Capitol Reef National Park

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Another lesser-known National Park, Capitol Reef is a collection of dramatically colored canyons in south-eastern Utah.  It is named after a particular section of canyon where Navajo sandstone domes resemble the tops of capitol buildings, and the sheer cliffs form an impassable barrier often known as a “reef”.

We began our adventure by visiting historic Gifford Farmhouse, where we purchased a variety of jams for the sandwiches we like to eat during lunchtime hikes.  We then drove up a pair of canyons, marveling at the different textures and extremely high walls.  More than 100 years ago, Mormon pioneers made their way through the deep canyons, and left their names chiseled into the stone there.  A few of them settled into the nearby valley carved by the Fremont river, and created an oasis of fruit-trees that still survive today, and provide a lush green contrast to the surrounding red rock walls.  Some of those walls still bear the settlers names, as well as Anasazi petroglyphs from those that came before.
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It was while driving to the oasis that we finally saw our first true bluebird (not all blue birds are bluebirds, of course), and managed to get a photo of him craning his neck:
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After a surprisingly squirrel-free lunch in the oasis’s park, we hiked 2 miles to a natural landbridge high in a neighboring canyon.  Along the way we saw a few friendly lizards and interesting stone formations, before returning to the Fremont river where we cooled our heels and Lisa stubbed her toe.
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As we were leaving the park, we encountered a large number of deer nibbling grass in an orchard of fruit trees:
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