what is the waterpocket fold

What is the Waterpocket Fold?

by | Aug 30, 2023

Each of Utah’s Mighty 5 national parks is home to some unique rock formations. Bryce Canyon National Park is home to the world’s largest collection of hoodoos, rock spires that appear like precariously stacked rocks. Zion is known for its towering red rock peaks. Arches National Park has its namesake stone arches, which create natural windows on the park’s stunning landscapes.

Capitol Reef National Park is no exception. Here, you’ll find the Waterpocket Fold. This natural phenomenon is responsible for creating the park’s unique landscape. The Fold is home to many of the park’s incredible hiking trails and helps create the park’s many different ecosystems. But what is the Waterpocket Fold?

If you’re planning a stay in one of the best hotels Fruita, Utah has to offer, keep reading. We’re breaking down what the Waterpocket Fold is, how it was created, and how to enjoy it during your stay at Chuckwagon Lodge.

What is the Waterpocket Fold?

If you were to fly above Capitol Reef National Park in a plane on your way to your Torrey accommodations, you’d likely notice the line that appears to stretch straight across the park. This is the Waterpocket Fold. It rises sharply from the Earth’s surface, creating the park’s towering peaks, plateaus, and cliffs.

But what is the Waterpocket Fold? The technical term for it is a monocline. A monocline is a type of geological structure that is characterized by a single, steeply inclined layer of rock that occurs in otherwise horizontal sedimentary layers. 

The Waterpocket Fold is a little like a wrinkle in the surface of the Earth, surrounded by flat desert.

How Did the Waterpocket Fold Form?

To understand how the Waterpocket Fold was formed, you first need to dive into what was occurring in the area millions of years ago. Around 65 million years ago, in the Late Cretaceous period, the area was covered in a vast inland sea, also called the Western Interior Seaway. This sea covered much of modern-day North America.

Layers of sediment, including sand, silt, and mud, accumulated on the floor of this sea over millions of years. As they settled, they became compressed. Over time (millions of years), these layers solidified into sedimentary rock layers, including mainly sandstone and shale.

Then, around 50 million years ago, tectonic forces deep within the Earth’s core began to exert pressure on the continent. This resulted in the Colorado Plateau rising up across what is today Utah. The rising plateau created cracks and fractures in the underlying layers of rock. One of these massive faults was the Capitol Reef Fault. 

When this fault occurred, rock layers around it began to bend and buckle, and the massive monocline that we now know as the Waterpocket Fold began.

Pockets of water were created in the layers of sandstone. Over millions of years of these pockets freezing and thawing, and being weathered by wind and water, have torn away at the softer sedimentary layers. This has created the tilted rock strata of the Waterpocket Fold. Today, you can easily see the many different layers of the fold, with different shades of red, orange, yellow, and white revealing the many different types of stone and sediment.

Exploring the Waterpocket Fold

You can view the impact of the Waterpocket Fold from much of Capitol Reef National Park. But there are a few places that are better for experiencing this unique formation. 

The Waterpocket Fold is largely located in the Southern section of Capitol Reef. This area of the park is more rugged and remote than the rest of the park. As long as the roadways aren’t wet, most passenger vehicles will have no trouble navigating the roadways in this section of the park.

One of the best ways to experience the Fold and this section of the park is with the Loop-the-Fold Driving Tour. This incredible 124-mile loop takes between four and six hours to drive. It will take you past some of Capitol Reef’s most incredible views and is a must-do if you have time during your stay in the best hotels Fruita, Utah has to offer.

Booking a Stay at the Best Hotels Fruita, Utah Has to Offer

The Waterpocket Fold is largely responsible for the incredible landscapes that make Capitol Reef National Park so popular. Whether you’re taking a hike, enjoying a scenic drive, or simply enjoying the view from hotels in Torrey, Utah, this incredible piece of ancient history makes for some stunning scenes.

Ready to experience the Waterpocket Fold for yourself? Chuckwagon Lodge is the perfect base camp for your stay. Located in Torrey, Utah, our hotel is less than five miles from the entrance to Capitol Reef. This makes it easy to maximize your time in the park.

Our Torrey accommodations offer several room types to choose from, as well as an on-site deli and store great for stocking up on snacks and gear for your trip. Book your stay at Chuckwagon Lodge today!

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