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Dates of visit:
Sept. 30, 2006 -
Oct. 18, 2006

We rate this trip a:

Trip Highlights:
 Scenic byways
 Ghost towns
 Mountain vistas
 Hiking
 Autumn colors
 Small towns
 National Parks
 National Monuments
 Las Vegas
 

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*** Utah ***
*** Capital Reef National Park ***
*** Staircase / Escalante National Monument ***
*** Anasazi & Kodachrome State Parks ***
*** Georgetown & Widtsoe Junction Ghost Towns ***
        Travel Route
        Capital Reef National Park
        Site Gallery - Capital Reef National Park
        Scenic Byway 12 & Staircase / Escalante National Monument
        Anasazi (Coombs) Ruins State Park
        Georgetown Ghost Town
        Site Gallery - Georgetown Ghost Town
        Kodachrome Basin State Park
        Site Gallery - Kodachrome Basin State Park
        Widtsoe Junction Ghost Town
        Site Gallery - Widtsoe Junction Ghost Town
Capital Reef National Park

Capital Reef National Park ** Location of Capital Reef NP **

Capital Reef ... The Waterpocket Fold is a straight, 100 mile long ridge of tilted and layered rock stretching from the Fishlake Mountains in central Utah to Lake Powell in the south. Most is preserved in Capitol Reef National Park, which contains multicolored cliffs, narrow canyons, ridges, arches, spires and domes. The monument is so named because of the resemblance of the many whitish sandstone domes to the US Capitol building; the 'Reef' refers to the high uplifted ridge running north-south along the fold which presented a considerable barrier to early settlers. The park, the second largest in the state, is much less visited than others in south Utah, partly due to the rather remote location and perhaps because there is no obvious central attraction.

Geology ... The Waterpocket Fold is a classic monocline: a regional fold with one very steep side in an area of otherwise nearly horizontal layers. A monocline is a "step-up" in the rock layers. The rock layers on the west side of the Waterpocket Fold have been lifted more than 7000 feet higher than the layers on the east. Major folds are almost always associated with underlying faults.

The Waterpocket Fold formed between 50 and 70 million years ago when a major mountain building event in western North America, the Laramide Orogeny, reactivated an ancient buried fault. When the fault moved, the overlying rock layers were draped above the fault and formed a monocline. More recent uplift of the entire Colorado Plateau and the resulting erosion has exposed this fold at the surface only within the last 15 to 20 million years. The name Waterpocket Fold reflects this ongoing erosion of the rock layers. "Waterpockets" are basins that form in many of the sandstone layers as they are eroded by water. These basins are common throughout the fold, thus giving it the name "Waterpocket Fold". Erosion of the tilted rock layers continues today forming colorful cliffs, massive domes, soaring spires, stark monoliths, twisting canyons, and graceful arches.

Fruita ... visitors to Capitol Reef National park are often curious about the fruit trees that lie within a mile or two of the Visitor Center. These trees - apple, pear, peach, cherry, apricot, mulberry, even Potowatomee Plum - are the most obvious reminder of the pioneer community that once prospered in the narrow valley of the Fremont River.

Settlement came late to south-central Utah; the Capitol Reef area wasn't charted by credible explorers until 1872. In the last half of that decade, Latter Day Saints (Mormon) settlers moved into the high plateau lands west of Capitol Reef and established communities based on short-season farming and grazing. They then looked to the east, along the corridor of water snaking through the soaring cliffs and domes of the Waterpocket Fold - the Fremont River. The origin of the little community at the junction of the Fremont River and Sulphur Creek is obscure. The first "resident" may have been an 1879 squatter by the name of Franklin Young, but the first landholder of record was Niels Johnson. Other soon followed, and the community that sprang up became known as "Junction". The orchards of the residents prospered and before the turn of the century Junction was know as "the Eden of Wayne County". In 1902, the name of the little settlement was changed to "Fruita". The settlement never incorporated. The population averaged about 10 families.

