Where can you find stunning geology, world-renowned stargazing, and rich anthropological history all in one place? Try Capitol Reef National Park, a little-known outdoor paradise nestled in the south central desert of Utah.
Capitol Reef National Park is named for two of its distinct features: a series of Navajo Sandstone structures whose rounded-dome shapes resemble the U.S. Capitol Building, and the Wingate Sandstone – a towering rock formation made up of sharp, impassable cliffs described by early settlers with a nautical term for barrier, “reef.”
Capitol Reef has some of the clearest night sky viewing in the world. In fact, the park was recognized by the International Dark-Sky Association as a Gold-tier International Dark Sky Park in 2015. During your stay, you’ll find breathtaking views of stars, planets, and meteor showers uninhibited by light pollution.
On Wilderness Inquiry’s 6-day guided adventure, you’ll spend your time in Capitol Reef learning about its unique history. From indigenous peoples to Mormon settlers, many groups have called the area home for thousands of years – leaving behind both legacies and mysteries. For example, from 700 to 1300 AD, members of the indigenous Fremont Culture left detailed pictographs (paintings on rock surfaces) and petroglyphs (carvings or etchings in rock) around the area. The meaning of these images and messages is unknown, but modern visitors still marvel and speculate about their ancient, intricate art.
The Waterpocket Fold might be the park’s most remarkable feature. Spanning almost 100 miles, the fold consists of deep, twisting canyons and golden sandstone rock formations that can be explored via a multitude of hiking trails. The fold is a monocline, meaning it tracks a rupture in the earth’s crust – the rock layers on its western side are raised about 7,000 feet above those in the east. The formation’s bright colors and stark beauty have earned it the nickname ‘Sleeping Rainbow.’
See for yourself this fall on an adventure to Capitol Reef National Park with Wilderness Inquiry!