Happy Birthday – National Park Service!!

In honor of the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, I’ll be posting several images through the year to illustrate how lucky we are to have these very special places. Oftentimes when shooting in our Parks, I have had conversations with photographers who reside outside the U.S. No matter what their political opinion of the U.S. may be, they all agree, the National Park System was one of the best ideas.
To kick off this tribute to the NPS, I recently added an image  from Capitol Reef, I call Before the Temples. Certainly not as well known, this Park has an incredible variety of things to see. As demonstrated by this image, the massive monoliths or temples are something to behold. One certainly feels like they are in the presence of something great. These temples are primarily located in a much more remote part of the Park, called Cathedral Valley. Although under dry conditions it can be driven by some passenger cars, it is best to have a higher clearance vehicle. If it is wet, one better have a very capable 4 or all wheel drive vehicle! Trust me on that.
Besides the monoliths, the geology is quite varied. Dome, cliffs, arches, folds, canyons are just some of what one can expect. Many of these features can be easily viewed by overlooks and other roads made for passenger cars.
Eventually this year, I’ll repost one of the better Milky Way images I’ve had the pleasure to take. Being so far from civilization, the Park has some of the best night skies you will see in North America.
The Park also features a rich history dating back to when the Fremont and ancestral Puebloan people inhabited the area. In fact, the Park has pictographs (painted on rock surfaces) and petroglyphs (carved or pecked into the rock surface) scattered throughout, many which are easy to view.
In how many Parks have you seen fruit orchards? Yes, indeed, early settlers planted the orchards as a cash crop and for subsistence.
About ten families lived in Fruita throughout the early years. Today, the orchards are preserved and protected as part of the Fruita Rural Historic Landscape listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The orchards contain approximately 3,100 trees including cherry, apricot, peach, pear, apple, plum, mulberry, almond, and walnut. The National Park Service now maintains the orchards year round with historic cultural irrigation practices, pruning, mowing, pest management, planting, mapping, and grafting. And what does the Park Service do with all this fruit? Well, visitors can pick them! A self-pay station with scales, plastic bags, and signs listing fruit prices is located near the entrance of orchards open for fruit harvest. They even provide ladders and fruit picking equipment. How cool is that!
For those who like developed campgrounds, near the visitors center and surrounded by orchards, is one nice place to stay.
Well, I could go on and on, but you get the “picture”, Capitol Reef National Park is outstanding!