Your Guide To The Capitol Reef National Park

Tower and rock layers at Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park: General Summary

The Capitol Reef National Park, situated in South-central Utah, is a geological treasure. Stretched over 241, 900 acres of vast land, this place is a wonder that is full of amazing landforms, ranging from cliffs and canyons to domes and bridges. Extending up to 100 miles in this massive park is the Waterpocket fold that is a geologic monocline, also known as a wrinkle on earth.

There is an interesting explanation behind this park’s name. It was named for a specific colorful portion of the fold, where rounded Navajo sandstone forms domes that are capitol-like and sheer cliffs forma barrier for traveling, which is commonly referred to as a ‘reef.’ Now, there’s an adjoining highway that crosses the reef, but traveling through it is still very difficult.

Sandstone cliffs, perfectly-shaped white domes, tall canyons and gorgeous arches are a few prominent features of the Capitol Reef National Park. This park is gorgeously rugged and certain parts still remain unexplored. To explore all the amazing hiking trails, it can take a while. Additionally, the closest town to this Park is Torrey, Utah where most of the lodging is available.


Date of Inauguration

In 1933, Ephraim Pectol won the elections for the Utah legislature. He instantly reached out to President Roosevelt to ask him to create the "Wayne Wonderland National Monument" consisting of the many lands that the Capitol Reef comprised of. Many federal agencies were assigned to the task of evaluating the boundaries and taking out the feasibility of the specified area. Finally, on the 2nd of August 1973, President Roosevelt agreed to classify the Capitol Reef area to form the Capitol Reef National Monument. Around 37,000 acres of land of the Capitol reef area was set aside. After a few problems over the years, President Lyndon Johnson was pressured to put aside vast areas of public lands right before he abandoned his office. Therefore, in 1970, another 215,057 acres of land was handed over to the National Park Service. By 1970, the Capital Reef Monument turned into the Capitol Reef National Park—stretching southeast from Thousand Lake Mountain till the Colorado River.


The Visitor’s Center

Located in South-central Utah, Highway 24 passes through the middle of the Capitol Reef Park. It is the main access route. The visitor center for this massive and wonderful park is located just off the primary access route of highway 24. It is open throughout the year. It is the best place to initiate your journey. The visitor center offers all sorts of information and displays. It also has a museum the gives insights about many aspects of the park such as its geology, archaeology and even history. This information makes it easier for you to explore the entire park. It is suggested that visitors should stop by and visit the visitor’s centre so they’re aware of what they should expect from the park. Various maps and brochures are available for purchase too.


Introduction

The Capitol Reef National Park is situated in South-central Utah. Recognized as a national monument in 1937 and then re-introduced as a National Park in 1971, this area is a magnificent wonder. The Capitol Reef National Park is 100 miles long, which is about 160 km. It is long and fairly narrow. The park is located by the north-west edge of the Colorado Plateau. The Fishlake national forest is located on the Southwest border of the park, while the Dixie national forest is located in the south. With rocks and geological formations dating back a million years, this place is a must-see.

The area features a variety of landforms such as beautiful canyons, gorgeous ridges and even monoliths. The most prominent feature of this park is the Waterpocket fold. Stretching out from the Thousand Lake Mountain down to Lake Powell – the Waterpocket fold lies well-preserved within the park’s boundaries. The Waterpocket Fold is a monocline in the Earth’s crust. This monocline is a result of thick layers of sedimentary rock deposits that occurred over a period of over 200 million years. Some 70 million years ago, the uplift of the plateau formed this monocline or fold of the Earth’s crust.

This area was named the Capitol Reef due to its long rock ridges that were topped by pinnacles formed by barriers to keep people from travelling there. Its dome-shaped formations bear an uncanny resemblance to the monumental building of the US Capitol located in Washington D.C. Hence, the name Capitol Reef.

Over the years, the erosions that have taken place have transformed the entire area. They have resulted in various geological formations in the area such as pinnacles, arches, towers and even domes. Majority of these gorgeous geological formations are made of Navajo stone or Wingate Sandstone. The Freemont River, along with its various other tributaries, cross the geological formations right through the canyons.

Offering a variety of activities, including hiking and camping, the Capitol Reef National Park is perfect for a mini getaway. The picturesque drives and the orchards, coupled with the mesmerizing geological formations in the area, are just some reasons why you should visit this place.


A Brief History

The Fremont hunters and farmers were some of the earliest inhabitants of the Capitol Reef County. Back in 700 A.D. they settled down on the fertile lands, situated near lakes and streams. Although these Native American Indians bid farewell to the county back in 1250, they still left behind signs of their presence on rocks and various canyon walls. From the 1600s till the 1800s, the Capitol Reef area welcome new settlers referred to as the Paiute Indians. After they entered and settled here, the Capitol Reef area was officially explored. The exploration and documentation of this area officially commenced in 1872. Then in the 1920s, Ephraim Pectol partnered up with his brother-in-law Joseph S. Hickman to advertise and preserve this geological wonder. In 1926, around sixteen acres of the Fruita community were to be transformed into a state park. This area was further extended and classified as a monument by President Roosevelt in 1937. Finally, in 1971, this geologically spectacular area was reclassified as a park.


Geological Formations

The most picturesque area of the Waterpocket Fold is the Capitol Reef. The Capitol Reef area is very rich when it comes to geological and topographical factors. The landscape of this area is a consequence of 200 million years of geologic history. The Waterpocket Fold is regarded as a class monocline – it is a 100-mile long warp on the surface of the earth. A bend in the strata of rocks, which are otherwise horizontal, is referred to as a monocline. It has a regional fold and one steep side area— the remaining areas are horizontal. The Waterpocket fold is almost 50 to 70 million years old. Within the past 15 to 20 million years, the uplift of the whole Colorado Plateau, coupled with the erosion, has brought up this fold more evidently on to the surface. The name Waterpocket fold was given due to the continuously eroding layers of rock. Basins that develop in sandstone layers due to the erosion of water form ‘waterpockets.’ Multiple basins are present throughout the fold. Hence the name, Waterpocket Fold. Even today, the continuous erosion of these tilted rock layers form massive domes, colorful cliffs, twisting canyons and beautiful arches.

