Sunday, May 4, 2014

Cool rock formations, opportunity to pick fruit await Capitol Reef National Park hikers

Children enjoy peaches picked from historic orchards at Capital Reef
National Park. Photo courtesy Capital Reef NPS.
Among the best ways to enjoy Capitol Reef National Park’s major sights is via a day hike. Three short trails will allow you to experience each of the park’s highlights – the famous Capitol Dome, fruit picking, and the Golden Throne formation.

Capitol Dome
Sitting amid the geological wonder of the Waterpocket Fold, the white domes and cliffs look like the U.S. Capitol building. At 2-miles round trip, the Hickman Bridge Trail offers great views of the dome as well as other intriguing rock formations near the Fremont River.

Fruit picking
The Park Service maintains more than 3,100 trees – including cherry, apricot, peach, pear and apple – in orchards planted decades ago by Mormon pioneers. For a small fee, park visitors can pick the fruit when in season. While there’s no designated trail, the Historic Fruita Orchards Walk takes you through the fruit trees located alongside Sulphur Creek east of the Utah Hwy. 24 and Camp Ground Road/Scenic Drive junction.

The Golden Throne
A carbonate dome has stained the rock below it yellow, making this large rock formation stand out in a terrain known for its white sandstone summits. The 4-mile round trip Golden Throne Trail climbs 730 feet from a gorge bottom to a cliff top offering an impressive view of the Golden Throne.

Learn about other great national park day hiking trails in my Best Sights to See at America’s National Parks guidebook.