Monsoon season loves the Southwest. Summertime sees plenty of days and weeks on end of the sudden, severe storms that drench the high desert areas with an abundance of rainfall that truly must be experienced to be fully believed and understood.
It’s been rainy here in the Capitol Reef area for several weeks now, with a brief reprieve of about, oh, two days. Rain means good water table levels, full water tanks, wildflowers off the hook, and life in the desert. We like rain here, love it. It’s vital to this ecosystem, and the wild life it brings forth is spectacular.
The rain during monsoon season can also mean waterfalls where moments before none existed, sweet little creeks turned suddenly turbulent and muddy to a degree that truly frightens, and an awesome show of the strength of water.
When you contrast that natural power display with the relative frailty of the human body, it’s the sort of awesome that sends shivers racing down the spine. As I often say, don’t mess with mama nature, because it’ll mess right back with you.
Today was one of those days. Early in the day the sky loomed ominous, dark, and hugely full of clouds full of sturm und drang.
Great day to check out the Fremont Falls in Capitol Reef National Park. The falls have been popular with locals for decades, as well as visitors. I’ve swum in them, under them, and jumped off the rocks into them. (Yes, I know, bad. But I always made someone else go first so that if they didn’t come back up, I knew not to jump! Heh.) They can be a lot of fun. But when it rains…ooh, yeah. Those falls get crazy.
The Fremont Falls, using words from a press release today from Capitol Reef:
The waterfall located near mile marker 86 on State Highway 24 in Capitol Reef National Park was created in 1962 when the river was rerouted to accommodate the construction of Highway 24. This water feature has historically been an attractive site to swimmers and recreationists. The dynamics of the waterfall have changed over the years, and the river has cut a narrow channel in the soft sandstone. This has increased the velocity of the river and created a hazardous water filled slot above, and a dangerous plunge pool beneath, the falls.
Very recently, Capitol Reef closed the waterfall to the public. Why? Because three people nearly drowned there in the past three weeks. All of them were held under the water for at least a few minutes and were pulled out not breathing and with no pulse. All three were life-flighted to hospitals up north. All three, by some insane miracle, survived with no lasting physical damage.
So I reiterate again my plea to southern Utah visitors during monsoon season: Be careful. Play, and play carefully. Don’t underestimate the power of the land and water. Enjoy, and use your common sense.
And for your viewing pleasure, check out the photos of the power of monsoon season in southern Utah canyon country.