The San Rafael reef is part of the Colorado Plateau that was "pushed" up and tried to force its way over the underlying tectonic plate. You can see in this picture, the way the rock "folded" as it pushed up and over.
These viewing areas contain good parking, restrooms, and signs that explain what you are looking at. There were 5 of these view stops within about a 20 mile area and we stopped at all but one to learn about the sites we were seeing as we drove.
In these canyons, outlaw gangs like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid hid out from the law. You can go for miles into these canyons and back then they were unmapped, so the Sheriff rarely tried to follow.
This monument at one of the view stops shows that the outlaws still come through this area. Trooper Dennis "Dee" Lund was killed in this area on June 16, 1993. You can read his story at http://publicsafety.utah.gov/highwaypatrol/history_2000/dee_lund.html. If you read to the end of the story, you'll see that his wife and 8 year old son were at home listening to the police radio scanner and heard the call come in. She was a volunteer EMT and was dispatched to the scene where she got the bad news. Truly a sad story. My thinking is that once a criminal opens up on law enforcement with a weapon, they should respond with immediate and devastating lethal force and blow them apart. This sad story never need have happened.
Another section of the road shows off canyons that remind me a bit of the Grand Canyon, though on a much smaller scale.
We arrived in Richfield about 2:30 or so. Even though it was only 179 miles, we made so many view stops for pictures and lunch and all, that it took 5 hours. Later in the day, Carol found some good hiking boots at the local WalMart and of course, we had to go back later so I could get a pair too. Tomorrow we will try them out in Capitol Reef NP. Then on Tuesday, we head for home.