PLEASANT CREEK & SOUTH DRAW

PLEASANT CREEK & SOUTH DRAW

54 inside and 34 outside when we woke up. A high of 64 degrees was forecast. Yes! Cooler weather. It wasn’t that hot in Monument Valley, but I am ready for the real Fall. We stayed put in the morning, as Gene had some work to do, but soon he was ready for adventure. I had looked at the map and really wanted to give Gene an overview of the Waterpocket Fold, the major geologic feature of Capitol Reef National Park.

For over one hundred miles, the earth’s crust was pushed up on the west side and dropped down on the east, causing a huge bend or wrinkle in the layers of rock. Resulting erosion wore away the layers at that line of stress and folding, leaving a line of cliffs broken by streams in only a few spots. To get the whole picture, we would drive down the Scenic Drive in the park, and then keep going on a four-wheel-drive route that went further south, out of the park to the west, and up onto Boulder Mountain. Gene also wanted to look at Highway 12 before driving it, so we might tack that on to the end.

PLEASANT CREEK & SOUTH DRAW

Back in the old days, Pleasant Creek had been a homestead farm and eventually was turned into a guest ranch by Lurt and Alice Knee in the 1940s. They offered jeep tours, horseback rides, and wonderful meals and lodging in the ranch house perched on the knoll at the entrance to Pleasant Creek’s passage through the high cliffs of the Waterpocket Fold. The scenery there was sublime and perfect for their purposes. The guest ranch business ran until 1973 or ’74, my first year working at Capitol Reef National Park. The Knees still lived there, and my first husband Lee and I got to know them. After my season ended in ’75, they asked the two of us to stay at the ranch into the fall while they traveled. It was a magical few months, feeding the horses and keeping an eye on the Sleeping Rainbow Ranch.
The dirt road south from the Scenic Drive took us past the gate to the road that leads up to the ranch house, which was deeded to the park when Lurt died in the 1980s. The house and grounds have become a field station for Utah Valley University out of Orem, Utah. In the canyon below is what is left of the horse corrals and stalls. I took a few photos, remembering how it was, and I felt sad to see how it is all weathering and slowly going back to nature. But that is the way of it.

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