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Introducing Capitol Reef National Park

Native Americans once called this colorful landscape of tilted buttes, jumbled rocks and sedimentary canyons the Land of the Sleeping Rainbow. The park's centerpiece is Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile-long monocline (a buckle in the Earth's crust) that blocked explorers' westward migration as a reef blocks a ship's passage. Known also for its enormous domes – one of which kinda sorta resembles Washington DC's Capitol Dome – Capitol Reef harbors fantastic hiking trails, rugged 4WD roads and 1000-year-old Fremont petroglyph panels. At the park's heart grow the shady orchards of Fruita, a Mormon settlement dating back to the 1870s.

The narrow park runs north–south following the Waterpocket Fold. A little over 100 miles southwest of Green River, Hwy 24 traverses the park. Capitol Reef's central region is the Fruita Historic District. To the far north lies Cathedral Valley, the least-visited section; toward the south you can cross over into Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument on the Burr Trail Rd. Most services, including food, gas and medical aid, are in the town of Torrey, 11 miles west.