We headed down the scenic drive with the cruise control set at 35 so we could take our time. The sky was a mixed bag with storms in the distance. The earlier showers had saturated the landscape and this really brought out the rainbow of colors in the rock. We’ve never seen Capitol Reef look finer. We took our time and lots of pictures as we meandered down to the parking area at the closed gate into Capitol Gorge. We stopped for a few minutes, and Sharon scanned for Desert Bighorn while I snapped photos.
As you leave the parking lot, there’s a little dirt road that goes off to the left called Pleasant Creek Road. We were hungry and decided to drive down the dirt road to find a quiet spot to have our lunch. Pleasant Creek Road was indeed pleasant as it dipped up and down through washes for a couple of miles. We found a spot that had a nice view looking north back the way we’d come. We broke out the sandwiches from Austin’s and cracked open a couple of cold IPA’s. As we enjoyed our lunch in the warm sun, we heard a babbling noise. We walked across the road and looked down to see what we assumed to be Pleasant Creek gurgling along.
We finished lunch, took a few pictures and pondered whether to continue on Pleasant Creek Road but, after consulting the gazetteer, decided against it since it turned into a long 4WD road and our rental SUV didn’t have low range. We piled back into the Jeep and headed back the way we came.
At the first dip where the road crossed the wash, lo and behold, there was 4-5” of water flowing across the bottom! We’d been through here not a half hour ago and it’d been dry. The babbling creek we’d heard must’ve been this same drainage and this was a little bitty flash flood. The storms of a couple of hours ago must have rained upstream from here and the water was just now getting here. We drove through it easily but I didn’t dally. The sudden appearance of flowing water is always cause for concern and we were again reminded that “Desert Canyons Don’t Care”. A few minutes from now, Pleasant Creek might very well be quite unpleasant, and I wanted to be well away. The rest of the crossings were dry and shortly, across one last dip, we arrived at the paved road by the parking area. We headed on back toward the entrance of the park never knowing whether the little flood ever grew or just soaked away into the soil unnoticed.
At Fruita, we stopped at the old Mormon homestead museum. It was a wonderful collection that makes it easy to imagine the trials of trying to thrive in such a remote area. But what a setting! The area still benefits from the orchards they had the foresight to plant. There was a small gift area and they were selling ice cream made by Café Diablo. While we bought some, another couple asked the young woman minding the shop about Café Diablo and she highly recommended it. We chimed in and asked her where else was good since we were open for suggestions, especially from a local. The Rim Rock Restaurant across from the Best Western she thought was almost as good as Café Diablo. Good to know.
We went outside into the yard and enjoyed our ice cream and the spectacular setting.
Leaving there, we passed the VC again and decided the light would be good on the petroglyphs by the boardwalk. We pulled in and were just starting down the trail when a NPS truck pulled in and it was Ranger Cyndi again. She was about to do a talk on the petroglyphs. Good timing! Sitting on the bench with several other folks, we enjoyed an informative twenty minutes.