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Utah Travel Headlines

Monday, August 29, 2011

Canada Free Press Focuses On Capitol Reef National Park

Writing for the Canada Free Press, John Treadwell Dunbar says Capitol Reef National Park deserves special recognition, even when compared with Utah's other spectacular parks.

Below are excerpts from his article. Incidentally, the piece includes stunning photographs of the park.

Among southern Utah’s five magnificent national parks, Capitol Reef deserves special acclaim because it’s less crowded, less commercial, holds bragging rights to red-rock scenery rivaling that of Arches, Bryce, Canyonlands or Zion, and in a day when admission fees are skyrocketing to preposterous levels, except for the official ten-mile “Scenic Drive” it’s the only national park in southern Utah that’s free, for the time being.

Rugged beyond belief and to its credit, remote, this 378-square-mile park is a long, narrow strip of stunning geology, a classic monocline, a 100-mile-long stepped-up wrinkle called the “Waterpocket Fold,” or upthrust, that stretches from the Thousand Lake Plateau north of tiny Torrey, south to the still waters of the Colorado River known today as Lake Powell by most, and Lake Foul by those who continue to mourn Glen Canyon’s senseless inundation.

... Capitol Reef National Park is a towering temple of the earth’s eroding crust, a delectable banquet of out-of-this-world scenery that will steal your breath, weaken your grip on reality and put you in your proper place if you’re not there already.

Wallace Stegner, one of America’s finest authors, referred to the Fruita valley as, “... a sudden intensely green little valley among the cliffs of the Waterpocket Fold, opulent with cherries, peaches, and apples in season, inhabited by a few families who were about equally good Mormons and good frontiersmen and good farmers.”

Evidence of their simple ways can be found at the renovated Gifford farmhouse, smokehouse and barn, a homestead originally built in 1908 by Calvin Pendelton who was a happy but exhausted polygamist back in the days when nightly attendance to multiple wives was a delicate time-honored tradition among essentially decent God-fearing people who leaned a bit too heavily on the Old Testament.

Torrey, nearest the park, is shaded by massive cottonwoods along Main Street and is quietly laboring toward “hipness.” Catering to the park’s visitors and mountain recreationists, and the autumn hunting crowd, it offers lodging, dining, shopping and the arts, but in small doses. It’s very quaint and very quiet, and if I were an artist, a painter, perhaps, I’d live here and ply my craft and help turn this secluded Utah gem into an art colony extraordinaire. With Capitol Reef National Park as a backdrop you’ll never lack for inspiration.

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