Located near the Fremont River, this area is just beautiful. This place gets its name from the wonderful geological formations there. The word Capitol is suggested for the white Navajo Sandstone domes. These domes are very familiar to the dome at the capitol building; hence, the word Capitol. The rocky cliff, which is basically coral reefs, forms the second half of the name— reefs.

Almost ten thousand feet of sedimentary rocks are present in this area. These sedimentary rocks range from the Permian to the Cretaceous period. The Permian period was270 million years ago, while the Cretaceous period was 80 million years ago. You will come across the older Permian rocks in the western area of the park and the younger cretaceous rocks near the eastern boundary.

The layer over layer sequenced sedimentary rocks date back to almost 200 million years of geological history. The various rock layers are evidence of ancient environments such as rivers (Chinle Formation), deserts (Navajo Sandstone) and shallow oceans (Mancos Shale). The slope of the Waterpocket fold fades away near the Thousand Lake Mountain, which is situated near the northwest area of the park. The various layers of rock in the Cathedral Valley are at least 3-5 degrees inclined. Extreme erosion has resulted in the monoliths, Entrada sandstones and temples at the Cathedral Valley. A few of the cathedrals are also covered by thin and hard beds of marine sandstone, which are referred to as the Curtis Formation.

The gorgeous Entrada temples at Cathedral valley are complemented by other geological features such as the flowing and dissolution of gypsum. Thin igneous rocks and tiny volcanic plugs such as dikes and sills can also be found in the Upper Cathedral Valley. These geological features are a result of volcanic activity that is almost 3 to 6 million years old. Significant canyon cutting took place between the past 6 million years. Hard sandstone such as the red Wingate and white Navajo sandstone form most of the cliffs in the area. Most of the slopes and low hills in the area are made of the Chinle Formation. Much of these hills remain barren due to their infertility. There are black boulders spread throughout the area near the Fremont River. These volcanic rocks are almost 20 to 30 million years old. These boulders arrived at the Capitol Reef during the ice age period.

The Capitol Reef was established due to the spectacular rock domes in addition to the narrow canyons found near the Waterpocket Fold. Much of the park’s boundaries were established to take in a majority of the fold. This is a place to witness the best sceneries formed through serious geological processes over the years. It encompasses a variety of features, ranging from the Thousand Lake Mountain to Fruita and even the Bentonite Hills.


Planning Your Itinerary


One Day Itinerary

If you have only a day at your disposal to view this magnificent geological wonder, then we have an itinerary planned for you. You’ll have to wake up early so you have an entire day to visit the most amazing parts of the Capitol Reef National Park. We suggest that you find lodging within the Fruita district if you’re staying there for a day. Here are the few places that you should visit.

  • Cassidy Arch Trail (am)
  • Scenic Drive down to Capitol Gorge
  • Hickman Bridge Trail
  • Scenic Drive Hwy 24

If you’re visiting the Capitol Reef National Park for a short drive, then we have just the right itinerary for you. If you’re heading to the Capitol Reef (for instance, you’re coming from Bryce Canyon), then you’ll be entering from the west side of the park. It’s best if you come in a four-wheel drive. You can drive towards Panorama point first. Then visit the Goosenecks Overlook and go up to Sunset Point.

If you’re at the Capitol Reef Park, then you have to visit Fruita. From Fruita, you can take a right onto the Scenic drive and spend a good couple of hours driving here. On this road, you’ll be presented with the option to go to the Grand Wash and Capitol Gorge spurs for hiking. Once you’re back on Highway 24, you can hike to Hickman Bridge to top off your day trip!

In a different scenario, if you enter the Capitol Reef from the east side, then you can start your trip from the Hickman Bridge and move on to the Panorama Point.


How Long to Stay at the Park

Well, that depends on the number of days you have at your disposal. The longer you plan on staying, the better. The endless hiking trails will take a while to explore completely. To cover a few hikes, you’ll need at least five to seven days. If you want to escape the hustle bustle of the city– this is the place to go! It will take at least three to four days to cover the basic hikes in the area.


When to Visit the Park

The Capitol Reef National Park is open throughout the year, 24 hours a day. This National Park receives less than around 700,000 visitors yearly. However, it can be very crowded and busy during the peak season. The peak season usually lasts from April till September.

If you want to avoid the crowds and spend a good time there, then perhaps, the most appropriate time for you to visit would be during the fall season. The fall season includes the months of October and November. These are the perfect months to visit in since the temperatures are great – warm enough to hike and camp but not so high that you have to search for shade. Additionally, the fall season is a great time to visit as you won’t have to fret about the flash floods that usually tend to occur during the monsoon season, ranging from July till September.

The Capitol Reef is an elevated desert. You can expect different weather conditions throughout the year depending upon the current season. You can expect late spring and winter to be pretty breezy.

In winters, the Capitol Reef Park receives very limited precipitation. However, snowstorms occasionally occur in the area. The temperature during the day tends to be mild, but it’s best to carry along a jacket or coat with you as it gets cold during sunset. Try opting for the scenic routes and avoid the icy slopes.

Spring is the perfect season to visit the Capitol Reef National Park because it can’t get any better than this. From blooming fruit trees to pleasant weather – this is the perfect time to have a good hike here. At night the weather tends to be a little cool. So, it always better to carry some warm clothing options with you.

Due to its elevated position, the Capitol Reef doesn’t tend to get as hot as other Southwestern parks. However, you should still be prepared for hot and arid days because they are quite common. The monsoon season (from July to September) usually means closed roads and flash floods. It’s always better to check the weather updates and forecasts before visiting the park to ensure that the roads are open and the hiking conditions are good.

Fall is another great time to pay a visit to the Capitol Reef Park. The weather is bright and sunny. The hiking conditions remain pretty great at this time. The temperature starts declining during October. Make sure that you bring a few extra layers along with you.


The Top Attractions at the Capitol Reef National Park

The Capitol Reef National Park is famous for its attractions –the most prominent one is the Waterpocket Fold. However, this park is home to unexplored beauty. The sandstone cliffs, gorgeous domes, marvelous arches and must-see canyons make this place extraordinary. If you’re a hiker, then this place will be heaven on earth for you. There are multitudes of hiking trails that lead up to breathtaking spots. We have narrowed down a few main attractions at the park that are a must-see upon your visit.


