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Capitol Reef National Park Facts You Didn’t Know

Apr 10, 2023 | Capitol Reef National Park, Cougar Ridge Lodge, National Parks, Our Blog | 0 comments

Planning a stay in our Capitol Reef resort in 2023? The summer season at Cougar Ridge is still a few months away. But now is a great time to start planning which hiking trails you’ll take, which scenic drives you want to see, and how you’ll spend your downtime at the best Capitol Reef resort Utah has to offer.

One great way to get ready for your visit is to learn more about this unique national park. Keep reading as we dive into a few Capitol Reef National Park facts you might not know.

1. It Almost Wasn’t Named Capitol Reef

Long before it became Utah’s fourth national park, Capitol Reef had a different name. 

Around 1914, two local men took it upon themselves to start an initiative to protect the natural beauty of the area. Ephraim Pectol, a local entrepreneur, and his brother-in-law, Joseph Hickman, the principal of Wayne High School, started sharing pictures of Hickman Natural Bridge. The bridge had previously been named in Joseph’s honor. The pair hoped to protect the natural bridge and the area around it. They also wanted to attract tourists to the region to bolster the local economy.

When Joseph and Ephraim shared these photographs, they referred to the area around the bridge as Wayne’s Wonderland. This was the name that would be used in the coming decades as the brother-in-laws and then later supporters worked to protect what is now Capitol Reef. The current name didn’t come into use until 1935. Two years later, the land became Capitol Reef National Monument.

3. The Road to Becoming Federally Protected Wasn’t Easy

The story of how Zion became a national park is relatively quick. Paintings of the park were showcased at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. After that, it only took until 1909 for the area to be named Mukuntuweap National Monument. It became Zion National Monument less than a decade later and received national park status in 1919.

The road to creating Capitol Reef National Park was a little more complicated. When Ephraim Pectol and Joseph Hickman first started spreading photos of the Hickman Bridge in 1914, they were hoping to create a new state park in the area. The push for a state park continued through the mid-1920s. In 1925, then governor of Utah George Dern visited Wayne County and expressed hope that Wayne Wonderland would soon become a state park. After the unexpected passing of Joseph Hickman, the campaign lost some steam. 

It wasn’t until 1931 that supporters got back to promoting the creation of a park. This time, the National Park Service was consulted. National Park Service officials and Utah State legislature representatives continued pushing for the protection of the area. Finally, in 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created Capitol Reef National Monument. It would take 34 more years for it to become Capitol Reef National Park.

3. Not All Roads in the Park are Paved

One of the best things about exploring a national park is the chance to experience some of our country’s incredible landscapes as they exist without human interaction. In many national parks, you can spot wildlife and plant life in their natural habitats as you won’t find them anywhere else.

National parks are designed to preserve natural habitats. However, many popular national parks have become more developed to keep up with rising crowd numbers. Capitol Reef’s more remote location means that it has been spared the effects of overdevelopment. In fact, you can still cruise dirt roads as early settlers in the region once did. Of course, these dirt roads are much better maintained than they once were!

Take a cruise on the Scenic Drive, and be sure to enjoy some of the many dirt spur roads located off of it, like Grand Wash. Burr Trail Road is another popular graded dirt road that follows the west boundary of Capitol Reef.

4. You Can Enjoy Homemade Pies at the Gifford House

If you know anything about Capitol Reef National Park facts, you know about Fruita. One of Capitol Reef National Park’s most popular and unique attractions is fruit picking in the historic Fruita Orchards. But while you might already have a trip planned to pick apples or peaches in the park during your stay at our Capitol Reef resort, don’t forget to stop in the Gifford House, too.

The Gifford Homestead is an original home built in 1908. Today, it is a store and historical living history display. In addition to reproduction utensils, handmade items like soaps, woven rugs, and candles, and souvenirs like books, you can also purchase homemade pies made with locally grown fruits. Stop by the homestead during your time in the park to pick up a pie to enjoy during your stay at the best Capitol Reef resort Utah has to offer.

5. It’s Home to a Diverse Range of Wildlife

Don’t let the desert landscape fool you; Capitol Reef is home to a wide array of wildlife. This is often one of the most surprising national park facts that visitors learn because a lot of the wildlife is either well-camouflaged in the landscape, nocturnal, or naturally shy around humans and therefore tough to spot. But if you’re lucky, you can spot antelope, rock squirrels, prairie dogs, bighorn sheep, and more in the park. 

Whether in the park or exploring other outdoor attractions near our Capitol Reef resort, make sure to maintain a safe distance from any wildlife that you do see. If you want to get up close and personal with some animals, though, you’re in luck. Cougar Ridge has some resident farm animals that you can say hello to instead!

Learning a Few National Park Facts Before Your Visit

Learning a few Capitol Reef National Park facts is a great way to get ready for your visit to Cougar Ridge. From the long history of the park to the unique attractions and wide array of wildlife, there’s always something new to learn about this unique national park.

Ready to start planning your 2023 visit to our Capitol Reef resort? Now is a great time to book your summer stay at Cougar Ridge. Right now, when you book a visit of three or more nights before June 15, you’ll get a 25 percent discount on your stay. Book today to take advantage of these savings.

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