Our first stop at Capitol Reef was a retired uranium mine.
The sign reads:
The Price of a Promise
The think yellow-gray rock before you tempted the nation with promises. This is the Shinarump Member of the Chinle Formation, a layer of ancient, river-deposited, sandstone containing trace amounts of uranium.
Lured by the promise of health and profits, early prospectors began searching here for uranium in 1904. Originally, uranium was thought to have valuable medicinal properties against rheumatism and other ailments. Radioactive ore from these mines was packed into pouches and worn around the neck, or crushed and mixed into water and consumed as a “health tonic”.
Uranium offered the promise of protecting the nation. Exploration and milling of uranium was encouraged by the US Atomic Energy Commission in the 1950s during the Cold War. Prospectors flocked to the Colorado Plateau. Even protected National Park Service lands were opened to mining. Despite strong opposition from park managers, companies were allowed to build roads, dig mines, and construct camps in previously undisturbed lands. Ultimately, little uranium was found here, little profit was made, and the promise of health and protection grew silent.
There was a price for these pursuits. Capitol Reef’s boundary expansion in 1971 included new parklands with numerous old mine sites. Dangerous mine shafts, hazardous materials, and destruction of preserved lands are scars that will last far into the future. Was the price worth it?
A little unnerving. A good reminder that maybe allowing these types of atrocities to occur on these pristine lands isn’t such a great idea.
We decided to drive to the Cassidy Arch Trail.
Here are some of the sights along the way:
We made it to the trail. It was the toughest hike we’d been on at this time. The trail can be lost and we ended up in an area that we did not feel was safe. Another couple ran into the same trouble. We got back to the trail and continued on.
The views along the way are beautiful.
At one point, a mountain goat came to a screeching halt on the trail. I was worried it was going to ram Mikayla off of the cliff, but just as quickly as it stopped, it took off and jumped up on a large rock next to the trail.
I was unable to get any great photos, but you can catch a glimpse of the goat here:
Once we caught our breath and our heart rates went back to normal, we continued on. We finally saw the Cassidy Arch.
If you look close, you can see people on top of the arch. We did not go all the way to the arch. We knew our time was running short and we wanted to do at least one more trail before sunset. After doing a little research, I’m afraid we made a big mistake. The views from the other side of Cassidy Arch are amazing. We will go back someday.
When we got back down to the trail in the valley, we came across some Bighorn Sheep.
So we drove over to the Grand Wash Trail.
We found the Petroglyphs:
According to Utah.com, the Petroglyphs date back to AD 600 – 1300.
We came across the Pioneer Registry. The registry was created by a group of Mormon Church Pioneers.
Some of the names appear to have been shot into the side of the mountain.
Before we left the park, we drove over to the Tapestry Walls and the Egyptian Temple:
We drove through the canyon to take some more photos before heading back east.
This formation looked like the profile of a woman’s face.
When we neared the park entrance, we ran into some deer.
The deer were not skittish at all.
We took our final shots before we went east.
We had a great trip and are definitely planning on going back. Next time we would stay in one place and see as much as possible.
On the way back, we went to Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado and Dodge City, Kansas.
Here are some photos we took on the drive back home: