Capitol Reef National Park
All Photographs © Brian & Nancy Morganti
Capitol Reef National Park
Notom-Bullfrog Loop Drive
October 9, 2017
The Notom-Bullfrog loop drive can be driven in about 4 hours, but for most it will take an entire day including photo stops along with a hike or two. We started our early morning drive heading south on Notom Road in order to take advantage of the early morning sun illuminating the eastern flank of the Waterpocket Fold. Two of the highlights along the way for us were a hike into the Headquarters Slot Canyon, and a rugged 4x4 drive and hike to spectacular views from the Strike Valley Overlook.
Rock Spire Hoodoos: Entrada Sandstone spires found along Notom Road near mile marker 17.6. These were formed from wind blown sand dunes deposited along the shoreline of an ancient sea
Layered Sandstone:. This "Summerville Formation", a finely layered rock with many narrow bands of mudstone, siltstone, sandstone, and gypsum is exposed at mile marker 28.1 along the Notom Road.
Oyster Shell Reef: A low ridge of rock that runs parallel to the road is actually an outcropping of Dakota Sandstone, a 95-million year old marine delta with large clusters of well-preserved oyster shell fossils.
Notom Road - Banded Hills: About 39 miles south of Highway 24 Notom Road passes through layers of 150-million year old multi-colored hills of soft claystone and volcanic ash.
East Face - Waterpocket Fold: The steep eastern face of the Waterpocket fold is revealed at mile marker 39.8. Here the red, angular exposures of the Carmel Sandstone contrast with the tall, white Navajo Sandstone slopes which is best revealed in morning light.
East Face Waterpocket Fold - A Closer View: Here is another view of the eastern face of the Waterpocket Fold that reveals both a deep canyon as well as the effects of erosion carving out large sections of the sandstone.
Notom Road Break: Nancy enjoying the scenery just off Notom Road amid some colorful yellow sandstone rock outcroppings.
Headquarters Canyon - Hike Begins: Headquarters Slot Canyon is located about 2 miles south of the Burr Trail Junction and Notom Road. A one-mile walk across the brushy flats takes you towards the canyon, which is made evident by the colorful red stripes of sandstone leading into east face of the Waterpocket Fold and the canyon.
Headquarters Canyon - Entrance: An inviting view of the trail that leads into the slot canyon.
Headquarters Canyon - Colorful Stripes: A closer view of the beautiful red sandstone layers leading the way into the slot canyon.
Headquarters Canyon - Slot Begins: Nancy stops for a quick picture just before entering the narrowest part of the slot.
Headquarters Canyon - The Narrows: A view looking into the narrowest part of the slot...we measured about 14" wide at shoulder level which required removal of backpacks and scrambling sideways at one point. Beautiful in the mid-day light!
Headquarters Canyon - Cool and Colorful: A wonderful view of the colorful and diverse layers of rock as we made our way through the narrows.
Headquarters Canyon - Emerging from the Slot: This view greeted us as we came out of the slot into a wider part of the canyon.
Headquarters Canyon - Out of the Narrows: A less claustrophobic view of the canyon as it cuts deeper into the Waterpocket Fold.
Headquarters Canyon - Re-Entering the Slot: One last view as we worked out way back out of the slot canyon, amazing colors and patterns that changed every few feet!
Strike Valley - South View: A spectacular view that was worth the effort to get there! A strike valley is a geological feature where a valley runs parallel to the strike of underlying rocks in the region. From the overlook, you can easily see the almost 100-mile valley and cliffs on each side that make up the valley. (The Waterpocket Fold to the west---right in this image, and the rugged cliffs to the east that make up the badlands.
Strike Valley - North View: The view looking north into the valley is equally impressive, here the Waterpocket Fold (which runs the length of Capitol Reef) is on the left (west) and the badlands can be see to the right (east).
Strike Valley - Southeast View: One more view looking into the south part of the valley, but this time a little more easterly to show a little more of the badlands escarpment and start of the Henry Mountains.
Gorilla Rocks - Burr Trail: While not actually a named featured, we were fascinated the way the late day sun and shadows gave these rock outcroppings the appearance to a row of carved Gorilla Heads looking out over the valley.
Burr Trail Road: A view of Burr Trail Road heading west as it cuts through towering cliffs on each side.
Burr Trail Road - Overlook: At mile marker 68.7 Burr Trail Road climbs very steeply out of the canyon and soon offers views up the length of Long Canyon.