Visitor Centers

The Visitor Center at the Capitol Reef Park is situated right off UT-24. The first place to visit is definitely the Visitor Center, especially if this is your first time at the park. The Visitor Center has information, books and maps to aid you on your journey through the park. The visitor center remains open throughout the year, except for a few important holidays. Located down the road from the visitor center is a museum. The museum showcases and displays things to help you get affiliated with the geology, archaeology and even the history of the area. At the museum, you’ll also learn about how you can visit the park without causing any damage to the surrounding desert areas.


Capitol Reef Scenic Byway

While in many parks you need to get off the road to explore the true beauty of the area, this doesn’t apply to the Capitol Reef National Park. The amazing beauty of the park can easily be accessed even by sitting in your vehicle. One such greatly recommended view includes the Panorama Point. This is also known as the Goosenecks view area and is situated at the west end of this National Park.

After paying a visit to the Visitor Center, initiate your actual journey from the Capitol Reef Scenic Drive. This is an approximately 25-mile round trip road that has multiple pullouts, allowing you to stop to enjoy the gorgeous scenery. By opting for the Capitol Reef Scenic Driver, you can also find multiple short side drives that are somewhat decent and can be covered using any type of vehicle. One such drive is the Grand Wash. Once you reach this road, it is mandatory that you hike through the narrows from the trailhead located at the end of this road.


Hike to Hickman Natural Bridge

Located just 2 miles east of the Scenic Route 24 Visitor Center is a trailhead leading up to the Hickman Natural Bridge. This is an approximate two-mile round trip, which takes about one and half hour to cover. This walk is one of the greatest trails to exist in all of Utah. You can enjoy the gorgeous picturesque views and peeks at the Fremont Culture ruins. Apart from the walk, the bridge itself is a must-see in the area. It spans over a hundred feet across a stream bed. This trail offers a view of one of the largest sandstone domes, which was the inspiration behind the name of the park.


Fruita Historic District

The Fruita District is situated east of the Capitol Reef Park’s visitor center. The Fruita Settlement is a site where a small community existed from the 1880s to early 1940s. One of the must-visit places in the Fruita District is the Gifford House. Built in 1908, the Gifford House was built by a Mormon settler. This house wasn’t occupied until the late 1960s. Most of the residents of the Fruita District moved away once the Capitol Reef National Park was established.

Now, the Gifford house has a gift shop and bakery. The bakery is famous for delicious pies. The Fruita Park has a lot of fruit orchards that were planted by early occupants of the area. Some of the fruits in the orchards include apple, peach and pears. You can pick cherries in June, apricots in July, pears in August and apples in September. When you pick these fruits, you’re asked to make a small donation for them. This donation is then used to maintain the orchards.

Other places you can visit within the Fruita District include the Fruita Schoolhouse, a Blacksmith shop and the Fremont petro glyphs.


Temples

The Cathedral Valley Scenic Backway is located about five miles east of Sleepy Hollow on the Scenic Route 24. This backway is a 56-mile dirt track that leads to the northwestern part of the northern portion of Capitol Reef which is the Cathedral Valley. The Backway ends at Fremont Junction on I-70. Some of the focal attractions along this drive are the temples. The dramatic temple formations, which are regarded as the Temple of the Sun and Temple of the Moon, are just gorgeous. These temples can also be looked at from the Upper Cathedral Valley Trail. It’s recommended to travel only in high-clearance or four-wheeled vehicles as this drive can be rather rough. Since this drive passes near the shallow part of the Fremont River, it can be wet when you’re passing by. Make sure you check the weather forecast before going here.


Notom Road Scenic Backway

If you like taking back-roads, you should have a look at the Notom Road Scenic Backway located in the Southern portion of the Capitol Reef Park. This backway is 29 miles long and runs alongside the Waterpocket Fold. However, only 25 miles of this drive is fully paved. This long drive also offers a better perspective of the magnitude of the area. The Notom Road Scenic Backway joins the Burr Trail situated at the south-end of the park. This entire route makes up a 129-mile long “Waterpocket District” loop.


Capitol Gorge

When you’re at the end of the Capitol Reef Scenic Drive, you should consider driving out to the end of the Capitol Gorge spur. Even though unpaved, this scenic drive remains pretty well-kept. This road is about 2.2 miles long, but it is a little narrow for larger vehicles to pass through. The Capitol Gorge spur ends in a sleek channel that is paved between cliffs. The Capitol Gorge Trail starts right at the end Capitol Reef Scenic Drive. This trail is great for a sunny day as it offers shade throughout the day, except for peak noon hours. You can stroll for about one mile, passing the towering canyon walls that seem like they’ve been punched full of holes.


Pioneer Register

A convenient one-mile hike initiating, from the trailhead located at the end of the Capitol Gorge, will lead you to this slot canyon. On a rock wall in this canyon, which is called the Pioneer Register, you will witness the names of miners, occupants and other people who passed through this area dating back to the 1870s. The Capitol Gorge road was the focal transport route in this specific region starting from 1884. It wasn’t until the UT Highway 24 opened up in 1962 that people switched to this route. People passing through the Capitol Gorge road had to remove large boulders and other debris after a flash flood occurred in the area.


Sunset Point

Sunsets in the Capitol Reef National Park can be mesmerizing. There are certain locations that make the sunset look even more beautiful. The Sunset Point is the place to be when the sun is going down. It offers an uber-dramatic view as it overlooks the rock formations at the Capitol Reef. To reach the Sunset Point, you will have to head over to Goosenecks Overlook. There you’ll find the Sunset Point Trail from the parking lot. This short quarter-mile trail will lead you right to the Sunset Point.


Panorama Point

This point offers a panoramic view of the gorgeously rugged Capitol Reef National Park. This point has a picturesque view to offer over Highway 24 as it goes through the massive park. Located off Highway 24, it’s the perfect place to get a panoramic view of this park.


