Explore Utah's Early History On The Scenic Capitol Gorge Trail In Utah
Capitol Reef National Park is a treasure trove of human history. From its first residents a thousand years ago, to pioneer settlers, the park offers plenty of clues about what life was like long before modern tourists showed up. Take the Capitol Gorge Trail to see petroglyphs, pioneer graffiti, and some cool rock formations.
To start your adventure, take the Capitol Gorge Road. To find it, head south on Scenic Drive from the Fruita Campground. The road forks and you'll head left onto Capitol Gorge Road.
At the end of the road, you'll find a large parking lot...
...and some shaded picnic tables. To avoid crowds, try to visit early on a weekday.
This trail takes you through some magnificent scenery, meandering amongst tall cliffs, and offering up interesting rock formations and traces of the people who visited this area long before you were born.
You'll soon reach a panel of Fremont petroglyphs. Look closely to make out the various symbols and figures - they're fairly light and faded.
The path continues on through wide slot canyons with wrinkled, swirling rock walls.
Notice the interesting pock-marked rock walls...
...and wonder at the strange rock formations and towers.
The Pioneer Register is a huge collection of more than 150 signatures carved into the rock walls more than a century ago. The signatures date all the back to the late 1800s, and go up to about 1930.
You might be tempted to add your own, but don't you dare! Not only is there a $250 fine, but it's the worst kind of vandalism. The fact that these signatures are still highly visible after more than 130 years is testament to the lasting damage of such a prank.
As you continue to make your way down the trail, watch for pretty wildflowers...
...and also wildlife! Make sure you stay on the trail to protect the fragile environment all around you.
The "water tanks" are a series of large potholes. Some are small; others are the size of a large swimming pool. It's illegal to swim or climb down into them, however. These pools help support local wildlife and are vital, so enjoy them from afar.
A small natural arch extends gracefully across one of the smaller tanks.
The trail is just 1.6 miles from the parking lot to the water tanks and back . You can extend your hike by continuing along the trail for another 1.5 miles if you wish.
Have you hiked the Capitol Gorge Trail? We’d love to hear about your adventure in the comments!
Learn more about Capitol Reef National Park on its
website, and check out this feature article about the people who lived in the area thousands of years ago.
To start your adventure, take the Capitol Gorge Road. To find it, head south on Scenic Drive from the Fruita Campground. The road forks and you’ll head left onto Capitol Gorge Road.
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