Utah's Waterpocket Fold
This trip is a hiker's dream. Enjoy walking through geologic time at the Grand Staircase, visiting the Fruita settlement, and revealing in the breathtaking rock formations. Spend nights at comfortable lodges as you prepare for the next day's adventure.
6 Days: Trip Fee $1895
Itinerary Details Available Dates
Event Name 2019 Dates Fee Registration Hike Utah’s Sleeping Rainbow 9/16-9/21/19 $1895 Register Now Event Name 2020 Dates Fee Registration Utah’s Sleeping Rainbow 9/14-9/19/20 $1895 Register Now
Geological features provide the source of many of the park’s names in the area. The vast expanse of white Navajo Sandstone atop the sloped side of the monocline is dotted with numerous natural tanks or potholes that collect rainwater, contributing to the name "Waterpocket" Fold. Navajo Sandstone domes resemble the Capitol building, hence the name "Capitol." Many early prospectors were former sailors who likened the vertical cliffs of Wingate Sandstone to a barrier common in nautical travel, "Reef."
The area of Capitol Reef has been a home to many people for thousands of years. Originally this was home to Archaic hunters and gatherers who migrated through the canyons. Then Fremont Culture solidified, 500 CE, from food foraging groups and farmers. Petroglyphs etched into rock walls and painted pictographs remain as sacred remnants of the ancient natives' saga. Explorers, Mormon pioneers, and others arrived in the 1800s, settling in to what is now the Fruita Rural Historic District. They planted and nurtured orchards of apples, pears, and peaches, which are still present today.
The Waterpocket Fold defines Capitol Reef National Park. An 87-mile long warp in the Earth's crust, the Waterpocket Fold is a classic monocline: a regional fold with one very steep side in an area of otherwise nearly horizontal layers. A monocline is a "step-up" in the rock layers. The rock layers on the west side of the Waterpocket Fold have been lifted more than 7000 feet higher than the layers on the east.
More recent uplift of the entire Colorado Plateau and the resulting erosion has exposed this fold at the surface only within the last 15 to 20 million years. The name Waterpocket Fold reflects this ongoing erosion of the rock layers. Erosion of the tilted rock layers continues today forming colorful cliffs, massive domes, soaring spires, stark monoliths, twisting canyons, and graceful arches.
Capitol Reef National Park contains nearly a quarter million acres in the slickrock country of Utah. Plant and animal life is diverse because of a variety of habitats such as pinyon-juniper, perennial streams, dry washes and rock cliffs.