Rim Overlook Trail

If you’re a hiker searching for some amazing views, then this is the trail you should head to. The Rim Overlook Trail offers majestic views of the Fruita Historic District, the rock domes and the Waterpocket Fold Formation. This is a 2.3-mile one-way trail that will lead you up to a vista, which is about 1,000 feet over the park. The Rim Overlook trail’s trailhead initiates at the Hickman Bridge in the Fruita Historic District.


Grand Wash Trail and Cassidy Arch

At the lower entrance of the Grand Wash Trail, you’ll come across a spur trail. This trail is about 670 feet and can be climbed to reach the Cassidy Arch that is a thick rock span. This 1.7 mile trail is only one-way. This trail drops and passes by striped rock walls on the way to the Cassidy Arch. A friendlier hiking trail is the Grand Wash Trail. It is a 2.2 mile long one-way trail that leads from the lower to the upper trailhead. This is a flat riverbed lying between two tall canyons on either side. It is a very easy hike for everyone to climb. Children will surely love this trail as there are multiple rock formations they can witness on the way.


Best Accommodations

There are no lodging options available within the vicinity. However, the closest town to the Capitol Reef National Park is Torrey, Utah. Torrey offers a wide variety of lodging opportunities for those visiting the Capitol Reef.


Capitol Reef Resort

If you are looking for a luxurious place to stay near the Capitol Reef National Park, then the Capitol Reef Resort is the place to go! This resort is just a mile away from the park. The Capitol Reef Resort offers a unique place to stay and offers great amenities. The total area of the property is 58 acres. It has a variety of room options that are suitable for everyone. You can get guest rooms in either studio or suite styles. The Capitol Reef Resort also has Conestoga wagons and teepees, offering a unique experience to its guests. Many rooms also have their own patios and balconies. Some cabins are large enough to support even six people. Many rooms have gorgeous views of the Red Cliffs. This resort also offers a bunch of activities to its guests. Some of these activities include horse riding, safari and hiking tours and even Llama adventures. It also offers a heated pool, an amazing hot tub, a restaurant and even free Wi-Fi. The resort staff is proficient in multiple languages, hence eliminating the communication barrier.


Austin’s Chuckwagon Lodge and General Store

Located in the town of Torrey, Utah, Austin’s Chuckwagon Lodge is just 14 km away from the Capitol Reef National Park. It is an excellent option for travelers. This lodge has a comfortable environment in addition to the multiple amenities that it offers to its visitors.

The rooms are air-conditioned and have a refrigerator and flat screen TVs. The Austin’s Chuckwagon lodge also offers Wi-Fi to its customers and has a pool, too. Whether you bring your own vehicle or rent one, this lodge has free parking too. There are many restaurants present in the area too.


Broken Spur Inn

The Broken Spur Inn has fifty big rooms. The Broken Spur Inn has a lot to offer, including a conference center, a swimming pool, a hot tub and even a bakery. It is located near the gateway of the Capitol Reef National park at the junction of Highway 12 and 24. This inn also offers free parking and high speed Wi-Fi. The Goosenecks trail is just 8.8 km away from this inn. If you are visiting the Capitol Reef National Park with your family, this place is recommended for you.


SkyRidge Inn Bed & Breakfast

The SkyRidge Inn Bed & Breakfast is located in the town of Torrey, Utah. It is just a few kilometers away from the Capitol Reef National Park. It is a great option for motel lodging near the park. The inn is rated highly for its services and its magnificent views. The rooms are pretty spacious and very artfully decorated. The rooms are quiet and also have balconies. The Goosenecks Overlook is just 8.6 km away, while the Sunset Point Trail is 8.9 km away.


Torrey Schoolhouse Bed & Breakfast Inn

This Bed and Breakfast Inn has accommodations and offers organic breakfasts as well. The entire setting of this inn is pretty historic. This schoolhouse was established in 1914 and used to be the lifeblood of the entire Torrey county. There were various activities that took place here, including weekend dances, boxing matches and country bands. The Torrey Schoolhouse Bed & Breakfast is the perfect base for your Capitol Reef adventure. It is very close to the hiking areas and scenic trails. There are many activities there, such as horse riding, biking, etc. You can relax and enjoy your stay at this historic yet elegant bed and breakfast. It is situated in a calm and quiet area right in the heart of Torrey. The Capitol Reef National Park’s entrance is only five minutes away from this Bed and Breakfast.


Red Sands Hotel

The Red Sands Hotel Capitol Reef is located very close to the beautiful Capitol Reef National Park. The Red Sands Hotel offers clean and spacious rooms with flat screen TVs, hair dryers, refrigerators and even laundry options. If you don’t want to miss out on your gym routine, there’s a fitness room here too. The best part is that you can star gaze while sitting around the fire-pit. You can also participate in yoga classes that take place in the morning. Once you’re back from your Capitol Reef excursion, you can opt for a massage. They have a massage therapist to help you relax.


Sunlit Oasis

The Sunlit Oasis is a house styled like a ranch. It is situated in Notom, which is just fifteen minutes away from the Capitol Reef National Park. It has tidy and relaxing rooms as it is located in a rural area. If you’re looking for a quiet weekend getaway, then this is the place for you.


The Noor Hotel

Situated in the town of Torrey, this hotel is the perfect option for those traveling on a budget. It has various amenities and the hotel room can accommodate almost 4 people.


Safety Travelling Tips

One of the biggest concerns when travelling is safety. When paying a visit to an area with a geographical landscape as eccentric as the Capitol Reef, it’s necessary that you take certain precautionary measures. While many visitors have a great time exploring this wonder, it’s best to be prepped for any unforeseen or uncertain events that might transpire. It’s suggested that you travel around with a professional guide.


Weather

One of the biggest concerns of visiting the Capitol Reef National Park is the weather. Due to the elevated levels of this area, the temperature tends to be quite low during the summer season. However, you still have to look for shade and apply sunscreen as some days can be pretty warm and arid. Hikers are suggested to carry a lot of water along with them, especially during summers.

If you are traveling to this place during the monsoon season, i.e., July through September, then you need to be prepared. The rain brings flash floods along with it that fill the narrow canyons spontaneously. You need to be extra careful about the Capitol Gorge and the Grand Wash as they can be pretty dangerous and must be avoided, especially during the storm season.

In winters, it also snows in many areas of the park. Make sure you check the weather forecast and pack accordingly. The weather may block certain roads.


