Elsewhere Wednesday: Capitol Reef National Park, Utah (10 June 2011)

Capitol Reef National Park
Wayne county, Utah (10 June 2011).
Day 11 of the 2011 Roadtrip from Alaska to Florida (Mile 4444 of 7221).

In the summer of 2011, my family and I moved back from Alaska to the American southeast. Four years in Alaska proved to be enough for my family, it seems, and we decided to head back down to more-consistent sunshine, less snow, and slightly less elevation. As for the move itself, we shipped the bare essentials and irreplaceables. As for everything else? Buh-bye. It was an awesome, icy, “garage” sale in Anchorage, Alaska. When it came time to actually make the move, my wife and daughter flew down to Florida. I, on the other hand, drove from Anchorage to Florida — across the continent, hiking and camping along the way. It was, to put it bluntly, one hell of a roadtrip.

Featured here are images from Capitol Reef National Park in southern Utah. I hit Capitol Reef on Day 11 of my roadtrip from Alaska to Florida — about 4,444 miles after departing Anchorage (though, I should note, I actually cruised north to Fairbanks before eventually turning east and southward).

Southern Utah is one hell of a region. I seriously don’t know how anybody gets anything productive done while living there. Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Zion National Park… They’re all right there, right next to each other, waiting to suck you in like the desert does the rain. I’ve never seen a region so packed with incredible scenery and mind-boggling beauty. Honestly.

In the images below, you can see dark sandstones and the lighter outcrops of the Navajo sandstone “caps.” In fact, much of this region is defined and shaped by the Waterpocket Fold, a 65 million year old geologic ripple, so to speak, revealing a geologic history encompassing much of the Age of Dinosaurs, more formally known as the Mesozoic. More specifically, most of these images were photographed in the Cohab Canyon area of Capitol Reef.

The river you see is the Fremont River; the roadway traces and weaves parallel along the winding valley-like swath of the Fremont and Cohab Canyon. Pull over damn near anywhere, and you’ve got incredible sandstone formations, brilliant flora, and the Fremont staring right back at you. I could’ve easily spent an entire week in this area alone (and don’t get me started with Canyonlands, Arches, and Bryce Canyon…).

I am from head to toe a Florida swamprat, but I must admit I connected with Southern Utah (and Northern Arizona) in a way I simply did not anticipate. I spent several days (more than originally planned) in that region, bouncing my way across the state from east to west before eventually heading back south and east again. I simply didn’t want it to end. Southern Utah was so tremendously gorgeous — and this is what I felt after leaving the epic majesty of Alaska, a region known for its own gargantuan beauty.

In future Elsewhere Wednesdays, we’ll explore much more of this remarkable roadtrip from Alaska to Florida, and we’ll certainly see much more of southern Utah.

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