The best vacations zoom you in and out: What’s right in front of your face makes you consider broader contexts, and the expanding horizon helps you understand the value of your current little patch of ground. The beach… the mountains… the Pyramids of Giza…
and Capitol Reef National Park.
Capitol Reef National Park is a 100-mile pinch in the earth’s crust in the geographical middle of nowhere, but it’s overloaded with geological, cultural and sensory consequence. A tiny cross-section of the spinning rock we’re clinging to. Named for what it looks like (white rock domes like the U.S. Capitol, rocky ridges like marine reefs) — but isn’t — because it wasn’t like anything anyone had ever seen. Read more...
Salt Lake City- 290 miles to Capitol Reef
Las Vegas, NV- 360 miles to Capitol Reef
Traveling on Interstate 15: Take I-70 east (exit 132). At the junction with Utah State Highway 89/259, turn right (south). Then turn left (east) onto Utah State Highway 24. Continue on Highway 24 for 82 miles to reach the Capitol Reef Park Visitor Center.
From Grand Junction, CO
196 miles to Capitol Reef
Traveling westbound on Interstate 70: Take Utah State Highway 24 west towards Hanksville (exit 149). Stay on Highway 24 for 95 miles to reach the Capitol Reef Park Visitor Center.
...a jagged scar where the devil dragged his pitchfork on the way to Las Vegas (a.k.a a monocline — the seam left over when shifting plates lifted one side of a fault 7,000 feet). Spend three days absorbing what took 70 million years and two major geologic events to create.
There are red and white rock bands…
…more virtuosic than Jack White hisself. The Waterpocket fold horizontalizes layers of white Navajo Sandstone, red Wingate, shale and pinkish Entrada Sandstone like an entropic chunk of tipped cake. Depending on where you stand, the stripes are half an inch or half a mile wide. (You may find the iron in the red rocks magnetizes your camera lens.)
There are ruined civilizations…
…both ancient and recent. Fremont Indian rock shelters a mile and a thousand years from Mormon settlers’ cabins. Pictographs and grinding stones in the cliffs, apple orchards and a one-room schoolhouse in Fruita down below. See how earlier Utahns lived and see if they didn’t do a few things better than us.
Narrow rivers cutting gaping Goosenecks. Chimney Rock. Hickman Bridge. Broken towers’ jagged shadows. Look deep into the earth’s time and space from this one little foothold on, say, a Tuesday.