The orchards - all owned by the National Park Service - are maintained at a level of about 2,500 trees with 1,800 in production. A small crew is kept busy year-round with pruning, irrigation, replanting, and spraying. As each fruit crop comes into season, the fruit is made available to the public on a pick-your-own basis. The park Superintendent sets the per pound or bushel price after checking local commercial orchard prices. Although he may take the isolation of Fruita into consideration in setting prices, he is not permitted to undercut private enterprise. Management of the orchards, especially during picking season, presents some difficult problems to resolve. Because the trees were planted in smallish family orchards originally - each with a wide variety of fruit - fruit ripens in many "mini-orchards" at varying times. It is very difficult for park rangers to "open" orchards for picking in small "penny packets" and still exercise the control needed to protect the trees from damage and pickers from unsafe acts.

Source: Tourist site brochure, US Government Printing Office


Video recorded: September 2006
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Video recorded: September 2006
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Site Gallery - Capital Reef National Park
 
Capital Reef National Park Capital Reef National Park Capital Reef National Park
Capital Reef National Park Capital Reef National Park Capital Reef National Park
Capital Reef National Park Capital Reef National Park Capital Reef National Park
Capital Reef National Park Capital Reef National Park Capital Reef National Park
Capital Reef National Park Capital Reef National Park Capital Reef National Park

Scenic Byway 12 & Staircase / Escalante National Monument

Utah's Scenic Byway 12 ... been designated a National Scenic Byway and an All-American Road by the Federal Highway Administration. All-American Roads have one-of-a-kind features so exceptional that they qualify as a destination "unto themselves." Only a few byways achieve the status of an All-American Road, making Scenic Byway 12 one of the most unique roads in the United States.

Spanning a route of more than 124 miles, Scenic Byway 12 travels through some of the most diverse and ruggedly beautiful landscapes in the country. It winds past slick rock canyons, red rock cliffs, pine and aspen forests, alpine mountains, national parks, state parks, a national monument, and quaint rural towns. Numerous pullouts located along the route provide opportunities to photograph, watch wildlife, or relax and enjoy the scenery.

Spectacular views along Scenic Byway 12 include Powell Point and geologic formations like The Blues. Prehistoric stone storage structures called granaries can also be seen along the route. Travelers pass through Bryce Canyon National Park (a short drive of Hwy. 12), the communities of Tropic, Cannonville, Henrieville and Escalante. Kodachrome Basin State Park and Grosvenor Arch in Grand Staircase-Escalante-National Monument are short drives from Scenic Byway 12.

Staircase / Escalante National Monument


Video recorded: September 2006
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Anasazi (Coombs) Ruins State Park

Anasazi State ParkCoombs Site Ruins and Museum ..WHO WERE THE ANASAZI? During the 15th and 16th centuries, the Navajo arrived in what is now the southwestern United States. Anasazi is a Navajo word interpreted to mean ancient enemies, enemy ancestors or ancient ones referring to the people who inhabited the area before them. Ancestors of their foe, the modern Pueblo Indians, inhabited the area prior to the Navajo. What the Anasazi called themselves, however, probably never will be known. More recently, some archaeologists adopted the term Ancestral Pueblo, which suggests common ties with modern Pueblos. Although Ancestral Pueblo is probably more accurate, archaeologists have used the term Anasazi for many decades, and it now is generally accepted. It refers to village-dwelling farmers who existed in the southern Colorado Plateau in the Four Corners region of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and southern Nevada between about A.D. 1 and 1300.

Coombs Site Excavation ... Major excavations at the Coombs Site were undertaken by the University of Utah in 1958 and 1959. Small-scale excavations occurred in 1927 by the Peabody Museum and again by state parks staff between 1970 and 1991. Excavations uncovered 97 rooms, 10 pit structures and hundreds of thousands of artifacts. Although major structures have been identified, only about half the site has been investigated. Outlines of unexcavated rooms can be glimpsed across the site. Future excavations would undoubtedly modify some interpretations of the site.

