CATHEDRAL VALLEY. CAPITAL REEF, UTAH

April 04, 2016

Cathedral Valley. Capital Reef, Utah
Capital reef is a National Park that might not get as much attention as Bryce or Zion due to its location being in the middle part of Utah but that is no excuse for its absolutely stunning scenery and geological history.
Cathedral Valley. Capital Reef, Utah
There are some amazing canyoneering routes to be tackled including the famous Poe Canyon and Pandoras Box Canyon. There are some excellent non technical hikes that include our history from when settlers moved into and through Utah and hikes into the desert and canyons that have beautifully varnished walls and a more fiery color with shades of yellow to go with the red and orange.
Cathedral Valley. Capital Reef, Utah
One of the amazing aspects that stand out for capital reef is that there is so much diversification in the geology that you will find all kinds of amazing colors and naturally sculpted rock faces throughout the National Park.
Cathedral Valley. Capital Reef, Utah
One aspect that I noticed is how there are more yellow fiery looking varnished walls at Capital Reef than places like Zion, Arches, and canyonlands.  There are so many reasons to visit Capital Reef but I want to focus on one, more remote section of the Park which is to the north on a 56 mile dirt road which takes the passengers to Cathedral Valley.  
Cathedral Valley. Capital Reef, Utah
 Laura and I set out on the 56 mile dirt road starting from mile marker 90, which takes you right to a dirt road and to the crux of the off road excursion, the river ford!
Cathedral Valley. Capital Reef, Utah
The river was a bit high and according to the ranger station, 14 inches was what we had to cross in order to get to the other side.  Furthermore there was some sand that people had to go over once I got across so I backed up the Subaru Outback and stayed right where it was a bit shallower, than made the crossing over the sand and onto the road! nice. it was pretty straight forward and the water was pretty deep.  I do not recommend a sedan to cross where I crossed but the Subaru Outback had no issues.

Cathedral Valley. Capital Reef, Utah
Once we got over we went around some washes and semi bumpy graded road which had some rocks embedded into the road which was not too much of a hassle to get around. Eventually I cane to a basin and the road was smoother to go a bit faster to cover the 26 miles I had to make to get to the valley overlook.
Gypsum Sinkhole. Cathedral Valley. Capital Reef, Utah
Continuing on and the road went up a bentonite mound that reminded me of a mossy looking Neapolitan ice cream glob, awesome!!!
Gypsum Sinkhole. Cathedral Valley. Capital Reef, Utah
Stopping to take some photos for a moment and continued on down the backcountry dirt road viewing the remains of a seabeds floor while observing the cattle getting closer and closer to the road. I made a turn around a corner and there was a heard of cattle walking the road and drinking out of the left over water from the snowmelt. There was other water in the area but this "road water" must have been the best kind around because they would not move for nothing.
Laura at the campfire in Cathedral Valley. Capital Reef, Utah
Now we did not want to cause too much of a panic for the cattle and I also did not want to get into the sloggy sand piles riveted with waterholes on this portion of the road so I had to make sure that if I was going to proceed, I was not going to stop. I eventually proceed ahead, honking my horn while the cattle thankfully decided to get out of my way and I was able to continue down the road to the final stretch of the first half of this loop trail.
Cathedral Valley. Capital Reef, Utah
Making it up to the top of the overlook rim, the road becomes a bit more bumpy with large rocks, some of them sharp which can cause a 1000 dollar tow so be careful going through this area.
Cathedral Valley. Capital Reef, Utah
I was able to grab a bunch of photos before the sun went down which casted a beautiful hue the accentuated the color of the rock with brilliant orange monoliths darting out of the basin like sharp miniature mountains.  It was beautiful and a unique place that yet again Utah has to offer.
Selenite Crystal Glass Mountain, Cathedral Valley. Capital Reef, Utah
Once the sun set over the ridge the road continued on to another interesting geological feature tucked away under a monolith in a side trail, a gypsum sinkhole!!

Selenite Crystal Glass Mountain, Cathedral Valley. Capital Reef, Utah
This sinkhole was a 200ft sinkhole that ended with no passage to be seen. The solution in the gypsum must have evaporated creating a emptied out cavity thus the collapse of the rock above the cavity to fall and implode on itself creating this sinkhole.  I decided not to rap with due to the instability of the rock but it was really interesting to see.
Selenite Crystal Glass Mountain, Cathedral Valley. Capital Reef, Utah
The Sun set and the stars sparked the night sky with a ear ringing sound of silence which was a and pristine feel knowing that at one time the place I camped was the place that was at the bottom of an ocean at one time.
Selenite Crystal Glass Mountain, Cathedral Valley. Capital Reef, Utah
The following day, I kept driving down the road to visit the temples of the sun and moon as well as a extremely interesting feature called the glass mountain.  This mountain is a mound made of Selenite crystals which were the biggest selenite crystals I have ever seen.
 Selenite hill looking at cathedral valley, utah

 Furthermore, I have seen some selenite's in caves out east but not to the extent and size that these crystals were. I am absolutely amazed to see just how a mound of selenite crystal is just placed here right near the temple of the sun.  Maybe Aliens dropped of some of the crystals due to a heavy spaceship? 
Selenite Crystal Glass Mountain, Cathedral Valley. Capital Reef, Utah

Entrada sandstone that is topped of with a cream colored deposit forming the Curtis Formation. A more greener iron potassium silicate composite in the Curtis is more abundant in the north here in the valley from the sea depositing the materials the works of wind and water eroding the deposits away creating what we se today as Cathedral Valley.


Temple of the Sun, Cathedral Valley. Capital Reef, Utah
This loop trail was really interesting and pretty easy to drive as long as you have a 2 wheel high clearance car.  So far this is the most interesting scenic drives we have done in Utah and with the remoteness of the overlook and the desert along with the natural eroded monolith features, crystals, and other geological features, this place is incredible both day and night.
Temple of the Moon, Cathedral Valley. Capital Reef, Utah
FLICKR: https://www.flickr.com/photos/exploration-worldwide/albums/72157666773347285

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