Capital Reef National Park lies 10 mi (6 km) East
of town of Torrey in Utah, United States. With an area of nearly
979 km2, the park is famous for its geological formations composed
of colored rocks that are tens of millions of years old. The park is
made up of high and semi-arid areas, several natural arches, and is
characterized by a large monoclinal fold of the earth's crust
partially exposed by erosion. The name Capitol Reef comes from the
monumental form of some rocks from an ancient coral reef present
there several million years ago, when the area was covered by a sea.
The natural environment is essentially characterized by numerous
animal and plant species that can withstand a semi-arid climate.
Nevertheless, wetter areas near rivers and at higher altitudes are
also colonized by species more adapted to these environments.
The surrounding areas of Capital Reef National Park were
inhabited by Amerindian peoples of the Fremont culture between the
seventh and seventeenth centuries, and by Amerindians Païutes and
Utes who survived by hunting and gathering. Early European explorers
arrived in southern Utah at the end of the eighteenth century and
the first settlers, Mormons, settled there after 1875.
December 18, 1971, Capitol Reef becomes a national park. National
Park Service staff members have since been tasked with protecting
geological, natural and cultural wealth while welcoming and
educating the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit the park
The closest town to Capitol Reef is Torrey, about
11 mi (18 km) west of the visitor center on Highway 24, slightly
west of its intersection with Highway 12. Torrey has a population of
less than 200, with a few motels and restaurants. Highway 12, as
well as a partially unpaved scenic backway named the Burr Trail,
provide access from the west through the Grand Staircase-Escalante
National Monument and the town of Boulder.
The park has one
developed campground that requires reservations from March to
October, and two primitive free camping areas. Backcountry camping
elsewhere in the park requires a free permit available at the
Activities in the park include hiking,
horseback riding, and driving tours. Mountain biking is prohibited
on park trails but allowed on roadways.
The orchards planted
by Mormon pioneers are maintained by the National Park Service. From
early March to mid-October, various fruit—cherries, apricots,
peaches, pears, or apples—can be harvested by visitors for a small