Once we left the Tavaputz Plateau, we encountered just a few dirt roads, but the scenery was fabulous.
Heading South, we passed through Helper, so named because coal trains required a “helper locomotive” to get over the mountain.
There is no direct route from Helper to Capitol Reef National Park. Therefore, just down the road from Helper in Price, we chose a smaller road, Utah 10, because it passed closer to the mountains than U.S. 191 and Utah 24. We then took Utah 72 over Hogan Pass. It was a fortunate decision. 72 led to the west entrance of the park while 24 comes in from the east. The next day, we learned the east entrance was blocked by a landslide. Indeed, we might have been victims of the landslide had we gone that way.
The roads in Capitol Reef National Park are good, and even the dirt road back to Capitol Gorge is passable by most automobiles in good weather.
Capitol Reef takes its name from the ancient fold of white Navajo sandstone over red Wingate sandstone cliffs. Some thought the domes in the sandstone resembled the dome of the U.S. Capitol building.
Early Mormon pioneers established farms and orchards along the Freemont River and the community of Fruita near where the park headquarters is now.
Capitol Gorge was once a pioneer trail, but now is only accessible by foot. There you can see the “Pioneer Register” a rock wall on which pioneers wrote their names, in other words, pioneer graffiti. Signs warned there was a $100 fine for modern graffiti. I think they should designate a rock as “Tourist Register” and allow people to write on it.
Click on photos to enlarge and see descriptions.
Date of our visit: early May 1997