Leaving the Grand Staircase area we enter a new type of landscape. The land starts off fairly flat with lots of sand and short desert plants, but then in the distance is a ridge that soars upwards and cuts through the desert for miles.
Capitol Reef National Park got it’s name from the geological formations that can be found here. Capitol is from the sandstone features that resemble capitol building domes and Reef for the rock walls that created a barrier for travelers.
Geologists know these rock formations are apart of the Waterpocket Fold. Some 50 million years ago an old fault line was reactivated and tectonic forces started moving the earth’s crust. With this formation, only land on the West side of the fault line was pushed up while the East side remained in place. The rocks on the West side were lifted 7,000 feet in the air. Then with several million more years of erosion many of the colorful layers of sandstone and rock have been exposed.
The park is 60 miles long, but averages 6 miles wide.