Sunday, May 19, 2013


The park got it's name from the great white rock formations which resemble the U.S. Capitol building, and from the sheer cliffs or reef that presented a barrier to early travelers.

It's a quiet Sunday afternoon, with nothing happening, so I decided to catch up on where we’ve traveled since I last blogged. From Arches and Canyonlands we drove through harsh desert into Capitol Reef’s lush valley along the Fremont River.  The history of an area is what interests me. From indigenous people to Mormon pioneers this fertile area was used for thousands of years. The early Mormon pioneers planted orchards of peaches, cherries, apricots, pears, apples, plums, mulberries, almonds and walnuts and now the National Park Service maintains the orchards with historic cultural practices and the public is allowed to pick the ripe fruit. We were there the wrong time of year to enjoy the fruit, but we did enjoy the fresh baked scones, bread and pies from the Gifford House. This farmhouse was built in 1908 by polygamist Calvin Pendleton, along with a barn and smokehouse. Eventually, it was purchased by the Gifford family where they lived for 41 years. In 1969 they sold the farm to the park.  Now the Gifford House is a Natural History Museum, gift shop and bakery conveniently located next to the campground.



We also enjoyed a few hikes to overlooks and remote canyons to view petroglyphs, pictographs and names etched onto walls of pioneers that traveled through in 1871. Now it’s called graffiti and we did see a lot of that too. I love to hike but 8 miles is about my limit. I enjoy and prefer 2 to 4 mile day hikes. Most trails require some steep uphill climbs and I'm always huffing and puffing on the uphill and stopping now and then to rest (and anyone else we meet is doing the same).  Not Dick! I think he’s part mountain goat. I hear no huffing and puffing and he only stops to rest to take pictures. Then when we’re done with a 3 mile hike, he’ll head out on another 8 mile hike. Amazing!

Taken in 1979 when we camped at Capitol Reef - our first home on wheels

NOTE: Remember Aron Ralston?  We drove by the dirt road that leads to the slot canyon, which is in a very remote area southwest of Canyonlands National Park, where Aron was hiking when a boulder dislodged and he was trapped for 127 Hours (also a movie by that title Movie Trailer).  This is also the same area as Robbers Roost the outlaw hideout for Butch Cassidy and his wild bunch gang. This rough terrain is difficult to navigate into without detection. 
NOTE: In the Utah/Arizona border area we saw many women dressed in long pastel blue dresses that looked like they walked off a Little House on the Prairie movie set. We were told different stories of the polygamy that still exists today in certain areas of the US. After hearing all these stories and seeing what I saw as we drove through the town of Colorado City, AZ and other small UT towns, it peaked my curiosity and so I've been reading different bits of information about them. In the early 20th century, the FLDS church splintered off from the mainstream Mormon faith and took up shop in the twin border towns of Colorado City, AZ and Hildale, UT. There are a lot of misconceptions about the FLDS community (Fundamentalist Ladder Day Saints). A lot of people mistakenly lump FLDS polygamists in with the LDS Mormon faith. The fundamentalists strictly adhere to what was originally a tenant of Mormon faith (being polygamy), while the LDS church has since disowned the practice. We were also told that many polygamists leave their homes in a suspended state of construction because this allows them to avoid paying some type of taxes on the properties. Yes, the homes (large homes) in these towns were left unfinished on the outside but I haven't found any information about this fact.

Polygamist women and children
(I'm not judging these women, I just can't believe the rules they have to follow and nothing is done about it)

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