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Popular Swimming Area At Capitol Reef National Park Closed Due To Dangerous Conditions


Capitol Reef officials have closed the Fremont Falls area to swimming due to the dangerous conditions created by this year's tumultuous runoff. Julie Trevelyan photo.

A popular swimming hole in Capitol Reef National Park has been closed for the rest of the summer due to torrential runoff that has created extremely dangerous conditions for swimmers.

Fremont Falls, located about six miles east of the park's visitor center on Highway 24, has witnessed three-near fatalities already this summer, according to park officials. As a result, several area agencies, as well as the Capitol Reef superintendent and the Wayne County (Utah) sheriff, have deemed the falls and their pool too great of a risk to public safety to remain open to swimming.

Created in 1962 by diverting the Fremont River from its natural bed, the original Fremont Falls stretched out approximately 100 feet wide as a thin skiff of water flowing over an underlying sandstone rock formation.

But after decades of erosion caused by natural water action, the Fremont Falls of today channels rapidly through a markedly narrower crevice. As with many waterfalls, the sections immediately above and below the fall itself pose serious threats to swimmers due to the strength of the water's pull.

Three recent near drownings -- on June 20 and July 15 -- prompted the official closure of the falls. Two of the victims were children, and one an adult who jumped in to save one of the children. None of three was breathing, nor did they have a pulse, upon being removed from the water. They were flown to hospitals in northern Utah and, somehow, all three survived with no apparent lasting effects.

“While we certainly want to provide an enjoyable visitor experience in the park, our highest responsibility is to ensure a safe visitor experience," says Capitol Reef Superintendent Al Hendricks. "The three recent near-drownings make it clear that there are serious, life-threatening conditions present at the waterfall for even strong swimmers.”

The extended closure will be lifted when the weather is too cold for swimming. Looking down the road, park officials are looking to reroute the river back to its original streambed next year.


Dear Lady Ranger I have in my hands a letter from the Park it says that there has not been a broken bone at the waterfall since 7/19/2007 case #07/0062 broken ankle.  The Park records only have on record 7 broken boons at the waterfall since 1996-2011. So I think you can do your work and not worry about the waterfall.  Not one of the people that broke a bone sued the Park so you can sleep better.  It was not hard to get this information I just wrote a letter and I got it, so I'm sure you could???  If you need help just call Me 435-456-9153.

Thanks, Local Resident.  Some facts are refreshing here.

Maybe your father and grandfather planted the flower because it was an endangered native species. If they planted something that wasn't native in a National Monument then they were breaking laws.
Here is more info on that orchid from the FWS:
Ute ladies'-tresses is found in three separate geographic areas of the interior western United States.

The second area is along the Colorado River drainage in eastern Utah. Populations are found along: Green River, Daggett County; Dinosaur National Monument's Cub Creek drainage, Uintah County; Uinta and Whiterocks Rivers, Duchesne and Uintah Counties; Duchesne River, Duchesne County; Fremont River in Capitol Reef National Park, Wayne County; Deer Creek, Garfield County. 

Less than 6,000 individual plants of Ute ladies'-tresses are known (as of 1992) in the 10 remaining populations. The Boulder County population is the largest of the known populations. In 1986 this site contained 5,500 plants.

Modifications to and losses of riparian habitat have adversely affected Ute ladies'-tresses
, especially along the Wasatch Mountain foothills in Utah. These areas have been affected by urbanization, stream channelization, and construction projects in and adjacent to the Jordan and Weber Rivers and their tributaries, and in wetlands and wet meadows adjacent to Utah Lake and the Great Salt Lake.

All riparian plant species are vulnerable to alterations in stream flow and water table levels.

Recovery of Ute ladies'-tresses will depend on the protection and restoration of the riparian habitats inhabited by this plant.

has a 6th Generation Wayne County Resident... I would like to know where you got your info on the Orchid being native to the Oxbow???  Please reply with info on this.  My Grandfather, Uncle, and Father were all working for the Capitol Reef National Monument when they PLANTED that flower.  If the water flowing down the  Fremont in Contaminated were it is currently located it will be contaminated flowing around the Oxbow.  So the comment there makes no sense at all..  Roma is not the ONLY one that cares about the closing of the Waterfall or the HUGE UN-NEEDED Tax dollars wanting to be spent to put in the bridges to re-route the river.   They just re-black topped the area of HWY 24 that they now want to replace with the Multi Million Dollar Bridges. Really???? Can you say WASTE???   This as become a "ONLY WATERFALL ISSUE" and it is not!!! It's a US TAX DOLLARE ISSUE.  Leave the things ALONE!!!  NO MORE TAX DOLLARS need to be spent!!!  Closing of the Waterfall does not need to be done!!  The waterfall is now back open.  The signage in appropriate and now people can enjoy this beautiful area of the park...  It take 1 person to get the word out to the multitude that may not know or understand what is happening right under there noses.  Thank You Roma for making the County and surrounding Counties that could be next on the list of Un Needed Gov. Spending.... We will now all take our voices and use them to get our points across.  If WE THE PEOPLE DON'T stand up for what we Believe in.. WHO WILL???  The GOV. will walk right over us and use our tax dollars however they see fit without any notice to those it is affecting.  Thank You again Roma... More Power to you and to EVERYONE else out there that has a VOICE and the ability say what you feel and stand up for your Rights as a Citizen of this Country!!!!

I didn't see Capitol Reef or any place in Southern Utah mentioned on your link about your orchid????
Here is a link to the orchid that the park is trying to save by routing the river back through the ox-bow. It is indeed native, no matter what Taralyn thinks, and is listed a a threatened species. It has not been seen for 15-20 years due to the Fremont river being rerouted. According to the FWS, the Northern Leopard Frog numbers seem to be declining, and that is another species lost in Capitol Reef due to the loss of the ox-bow. Returning the river back to its original state (even though it is heavily polluted) is the reason why the park wants it to flow back through the ox-bow. That is what the NPS is all about. But the waterfall was closed and will remain closed during the summer months due to the dangers. The park really didn't want to wait until someone died (and wasn't revived) to take action. The loss of even one life would be too much. 

Let me see if I have this figured out? The Park doesn't care about the waterfall.  They just want to spend millions of tax dollars to put in 2 bridges so they can put the river back in the only place in the river that man hasn't changed.  However the river hasn't been there for 50 years???
The people that Roma has talked to don't want to spend millions.  They just want to have the waterfall so they can have fun?  Is that about it!!!

I know Torrey is no bustling metropolis, but there has got to be more to do in the summer than swim in this contaminated waterfall.
Are most locals fired up about this or just this one person?

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