March 15, 2009

Capitol Reef

Our campsite last week had this view of the Henry Mountains to the east.
To the west lay the terrain of Capitol Reef National Park - so called because of the white, rock domes seen in the area. Our ride into Capitol Reef started at a remote hikers' trailhead on the eastern side of the park, not far from Sandy Ranch. The sign shown below was unnecessary. No way any vehicle was going past this point. The terrain was just too rough.
The trail was poorly marked at first, and not marked at all after a few hundred yards. We ended up going up and down canyons, some steep and rocky, along and through a creek, finally reaching the Waterpocket Fold, the backbone of Capitol Reef.
Here it is up close and personal. That's snow you see in the crevices on the shady side of the canyon.
A surprise and highlight of the trip was this cave (Steve is standing in the entryway):

This one was even larger than Cowboy Cave. Although an archeology site sign was present, we found no other direct information, either there or online later. The Park Service site mentions that people of the Fremont culture lived in the area from 900 AD to about 1500 AD. Presumably, this cave (maybe we should call it an overhang, since it's only about 40 feet deep) was inhabited then.
This rock found under the overhang shelter shows signs of having been used as a grinding stone. The smaller dark pieces are potshards.

Tiny corncobs (the glove is there to show size) were scattered about in the cave:

A corncob and another grinding rock:
These strange petroglyphs might represent a snake. Or perhaps the peckings are a map of the river?

On the ride out, we saw this section of fossilized tree.

The cliffs provided the perfect frame for the Henry Mountains.

Back at the trailer, we watched the sunset, slept the sleep of the innocent (mostly) and in the morning enjoyed another fine view of the first rays of sun hitting the peaks of Capitol Reef.


  1. Gorgeous! How amazing to see these nooks and cranies I'd never otherwise know about. I assume you've been to Lower Calf Creek Falls? Did you know the mountain pass between Boulder and Torey is the second highest (elevation) in the Continental US?

  2. The arid terrain looks stunningly good.

    The light and the dry landscape reminds me of outback in australia.

    Thanks for posting these wonderful images!

  3. Wow. This Western scenery is just stunning, a waking dream of an adventure! And riding through it no less ... Riding horseback is the way to go. Love the expert photography. Your everyday life looks like the kind they make movies about.

  4. Hi Janie---Wow, you two had another great trip, didn't you??? Love that big cave (or overhang)... NEAT!!!!

    We had a great trip to Arkansas --although the weather was crazy. It started out in the 80's --and then came the rains and storms.. AND then--we had a horrible Ice Storm.. BUT--the good news was that due to all of the rains, the waterfalls were flowing nicely.. YOu know how much we loved that!!! ha

    Have a great week.

  5. The stuff of stories. Beautiful, beautiful place. Thanks for sending this magic to the East Coast!

  6. Hallo Janie, I enjoyed your wonderful trip on horseback very much! The landscape is stunning, and I was happy that you allowed the pictures to enlarge. Great scenery, thanks for posting these wonderful images!
    Your horses look so nice, I think riding must be wonderful!

  7. Thank you for taking us along on your ride. Not sure I'd want to ride up to the snow though. I get enough of that!

  8. How interesting to find signs of other lives in the area. Beautiful pictures of a beautiful part of the continent.

  9. I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoy going along on your travels through Utah.

  10. How lucky you are to be able to enjoy nature all the time like you do. Camping, horseback riding, amazing finds - what more could one want? Love all your photos...



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