Not often does one expect to find a reef on land, but that is exactly what can be found at Capitol Reef National Park, in Utah. The reef is not made of coral, of course, like the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia, but is made instead out of the land itself. The reef is known as the Waterpocket Fold, and it is a long wrinkle in the crust of the Earth, where the ground comes up to form a line that stretches on for miles and miles. It is truly an astonishing and unique thing, and looking at it one can only imagine the geological events that must have come together to thrust the Earth’s skin upward in such a violent fashion. That violence is long in the past, however, and visitors can now view the Waterpocket Fold up close at the Capitol Reef National Park.
The Waterpocket fold provides hours of fun and excitement hiking next to it. It is such a strange environmental feature that one could cover the same ground many times and still be entertained by all of the different details to be seen.
There are a number of camping options. One should weigh them all before attending the park, as they will provide much different experiences. There is developed camping at the Fruita Campground, which has seventy-one sites; this will provide areas for trailers and the like that will make the camping experience a bit easier, while still getting one out into the wild. This is the area of the park that offers water and other amenities, for those who do not want to give up all of the niceties of modern life.
The Cathedral Primitive Campground and the Cedar Mesa Primitive Campground both offer picnic tables and pit bathrooms, but that is all. This is a more extreme idea of camping, where one will have to bring in their own water and surrender electricity. This does provide a great way to see the land as the first settlers much have, giving the Waterpocket Fold a whole new appeal. There is no fee for this type of camping.
Backcountry camping is also allowed, for the most naturalistic of experiences of them all, but a free permit is required. This type of camping puts all of the responsibility on the campers, as they get to choose their own sites, set up their own tent, and must carry in anything they wish to have with them. There are no bathrooms or sources of water; the camping is an honest experience of being out in the wild and having to make it on one’s own, without modern aid.
The Capitol Reef National Park experiences a moderate and expected climate for its place in Utah. The summer sun can get quite hot at ninety degrees Fahrenheit, though that is not blistering. The open land causes the air to cool off a bit in the night, dropping the temperature to the fifties and sixties. The camper should, then, bring multiple layers so as to be comfortable at all times. When hiking in the ninety-degree weather, one will be sweating no matter the clothes, and it is easy to forget that it will be substantially colder at night. A sleeping bag may prove to be enough, especially if one is used to a colder climate, but one should still have shirts and pants so that one can put them on if needed. The fall and spring tend to be in the fifties and sixties during the day, providing a great temperature for hiking and exploring, and even the winters are not brutally cold. Snowfall does come, but is light at low elevations and not overly heavy even higher in the air.
All in all, campers and visitors will love the Capitol Reef National Park. With its many options, the park is an ideal destination with much to offer.