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Posts Tagged ‘Capitol Reef National Park’

Happy 45th Anniversary Capitol Reef National Park!

“National parks are America’s largest classrooms.”–National Park Service

A visit to a national park, actual or virtual, is a valuable learning experience. The state of Utah offers abundant learning opportunities as home to five national parks: Arches, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef. This week marks the 45th anniversary of Capitol Reef being established as a national park. On Aug. 2, 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Capitol Reef a national monument. President Richard M. Nixon signed legislation establishing Capitol Reef as a national park on Dec. 18, 1971. I would like to commemorate Capitol Reef’s anniversary by sharing some interesting facts about this beautiful park.

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park
(Credit: Michelle Brault)

Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden treasure located in south-central Utah. Capitol Reef received its name because early settlers observed that the white domes of Navajo Sandstone resembled the dome of the U.S. Capitol building. Prospectors in the area called Waterpocket Fold, a ridge in the earth’s crust, a reef because it was a difficult barrier to transportation. The park encompasses 241,904 acres. It is the state’s newest and least-visited national park, attracting almost 750,000 visitors every year.

I recently got to explore this often overlooked park, and I can tell you that if you take the time to visit this wondrous place, you won’t be disappointed. The park contains colorful canyons, red sandstone cliffs, ancient Fremont petroglyphs, diverse wildlife, the historic Fruita orchards, and amazing geological features. Capitol Reef National Park is defined by the Waterpocket Fold. The classic monocline extends for nearly 100 miles. The majestic park’s prominent landmarks include Cassidy Arch, Chimney Rock, Hickman Bridge, Temple of the Sun, Temple of the Moon, and my personal favorite, the Castle.

The Castle in Capitol Reef National Park

The Castle in Capitol Reef National Park
(Credit: Michelle Brault)

I was impressed by Capitol Reef’s geologic features, but I was equally impressed with the park’s unique history. People have lived in the area of Capitol Reef for thousands of years. The earliest inhabitants of the Capitol Reef area were archaic hunters and gatherers, the Fremont people, and Mormon pioneers who settled in the area that is now known as the Fruita Rural Historic District.

As much as I enjoyed learning about the park’s history and seeing the spectacular scenery, because I am an animal lover, the highlight of my visit was spotting mule deer. Capitol Reef is home to 71 mammal species, 239 bird species, 15 reptiles, 13 native fish species, and 5 amphibians.

I am so grateful that 45 years ago, Capitol Reef was reclassified as a national park. Since there are so many gorgeous destinations to visit in Utah, I have a feeling that if Capitol Reef had remained a monument, there is a chance I would have missed out on this remarkable place.

Take your students on a virtual field trip to Capitol Reef National Park! Explore these resources available in ProQuest eLibrary and SIRS Issues Researcher:

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park Research Topic

Utah Forests and Parks Research Topic