Additional Safety Tips:

Listed below are a few additional tips, especially for hikers.

  1. Always be prepared for the kind of hiking adventures you’re planning to do. Talk to people and the park management before setting off for a hike.
  2. Get feedback on the current road conditions that lead to the trailhead.
  3. Avoid going for a hike during summers. The best seasons for hiking are Spring and Fall.
  4. Always carry water along with you and don’t drink untreated water.
  5. Be prepared for sunny days. Apply sunscreen and put on a cap.
  6. Bring insect repellent with you. Places like the Capitol Reef can have a lot of different types of insects.
  7. Canyon hiking doesn’t require you to bring heavy boots. Rather, it can be pretty difficult to carry them around. It is recommended that you carry running shoes or some light boots with you.
  8. Be careful when you come across river crossings. They can be dangerous.
  9. Stay on the trail. Going off the trail can be risky and you might wind up getting lost.
  10. Keep away from cliff edges. Falling off from cliffs edges result in death.
  11. Keep an eye out for any posted warning signs. Observe and follow them.
  12. Keep an eye on your children as they can get hurt.
  13. Avoid going to narrow canyons, especially during storm threats.
  14. Always follow the speed limits on roads and make sure all car passengers wear seatbelts.
  15. When in Fruita, don’t climb the trees to pick fruit. You can find hand-held fruit pickers and also ladders to help you.


Final Word

If you are stopping in Utah, then the Capitol Reef National Park is a must-visit. This National Park is home to different land formations and also hosts the Waterpocket Fold – a wrinkle in the earth’s surface. With magnificent canyons spread throughout, the Sunset Point offers a gorgeous view of the sun setting over the canyon. This park also offers a bunch of different activities and hosts various hiking trails that follow gorgeous and scenic views. From cliffs to canyons and even domes and bridges, this geological treasure has a lot to offer.

This geological wonder has something to offer to all of its visitors. Whether you are a thrill seeking hiker or a geology and history enthusiast, this place is for you. When you visit this place, you will have a chance to experience multiple trails with easily accessible trailheads that lead to perfect spots with picturesque views.

Whether you’re planning a short trip or a long one – this National Park should be at the top of your list! This area has a lot to offer and is an experience you don’t want to miss out on. Paying a visit to this park will ensure that you reconnect and fall in love with nature all over again.

If you are traveling to this park, make sure to keep this guide with you. It has all the information you need – from the must-see areas and spots to the best hiking trails. So, pull out your bags and pack your hiking gear because you’re in for one hell of a ride!

Safe and happy travels!

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Your Guide To The Capitol Reef National Park

Book AuthorGoglides
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Your Guide To The Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park: General Summary

The Capitol Reef National Park, situated in South-central Utah, is a geological treasure. Stretched over 241, 900 acres of vast land, this place is a wonder that is full of amazing landforms, ranging from cliffs and canyons to domes and bridges. Extending up to 100 miles in this massive park is the Waterpocket fold that is a geologic monocline, also known as a wrinkle on earth.

There is an interesting explanation behind this park’s name. It was named for a specific colorful portion of the fold, where rounded Navajo sandstone forms domes that are capitol-like and sheer cliffs forma barrier for traveling, which is commonly referred to as a ‘reef.’ Now, there’s an adjoining highway that crosses the reef, but traveling through it is still very difficult.

Sandstone cliffs, perfectly-shaped white domes, tall canyons and gorgeous arches are a few prominent features of the Capitol Reef National Park. This park is gorgeously rugged and certain parts still remain unexplored. To explore all the amazing hiking trails, it can take a while. Additionally, the closest town to this Park is Torrey, Utah where most of the lodging is available.


Date of Inauguration

In 1933, Ephraim Pectol won the elections for the Utah legislature. He instantly reached out to President Roosevelt to ask him to create the "Wayne Wonderland National Monument" consisting of the many lands that the Capitol Reef comprised of. Many federal agencies were assigned to the task of evaluating the boundaries and taking out the feasibility of the specified area. Finally, on the 2nd of August 1973, President Roosevelt agreed to classify the Capitol Reef area to form the Capitol Reef National Monument. Around 37,000 acres of land of the Capitol reef area was set aside. After a few problems over the years, President Lyndon Johnson was pressured to put aside vast areas of public lands right before he abandoned his office. Therefore, in 1970, another 215,057 acres of land was handed over to the National Park Service. By 1970, the Capital Reef Monument turned into the Capitol Reef National Park—stretching southeast from Thousand Lake Mountain till the Colorado River.


The Visitor’s Center

Located in South-central Utah, Highway 24 passes through the middle of the Capitol Reef Park. It is the main access route. The visitor center for this massive and wonderful park is located just off the primary access route of highway 24. It is open throughout the year. It is the best place to initiate your journey. The visitor center offers all sorts of information and displays. It also has a museum the gives insights about many aspects of the park such as its geology, archaeology and even history. This information makes it easier for you to explore the entire park. It is suggested that visitors should stop by and visit the visitor’s centre so they’re aware of what they should expect from the park. Various maps and brochures are available for purchase too.


Introduction

The Capitol Reef National Park is situated in South-central Utah. Recognized as a national monument in 1937 and then re-introduced as a National Park in 1971, this area is a magnificent wonder. The Capitol Reef National Park is 100 miles long, which is about 160 km. It is long and fairly narrow. The park is located by the north-west edge of the Colorado Plateau. The Fishlake national forest is located on the Southwest border of the park, while the Dixie national forest is located in the south. With rocks and geological formations dating back a million years, this place is a must-see.

The area features a variety of landforms such as beautiful canyons, gorgeous ridges and even monoliths. The most prominent feature of this park is the Waterpocket fold. Stretching out from the Thousand Lake Mountain down to Lake Powell – the Waterpocket fold lies well-preserved within the park’s boundaries. The Waterpocket Fold is a monocline in the Earth’s crust. This monocline is a result of thick layers of sedimentary rock deposits that occurred over a period of over 200 million years. Some 70 million years ago, the uplift of the plateau formed this monocline or fold of the Earth’s crust.

