Capitol Reef National Park Flash Flooding Leaves Visitors Stranded, Six Rescued

by Jon D. B.

2022’s monsoon season brought a roaring flash flood through Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park, leading to the rescue of six visitors.

Intense thunderstorms on Thursday, June 23 led to raging waters, causing a flash flood in the Utah national park. Packed with visitors, Capitol Reef immediately entered search and rescue mode to save stranded individuals.

According to the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, “Park rangers were on scene getting people out of the wash. While doing so, some of the park rangers got stranded in the flood but were able to get to high ground.”

Wayne County Sheriff Dan Jensen would then respond to the park. After contacting Wayne County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Commander Rustin Grundy to assist, NPS officials began rescue operations alongside.

Six people had to be air lifted from their vehicles amidst raging flood waters. DPS helicopters then flew rescues to parking lot areas. In total, over 60 people wound up stranded in the parking lots off the scenic route.

“DPS helicopter was able to make contact with people that were stranded there,” the sheriff’s office continues. “They were able to hoist them out and brought them to a parking area. There were approximately 60 people in that parking lot that almost had to spend the night, however the park rangers worked diligently to clear the roads, making them passible.”

Capitol Reef National Park rangers found lodging in surrounding motels for visitors. Rangers then began shuttling people out of the parking area to the surrounding motels.

Thankfully, “The only injuries reported were minor cuts and lacerations,” officials report.

Capitol Reef National Park Flash Flood Causes Intense Rapids

“There are approximately 7-8 vehicles in the flood areas,” the report continues. Utah officials will work to get out “conditions permitting.”

Not only would the flash flood strand visitors and destroy vehicles, it would also turn waterways into raging rapids:

“Heavy rainfall caused flash flooding in Capitol Reef National Park earlier today. Here is a video of an intense waterfall [from] the downpour,” Weather Nation captions shocking footage form the park.

As park rangers continue to assess damage, Yellowstone National Park officials are doing the same. Historic flooding ripped through America’s first national park this past week, causing catastrophic damage. And if it seems like “freak” weather events are on the rise in our national parks, that’s because they are.

“These aren’t my words, but I have heard this is a ‘thousand year event,’ whatever that means these days, as they seem to be happening more and more frequently,” Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly told reporters, including Outsider, during the park’s press conference.

“We need the right people assessing whether it makes sense to build here again in the future,” Sholly continued. With climate change making extreme weather far more frequent, other national parks, like Capitol Reef, may also take similar stances.