Where did they come from? Inhabitants of this site maintained cultural ties with the Kayenta Anasazi region of northeastern Arizona. However, trade items from Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, western Utah and Arizona imply contact with many different people. Tree ring dates indicate that timbers used in structures were cut between A. D. 1129 and 1169, suggesting the site was in use during the middle of the 12th century.

For more information: Utah State Parks
Source: Tourist site brochure, State of Utah

Georgetown Ghost Town

Georgetown Ghost Town ** Location of Georgetown Ghost Town **

Georgetown ... a small village of about 100 people; it, like nearby Cannonville, was named for a locally prominent LDS (Mormon Latter Day Saints) official. It had a store, school, and a post office; it became a ghost town in the late 1940s. There is a small (abandoned) cabin nearby, the last building of Georgetown.

For more information: http://ghosttowns.com


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Site Gallery - Georgetown Ghost Town
 

Georgetown Ghost Town Georgetown Ghost Town Georgetown Ghost Town
Kodachrome Basin State Park

Kodachrome Basin ** Location of Kodachrome State Park **

Kodachrome Basin ... a spectacle of towering sandstone chimneys, changing in color and shadow with the day's mood - from red-tinged spires against a blue sky, to soft evening light settling over the desert. This color and contrast prompted the National Geographic Society in 1949, with consent from Kodak Film Corp., to name the park Kodachrome.

Nearly 70 monolithic spires, sedimentary sand pipes ranging from six to 170 feet in height, jut up from the valley floor or protrude from the sandstone. These natural rock towers stand as sentries of the park and campground and inspire an infinite array of subject only limited to one's imagination. The slick rock and semi-desert climate make this state park attractive to visitors all year.

Source: Tourist site brochure, State of Utah


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Site Gallery - Kodachrome Basin State Park
 
Kodachrome Basin Kodachrome Basin Kodachrome Basin
Kodachrome Basin Kodachrome Basin Kodachrome Basin

Widtsoe Junction Ghost Town

Widtsoe Junction ** Location of Widtsoe Ghost Town **

Widtsoe Junction ... settled by Mormons in the late 19th century; first had the name Adair after the most prominent family; as the settlement grew, the name was changed to Houston, and then in 1910, it was changed again to Winder--all of these were the names of prominent Mormons. In 1915, another settlement grew up about four miles north of Winder, by the name of Henderson (another prominent Mormon of the area); it got a post office, and grew for short period of time.

However, by 1924, the post office in Henderson closed and most of the population moved to Winder. Then, in 1917, post office decided on its own for another name change (because there were too many 'Winder's: the new name was Widstoe, yet another prominent local LDS official. Population in 1920 census was 365. But the climatic and water problems of the valley were too much for that many people, and they began to move away. By 1935 the population was around 20; in 1936, the federal government bought the town -- land, buildings, etc. At that point many of the buildings were torn down, but as of 1998, there were still around 3-5 houses.

The history ... the town reached it's heyday in the early 1920's. By 1934, only 40 families remained in Widtsoe. By that spring, the residents' plight was critical. Two residents wrote a petition, which over 40 residents signed, requesting federal aid. Officials from the federal Resettlement Administration (RA) determined that the people should be moved out of the sub-marginal area since the land could no longer support them. The residents held a town meeting and, on February 8, 1935, voted, with no coercion by the officials, to accept the government's offer of resettlement.

The government purchased 30,000 acres from the residents and resettled 29 families to other tracts throughout the state. They spent a total of $81,300 (not including "operating costs") on the Widtsoe Project, which was used as a model of resettlement for the Western States. The project received national recognition. The final families to leave Widtsoe with federal assistance left in March 1938. The name of Widtsoe was taken off highway signs and maps. The Widtsoe Cemetery is still in use with the most recent additions being infant twins buried in 1999. One third of the town site is privately owned another third is owned by the State of Utah, School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, the final third (including all streets and the city park) is owned by the federal government.

For more information: http://ghosttowns.com


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Site Gallery - Widtsoe Junction Ghost Town
 

Widtsoe Junction Widtsoe Junction Widtsoe Junction

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