This area was named the Capitol Reef due to its long rock ridges that were topped by pinnacles formed by barriers to keep people from travelling there. Its dome-shaped formations bear an uncanny resemblance to the monumental building of the US Capitol located in Washington D.C. Hence, the name Capitol Reef.

Over the years, the erosions that have taken place have transformed the entire area. They have resulted in various geological formations in the area such as pinnacles, arches, towers and even domes. Majority of these gorgeous geological formations are made of Navajo stone or Wingate Sandstone. The Freemont River, along with its various other tributaries, cross the geological formations right through the canyons.

Offering a variety of activities, including hiking and camping, the Capitol Reef National Park is perfect for a mini getaway. The picturesque drives and the orchards, coupled with the mesmerizing geological formations in the area, are just some reasons why you should visit this place.


A Brief History

The Fremont hunters and farmers were some of the earliest inhabitants of the Capitol Reef County. Back in 700 A.D. they settled down on the fertile lands, situated near lakes and streams. Although these Native American Indians bid farewell to the county back in 1250, they still left behind signs of their presence on rocks and various canyon walls. From the 1600s till the 1800s, the Capitol Reef area welcome new settlers referred to as the Paiute Indians. After they entered and settled here, the Capitol Reef area was officially explored. The exploration and documentation of this area officially commenced in 1872. Then in the 1920s, Ephraim Pectol partnered up with his brother-in-law Joseph S. Hickman to advertise and preserve this geological wonder. In 1926, around sixteen acres of the Fruita community were to be transformed into a state park. This area was further extended and classified as a monument by President Roosevelt in 1937. Finally, in 1971, this geologically spectacular area was reclassified as a park.


Geological Formations

The most picturesque area of the Waterpocket Fold is the Capitol Reef. The Capitol Reef area is very rich when it comes to geological and topographical factors. The landscape of this area is a consequence of 200 million years of geologic history. The Waterpocket Fold is regarded as a class monocline – it is a 100-mile long warp on the surface of the earth. A bend in the strata of rocks, which are otherwise horizontal, is referred to as a monocline. It has a regional fold and one steep side area— the remaining areas are horizontal. The Waterpocket fold is almost 50 to 70 million years old. Within the past 15 to 20 million years, the uplift of the whole Colorado Plateau, coupled with the erosion, has brought up this fold more evidently on to the surface. The name Waterpocket fold was given due to the continuously eroding layers of rock. Basins that develop in sandstone layers due to the erosion of water form ‘waterpockets.’ Multiple basins are present throughout the fold. Hence the name, Waterpocket Fold. Even today, the continuous erosion of these tilted rock layers form massive domes, colorful cliffs, twisting canyons and beautiful arches.

Located near the Fremont River, this area is just beautiful. This place gets its name from the wonderful geological formations there. The word Capitol is suggested for the white Navajo Sandstone domes. These domes are very familiar to the dome at the capitol building; hence, the word Capitol. The rocky cliff, which is basically coral reefs, forms the second half of the name— reefs.

Almost ten thousand feet of sedimentary rocks are present in this area. These sedimentary rocks range from the Permian to the Cretaceous period. The Permian period was270 million years ago, while the Cretaceous period was 80 million years ago. You will come across the older Permian rocks in the western area of the park and the younger cretaceous rocks near the eastern boundary.

The layer over layer sequenced sedimentary rocks date back to almost 200 million years of geological history. The various rock layers are evidence of ancient environments such as rivers (Chinle Formation), deserts (Navajo Sandstone) and shallow oceans (Mancos Shale). The slope of the Waterpocket fold fades away near the Thousand Lake Mountain, which is situated near the northwest area of the park. The various layers of rock in the Cathedral Valley are at least 3-5 degrees inclined. Extreme erosion has resulted in the monoliths, Entrada sandstones and temples at the Cathedral Valley. A few of the cathedrals are also covered by thin and hard beds of marine sandstone, which are referred to as the Curtis Formation.

The gorgeous Entrada temples at Cathedral valley are complemented by other geological features such as the flowing and dissolution of gypsum. Thin igneous rocks and tiny volcanic plugs such as dikes and sills can also be found in the Upper Cathedral Valley. These geological features are a result of volcanic activity that is almost 3 to 6 million years old. Significant canyon cutting took place between the past 6 million years. Hard sandstone such as the red Wingate and white Navajo sandstone form most of the cliffs in the area. Most of the slopes and low hills in the area are made of the Chinle Formation. Much of these hills remain barren due to their infertility. There are black boulders spread throughout the area near the Fremont River. These volcanic rocks are almost 20 to 30 million years old. These boulders arrived at the Capitol Reef during the ice age period.

The Capitol Reef was established due to the spectacular rock domes in addition to the narrow canyons found near the Waterpocket Fold. Much of the park’s boundaries were established to take in a majority of the fold. This is a place to witness the best sceneries formed through serious geological processes over the years. It encompasses a variety of features, ranging from the Thousand Lake Mountain to Fruita and even the Bentonite Hills.


Planning Your Itinerary


One Day Itinerary

If you have only a day at your disposal to view this magnificent geological wonder, then we have an itinerary planned for you. You’ll have to wake up early so you have an entire day to visit the most amazing parts of the Capitol Reef National Park. We suggest that you find lodging within the Fruita district if you’re staying there for a day. Here are the few places that you should visit.

  • Cassidy Arch Trail (am)
  • Scenic Drive down to Capitol Gorge
  • Hickman Bridge Trail
  • Scenic Drive Hwy 24

If you’re visiting the Capitol Reef National Park for a short drive, then we have just the right itinerary for you. If you’re heading to the Capitol Reef (for instance, you’re coming from Bryce Canyon), then you’ll be entering from the west side of the park. It’s best if you come in a four-wheel drive. You can drive towards Panorama point first. Then visit the Goosenecks Overlook and go up to Sunset Point.

If you’re at the Capitol Reef Park, then you have to visit Fruita. From Fruita, you can take a right onto the Scenic drive and spend a good couple of hours driving here. On this road, you’ll be presented with the option to go to the Grand Wash and Capitol Gorge spurs for hiking. Once you’re back on Highway 24, you can hike to Hickman Bridge to top off your day trip!

