Capitol Reef National Park

Trip Day Twenty-eight: Sunday, July 9, 2000

A giant, sinuous wrinkle in the Earth's crust stretches for 100 miles across south-central Utah. This impressive buckling of rock, created 65 million years ago by the same tremendous forces that later uplifted the Colorado Plateau,
is called the Waterpocket Fold.

The stratigraphy of Capitol Reef is layer-cake geology like the rest of the Colorado plateau, tilted to its side by the Waterpocket Fold, a monocline. The youngest layers are still at the top and the oldest layer remains at the bottom, but the eastward dip of the layers in the Waterpocket Fold expose the older rocks on the western side of the park and the younger rocks to the east.

Capitol Reef National Park preserves the fold and its spectacular, eroded jumble of colorful cliffs, massive domes, soaring spires, stark monoliths, twisting canyons, and graceful arches.

The Capitol Reef area was the last explored by white mem in the Continental United States. When the first white explorers arrived in the vicinity of the Waterpocket Fold, both Utes and Southern Paiute nomads were encountered. The early explorers skirted the area because of its fierce ruggedness.

Pioneers called a ridge that was so rugged that it was impassable a reef. So, a reef was a ridge that could not be crossed. The park is characterized by many vaulted white rock domes, like those of modern capitols, and impassable ridges hence the name Capitol Reef.

Relatively unknown, and off the heavily trod tourist trails,
one can enjoy the park in relative quiet.

The Castle

Page last updated August 22, 2000.