|The Sandstone rocks|
Now the reef looms up next to the road and reveals a stunning cliff face of color. Thanks to the frequent turn-outs I am able to stop and take pictures without driving into the soft sand on the side of the road.
|This image clearly shows the edge of the riff where the reef pushes up.|
It is a good idea to stop at the ranger station. I like to check out all the info and picking up a map and another tee shirt to add to my collection. Stopping gives me time to gather my thoughts and get a sense of where I am on the trip.
|Clearly marked strata shows off the ages.|
|Here we can see the scale and breadth of Capitol Reef's stunning beauty.|
I see on the map of the park that just up the road on the left side are some petrographic drawings on the rock face. This is my first stop. The carved drawings were done by the Fremont Indians who lived here around A.D. 700. They lasted about 600 years and then abandoned the area, possibly due to a long drought.
I could not help but noticing that in the past this rock wall must have been unprotected and many visitors had climbed the wall to carve their names into it, some even marked over the ancient drawings. (What could they have been thinking to mess up such an ancient artifact?)
|View walking up the Hickman Trail|
|The Hickman Bridge Arch|
It was still early in the day when I got back to the car and more wonders await me up the road I was headed now for the scenic back country road that lead to Cathedral Valley and the Alter of the Sun and the Alter of Moon. Leaving the paved road for the back country, I am grateful for my Suburu all wheel drive. The road is dirt and rock and filled with ups and downs as I drive over huge boulders to get to the far outback area that is little visited by travelers.
|The desert floor is untouched by human footprints.|
|Rolling rounded smooth mounds of incredible beauty.|
I am approaching Cathedral Valley as I drive through rolling rounded smooth mounds of incredible beauty.