Called "Wayne Wonderland" in the 1920s by local boosters Ephraim
P. Pectol and Joseph S. Hickman, Capitol Reef National Park comprises 378 square miles (979 square kilometers) of colorful canyons, ridges, buttes, and monoliths. About 75 miles (121 km) of the long up-thrust called the Waterpocket Fold
, extending like a rugged spine from Thousand Lake Plateau southward to Lake Powell, is preserved within the park boundary. Capitol Reef is the name of an especially rugged and spectacular part of the Waterpocket Fold near the Fremont River
On August 2, 1937, in Proclamation 2246, President Roosevelt
set aside 37,711 acres of the Capitol Reef area, making it a National Monument. This comprised an area extending about two miles north of present Utah
Hwy 24 and about ten miles south, just past Capitol Gorge
. More highly protective federal regulations now applied in "Wayne Wonderland".
Visitation climbed dramatically after the paved, all-weather road was built through the Fremont River canyon near Fruita and the old Capitol Gorge road closed. 146,598 persons visited the park in 1967. The staff was also growing.
In September 1970, Department of Interior officials recommended in a house subcommittee session that 254,000 acres be set aside as a national park. They also recommended a ten-year grazing phase-out period, rather than a 25-year period. They did not favor the adjunct recreation area concept.
Did You Know?
The Fremont River corridor sports the feathery branches and pink flowers of the tamarisk, an exotic introduced from the Mediterranean in the 1930s. It was brought to the southwest as a river bank stabilizer and is now nearly impossible to control and eliminate, despite on-going eradication efforts.