Capitol Reef National Park is located near Torrey, Utah. According to the National Park Service, the name capitol refers to the white domes of Navajo Sandstone that resemble capitol building domes, and the name reef refers to the rocky cliffs that are a barrier to travel, like a coral reef.
Portfolio of Capitol Reef photographs
Why is Capitol Reef National Park significant?
Capitol Reef National Park was established to protect the area around a 65 million year old warp in the earth’s crust, called the Waterpocket Fold. Even more noteworthy, it is the largest exposed monocline in the United States.
In addition to the monocline, there are layer upon layer of sedimentary rocks that record nearly 200 million years of geologic history. These rock layers reveal ancient environments as diverse as rivers and swamps (Chinle Formation), Sahara-like deserts (Navajo Sandstone), and shallow oceans (Mancos Shale).
For more information about the formation of the Waterpocket Fold and the stratigraphic column, read this National Park Service publication. For information about geologic features, such as arches and black lava boulders, read this Park Service publication.
Places to photograph in Capitol Reef
The varied geological and biological landscapes within the park provide many interesting photo opportunities. For instance, there are orchards of cherry, apricot, peach, pear, apple, plum, mulberry, almond and walnut trees around Fruita. And, among these orchards are houses and farm buildings dating from the original Mormon settlement of the area.
Cathedral Valley, in the northern park of the park, is famous for two rock formations: The Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon. But, these two monuments of Entrada Sandstone are not the only notable features. For instance, along Hartnet and Cathedral roads are expansive views. These views include interesting rock formations, desert flora, and rusted oil and farming equipment.
In the south, travel the Notom-Bullfrog Road to see spectacular views of the Waterpocket Fold around Strike Valley. Although this road is mostly unpaved, it is worth the trip.
More of photogenic Utah
In addition to Capitol Reef, here are some more locations on the Colorado Plateau in Utah that are worth your time.
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