark skies), Archeology, Human History (Ancient Fremont Culture, Mormon Community, Pioneer Register), camping, hiking, back country exploration, plant and animal studies, etc. If nothing else interests you, there are some incredible views.
We will post separate blog entries for the campground and hikes we took.