Capitol Reef National Park, Utah – Muddy River’s dreadful trade

Instead of the off-road trail from yesterday, we try to get to hwy # 24 to Capitol Reef National Park on Country Road # 1012, a so-called major connector. It connects to Factory Butte Road as well. That should be passable, shouldn’t it? Pavement changes to gravel, but the road is freshly graded. We drive and drive. The road gets worse and narrower. More and more often brooks washed away the track. At some point a diagonal crack in the road becomes too wide to cross it. Joerg carries huge stones to fill the holes and to build a bridge. The road even gets worse and narrower, and tire tracks show that vehicles turned round here. From the information boards at the roadside all maps have been removed, but there is no additional information. We continue. But then, the road just doesn’t exist anymore. We try it in two different places. At the first one higher on the mountain, there is only a dozens of metres high brim left, the track leads into the abyss. A bit lower it seems that the track partially crossed the Muddy River, partially followed the wash. But there is a river now anyway, and it seems to be sufficiently deep. A kind fellow put some stones in front of this shallower brim to detract other drivers from falling into the river. Muddy River simply beamed the road into nirvana. Turning round is scheduled.

We begin a long, long way back, but the detour we have to take now to get to Capitol Reef NP is even longer. The rangers there don’t know anything about the disaster at Muddy River. But we learn that there were heavy thunderstorms with flash floods later than usual in September and October. So the water couldn’t evaporate and the trails couldn’t be redone. Their famous off-road trail to Cathedral Valley is impassable since then. It’s already late, so we use the remaining daylight to follow the scenic drive, passing monoliths, canyons, and coloured walls. They look like a LSD-animated artist painted the yellow and red, beige and brown, white and grey, turquoise and purple, orange and black stripes and eddies.

The Fruita Campground in the park has got a problem with the restrooms. They put chemical toilets there, for this they do without the otherwise usual 10 $ camping fee. We are the only guests here. The historic Mormon village Fruita from the late 19th century is situated around the campground. Some buildings like school, blacksmith, and a farmhouse were restored. The orchards are still tended. Between June and October you can pick fruits for free (to eat) or inexpensively (to take away).

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