Capitol Reef National Park is a small but wonderfully interesting place in between Canyonlands and Bryce Canyon. The slightly misleading nautical name comes from the white dome shaped rocks (that look like the domes of capitol buildings) and the reef, or Waterpocket Fold—a rocky spine extending from Thousand Lake Mountain to Lake Powell.

What makes the park particularly interesting is how the National Park Service has worked to preserve the Fruita historic district to remain like it was when Mormon settlers first came to the area in 1880s. Which meant that we enjoyed some delicious old-fashioned handmade ice cream, pie, and sweet rolls made from the preserved orchards.

In addition to hiking seemingly forgotten slot canyons, learning about ancient petroglyphs, our time there was especially memorable because we met a family with four kids all within a year or two of our own. Connecting with them was such a gift as the kids (and parents) instantly took to each other, sharing toys, stories of hiking adventures, and laughs all around.

With kids in camp, it meant afternoon playtimes, a fun potluck dinner, breakfast together at the local bakery and friends gathered around the fire for s’mores. And finally, some sweet goodbyes that made Wonderland RV Park (which we highly recommend) all the more memorable for us.

Next stop: Bryce Canyon National Park!

P.S. Papa, your granddaughter is now obsessed with the “pay phone game” you taught her.

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