In a different scenario, if you enter the Capitol Reef from the east side, then you can start your trip from the Hickman Bridge and move on to the Panorama Point.


How Long to Stay at the Park

Well, that depends on the number of days you have at your disposal. The longer you plan on staying, the better. The endless hiking trails will take a while to explore completely. To cover a few hikes, you’ll need at least five to seven days. If you want to escape the hustle bustle of the city– this is the place to go! It will take at least three to four days to cover the basic hikes in the area.


When to Visit the Park

The Capitol Reef National Park is open throughout the year, 24 hours a day. This National Park receives less than around 700,000 visitors yearly. However, it can be very crowded and busy during the peak season. The peak season usually lasts from April till September.

If you want to avoid the crowds and spend a good time there, then perhaps, the most appropriate time for you to visit would be during the fall season. The fall season includes the months of October and November. These are the perfect months to visit in since the temperatures are great – warm enough to hike and camp but not so high that you have to search for shade. Additionally, the fall season is a great time to visit as you won’t have to fret about the flash floods that usually tend to occur during the monsoon season, ranging from July till September.

The Capitol Reef is an elevated desert. You can expect different weather conditions throughout the year depending upon the current season. You can expect late spring and winter to be pretty breezy.

In winters, the Capitol Reef Park receives very limited precipitation. However, snowstorms occasionally occur in the area. The temperature during the day tends to be mild, but it’s best to carry along a jacket or coat with you as it gets cold during sunset. Try opting for the scenic routes and avoid the icy slopes.

Spring is the perfect season to visit the Capitol Reef National Park because it can’t get any better than this. From blooming fruit trees to pleasant weather – this is the perfect time to have a good hike here. At night the weather tends to be a little cool. So, it always better to carry some warm clothing options with you.

Due to its elevated position, the Capitol Reef doesn’t tend to get as hot as other Southwestern parks. However, you should still be prepared for hot and arid days because they are quite common. The monsoon season (from July to September) usually means closed roads and flash floods. It’s always better to check the weather updates and forecasts before visiting the park to ensure that the roads are open and the hiking conditions are good.

Fall is another great time to pay a visit to the Capitol Reef Park. The weather is bright and sunny. The hiking conditions remain pretty great at this time. The temperature starts declining during October. Make sure that you bring a few extra layers along with you.


The Top Attractions at the Capitol Reef National Park

The Capitol Reef National Park is famous for its attractions –the most prominent one is the Waterpocket Fold. However, this park is home to unexplored beauty. The sandstone cliffs, gorgeous domes, marvelous arches and must-see canyons make this place extraordinary. If you’re a hiker, then this place will be heaven on earth for you. There are multitudes of hiking trails that lead up to breathtaking spots. We have narrowed down a few main attractions at the park that are a must-see upon your visit.


Visitor Centers

The Visitor Center at the Capitol Reef Park is situated right off UT-24. The first place to visit is definitely the Visitor Center, especially if this is your first time at the park. The Visitor Center has information, books and maps to aid you on your journey through the park. The visitor center remains open throughout the year, except for a few important holidays. Located down the road from the visitor center is a museum. The museum showcases and displays things to help you get affiliated with the geology, archaeology and even the history of the area. At the museum, you’ll also learn about how you can visit the park without causing any damage to the surrounding desert areas.


Capitol Reef Scenic Byway

While in many parks you need to get off the road to explore the true beauty of the area, this doesn’t apply to the Capitol Reef National Park. The amazing beauty of the park can easily be accessed even by sitting in your vehicle. One such greatly recommended view includes the Panorama Point. This is also known as the Goosenecks view area and is situated at the west end of this National Park.

After paying a visit to the Visitor Center, initiate your actual journey from the Capitol Reef Scenic Drive. This is an approximately 25-mile round trip road that has multiple pullouts, allowing you to stop to enjoy the gorgeous scenery. By opting for the Capitol Reef Scenic Driver, you can also find multiple short side drives that are somewhat decent and can be covered using any type of vehicle. One such drive is the Grand Wash. Once you reach this road, it is mandatory that you hike through the narrows from the trailhead located at the end of this road.


Hike to Hickman Natural Bridge

Located just 2 miles east of the Scenic Route 24 Visitor Center is a trailhead leading up to the Hickman Natural Bridge. This is an approximate two-mile round trip, which takes about one and half hour to cover. This walk is one of the greatest trails to exist in all of Utah. You can enjoy the gorgeous picturesque views and peeks at the Fremont Culture ruins. Apart from the walk, the bridge itself is a must-see in the area. It spans over a hundred feet across a stream bed. This trail offers a view of one of the largest sandstone domes, which was the inspiration behind the name of the park.


Fruita Historic District

The Fruita District is situated east of the Capitol Reef Park’s visitor center. The Fruita Settlement is a site where a small community existed from the 1880s to early 1940s. One of the must-visit places in the Fruita District is the Gifford House. Built in 1908, the Gifford House was built by a Mormon settler. This house wasn’t occupied until the late 1960s. Most of the residents of the Fruita District moved away once the Capitol Reef National Park was established.

Now, the Gifford house has a gift shop and bakery. The bakery is famous for delicious pies. The Fruita Park has a lot of fruit orchards that were planted by early occupants of the area. Some of the fruits in the orchards include apple, peach and pears. You can pick cherries in June, apricots in July, pears in August and apples in September. When you pick these fruits, you’re asked to make a small donation for them. This donation is then used to maintain the orchards.

Other places you can visit within the Fruita District include the Fruita Schoolhouse, a Blacksmith shop and the Fremont petro glyphs.


Temples

The Cathedral Valley Scenic Backway is located about five miles east of Sleepy Hollow on the Scenic Route 24. This backway is a 56-mile dirt track that leads to the northwestern part of the northern portion of Capitol Reef which is the Cathedral Valley. The Backway ends at Fremont Junction on I-70. Some of the focal attractions along this drive are the temples. The dramatic temple formations, which are regarded as the Temple of the Sun and Temple of the Moon, are just gorgeous. These temples can also be looked at from the Upper Cathedral Valley Trail. It’s recommended to travel only in high-clearance or four-wheeled vehicles as this drive can be rather rough. Since this drive passes near the shallow part of the Fremont River, it can be wet when you’re passing by. Make sure you check the weather forecast before going here.


