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Learning in Capitol Reef

Learning in Capitol Reef

Posted in: Education, Historical places on June 20, 2023.

Knowledge is Power

Capitol Reef is not just a fantastic place to see the beauty of Southern Utah, it’s also a fantastic place to learn a lot of new things! Throughout the year, there are ranger-lead programs that can teach you about everything from geology to astronomy. So let’s look at what is on offer, and how you can sneak a little learning into your vacation.

Petroglyphs carved into the rock walls of Capitol Reef

Photo by iStockPhoto.com

Current Ranger Programs

So here’s the lineup for 2023! Visit this calendar page on the Capitol Reef website to see all the details about each of these events. And remember these are totally free, and you don’t need any kind of reservation. Just be at the right place when they start!

We’ve got Archeology Talks! Every day at 11am. Meet at the Petroglyph Panel boardwalk and learn about cultures that called this place home. The program lasts for 30 minutes

Geology Talks are presented every day at 3pm. Meet at the Fruita Campground Amphitheater, near the C loop of the campground and the Fremont River Trail. (It’s not difficult to find, it’s the largest structure in the campgrounds.) Discover the geologic story of Capitol Reef National Park. The program lasts for 30 minutes.

This one is our favorite! Evening Talks are available every evening at 8:45pm. Meet at the Fruita Campground Amphitheater. (Same place as above.) And explore a variety of topics in depth. Lasts about 45 – 60 minutes.

The Astronomy Program is presented every weekend on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Meet at the Gifford House picnic tables at 10pm. The presentation lasts about an hour (sometimes a little longer). Tour the night sky with the naked eye before exploring the cosmos by telescope. Bring a red flashlight.

It’s worth double-checking with the Visitor Center if these events are still scheduled for when you are planning on being in Capitol Reef. Sometimes there are unforeseen events – like severe weather, or an absent ranger – that cause the talks or programs to be cancelled. So check here, and just call the day of to confirm. Here’s the Visitor Center’s number: 435–425–3791

The Capitol Reef Visitor Center

Photo by iStockPhoto.com

More Ways to Learn

Speaking of the Visitors Center, there a couple of great additional ways you can learn about Capitol Reef and all its complexities. And first is at the Visitor Center! The whole Visitor Center has recently been renovated, and the exhibits have been updated and expanded. This is a great way to get an overview of the history and timeline of Capitol Reef, from the eons of time in which it was formed, to the native inhabitants, to the recent events that lead to its inception as a national park. You can even grab the NPS Audio Description Tours mobile app and have all the exhibits narrated to you! So be sure to stop by the Visitor Center!

Second is the Ripple Rock Nature Center. This building is located just a minute or two south of the Visitor Center, and is used to host outdoor activities for kids of all ages. The programs are usually hosted by Utah Valley University and are a great way for your children to discover a range of topics. Check the calendar for schedules (and filter by “Children’s Programs”) to see what is available when you are visiting.

Last one! Stop by the Gifford House! It’s a very cute, little, pioneer home that has been remarkably well preserved. It functions as a sort of museum/baked-goods shop today, and it’s a great way to see how the Mormon settlers of the region lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There are original and era-appropriate furnishings inside and lots of information about the Giffords. So check it out! And don’t forget to by some ice-cream while you’re there!

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