by Abby mcallister
It is hard for me to pick a favorite moment from this park (actually it has been hard to do that for each of these Utah parks!). Although I was at first turned off by the human history represented in the park (historic buildings, park, orchards, etc), I later came to love them. The hiking was fantastic-from the Grand Wash to Angel Arch we found fun things to see and explore. However, since we have set the goal of choosing just one moment, I think our “off trail” exploration of the slot canyons along the east side of the park along the seldom used Nottham-Bullfrog Rd is my favorite memory. I want to make sure up front that “favorite” isn’t confused with “easiest” or “least frustrating.” In fact, the opposite is true. Since we were searching for Headquarter canyon, one we had read about online but that wasn’t on the main maps we ended up wandering down a lot of dead-end animal trails.
We would see what we thought was maybe the opening of a slot canyon in the Waterpocket Fold and set off across the sage and sand flats, only to find 20 minutes later that it was a dead-end opening that only went 30 feet into the Waterpocket Fold, or that the mouth was blocked by an impassible pool of water (which still left us wondering if this was in fact the correct canyon or should we keep looking for it somewhere else?). After many false starts we decided to split up and cover more canyon openings in less time. At once my group encountered at trail that closely matched the descriptions online and we followed it to the canyon we had been seeking all afternoon. It was cool, in both temperature and interest factor but that canyon wasn’t the actually my favorite. What I loved was the feeling we had as we worked together as a family to find “clues” that we were in the right place. I loved seeing my kids come alive as the realized how different it felt to be on a “hunt” for something hard to find versus hiking along a well known and marked trail. We found animal tracks, animals themselves, rocks to climb, pools to attempt to cross, and a wilderness that many visitors to national parks never find. We were explorers, problem-solvers, adventurers and pioneers. On this afternoon our kids truly understood what the early settlers experienced as they searched for a way through the huge uprising of the Waterpocket fold, something the informational video in the visitor center addresses but fails to strike home like doing it yourself does. While we all like to visit the national parks to see the famous sites, I find that my best memories are formed around time spent together, often when things don’t go smoothly or as planned. It is being together in those moments that we will all remember for many years to come.
by tavin mcallister
Capitol reef was an interesting park. I liked the hikes just fine, but those weren't my favorite activity. What I liked was the creativity, the building and the pie. Yes I said pie. At capitol reef at the campground we were at there was a little shop that sold pie. And boy, was it good! After we finished off our pie, my older brother, Kaden had an Idea. He had been gathering rocks all day and we decided to go up a trail close to the campgrounds, and make a sundial. It actually worked! So if you go to capitol reef, make sure to eat pie and try and spot our sun dial! These were my favorite memories because when you build something it is cool to think back and say I wonder what happened to that little sun dial we made, and then you start thinking about the pie, then the hikes, and it all comes back and you can remember the fun you had.
We, Harley and Abby, are the parents of 4 boys whom we regularly drag into any and every national park we come near to. We love our parks and know that the only chance we have of keeping and maintaining this priceless resource is to give our children a love of them too.