Notom Road Scenic Backway

If you like taking back-roads, you should have a look at the Notom Road Scenic Backway located in the Southern portion of the Capitol Reef Park. This backway is 29 miles long and runs alongside the Waterpocket Fold. However, only 25 miles of this drive is fully paved. This long drive also offers a better perspective of the magnitude of the area. The Notom Road Scenic Backway joins the Burr Trail situated at the south-end of the park. This entire route makes up a 129-mile long “Waterpocket District” loop.


Capitol Gorge

When you’re at the end of the Capitol Reef Scenic Drive, you should consider driving out to the end of the Capitol Gorge spur. Even though unpaved, this scenic drive remains pretty well-kept. This road is about 2.2 miles long, but it is a little narrow for larger vehicles to pass through. The Capitol Gorge spur ends in a sleek channel that is paved between cliffs. The Capitol Gorge Trail starts right at the end Capitol Reef Scenic Drive. This trail is great for a sunny day as it offers shade throughout the day, except for peak noon hours. You can stroll for about one mile, passing the towering canyon walls that seem like they’ve been punched full of holes.


Pioneer Register

A convenient one-mile hike initiating, from the trailhead located at the end of the Capitol Gorge, will lead you to this slot canyon. On a rock wall in this canyon, which is called the Pioneer Register, you will witness the names of miners, occupants and other people who passed through this area dating back to the 1870s. The Capitol Gorge road was the focal transport route in this specific region starting from 1884. It wasn’t until the UT Highway 24 opened up in 1962 that people switched to this route. People passing through the Capitol Gorge road had to remove large boulders and other debris after a flash flood occurred in the area.


Sunset Point

Sunsets in the Capitol Reef National Park can be mesmerizing. There are certain locations that make the sunset look even more beautiful. The Sunset Point is the place to be when the sun is going down. It offers an uber-dramatic view as it overlooks the rock formations at the Capitol Reef. To reach the Sunset Point, you will have to head over to Goosenecks Overlook. There you’ll find the Sunset Point Trail from the parking lot. This short quarter-mile trail will lead you right to the Sunset Point.


Panorama Point

This point offers a panoramic view of the gorgeously rugged Capitol Reef National Park. This point has a picturesque view to offer over Highway 24 as it goes through the massive park. Located off Highway 24, it’s the perfect place to get a panoramic view of this park.


Rim Overlook Trail

If you’re a hiker searching for some amazing views, then this is the trail you should head to. The Rim Overlook Trail offers majestic views of the Fruita Historic District, the rock domes and the Waterpocket Fold Formation. This is a 2.3-mile one-way trail that will lead you up to a vista, which is about 1,000 feet over the park. The Rim Overlook trail’s trailhead initiates at the Hickman Bridge in the Fruita Historic District.


Grand Wash Trail and Cassidy Arch

At the lower entrance of the Grand Wash Trail, you’ll come across a spur trail. This trail is about 670 feet and can be climbed to reach the Cassidy Arch that is a thick rock span. This 1.7 mile trail is only one-way. This trail drops and passes by striped rock walls on the way to the Cassidy Arch. A friendlier hiking trail is the Grand Wash Trail. It is a 2.2 mile long one-way trail that leads from the lower to the upper trailhead. This is a flat riverbed lying between two tall canyons on either side. It is a very easy hike for everyone to climb. Children will surely love this trail as there are multiple rock formations they can witness on the way.


Best Accommodations

There are no lodging options available within the vicinity. However, the closest town to the Capitol Reef National Park is Torrey, Utah. Torrey offers a wide variety of lodging opportunities for those visiting the Capitol Reef.


Capitol Reef Resort

If you are looking for a luxurious place to stay near the Capitol Reef National Park, then the Capitol Reef Resort is the place to go! This resort is just a mile away from the park. The Capitol Reef Resort offers a unique place to stay and offers great amenities. The total area of the property is 58 acres. It has a variety of room options that are suitable for everyone. You can get guest rooms in either studio or suite styles. The Capitol Reef Resort also has Conestoga wagons and teepees, offering a unique experience to its guests. Many rooms also have their own patios and balconies. Some cabins are large enough to support even six people. Many rooms have gorgeous views of the Red Cliffs. This resort also offers a bunch of activities to its guests. Some of these activities include horse riding, safari and hiking tours and even Llama adventures. It also offers a heated pool, an amazing hot tub, a restaurant and even free Wi-Fi. The resort staff is proficient in multiple languages, hence eliminating the communication barrier.


Austin’s Chuckwagon Lodge and General Store

Located in the town of Torrey, Utah, Austin’s Chuckwagon Lodge is just 14 km away from the Capitol Reef National Park. It is an excellent option for travelers. This lodge has a comfortable environment in addition to the multiple amenities that it offers to its visitors.

The rooms are air-conditioned and have a refrigerator and flat screen TVs. The Austin’s Chuckwagon lodge also offers Wi-Fi to its customers and has a pool, too. Whether you bring your own vehicle or rent one, this lodge has free parking too. There are many restaurants present in the area too.


Broken Spur Inn

The Broken Spur Inn has fifty big rooms. The Broken Spur Inn has a lot to offer, including a conference center, a swimming pool, a hot tub and even a bakery. It is located near the gateway of the Capitol Reef National park at the junction of Highway 12 and 24. This inn also offers free parking and high speed Wi-Fi. The Goosenecks trail is just 8.8 km away from this inn. If you are visiting the Capitol Reef National Park with your family, this place is recommended for you.


SkyRidge Inn Bed & Breakfast

The SkyRidge Inn Bed & Breakfast is located in the town of Torrey, Utah. It is just a few kilometers away from the Capitol Reef National Park. It is a great option for motel lodging near the park. The inn is rated highly for its services and its magnificent views. The rooms are pretty spacious and very artfully decorated. The rooms are quiet and also have balconies. The Goosenecks Overlook is just 8.6 km away, while the Sunset Point Trail is 8.9 km away.


Torrey Schoolhouse Bed & Breakfast Inn

This Bed and Breakfast Inn has accommodations and offers organic breakfasts as well. The entire setting of this inn is pretty historic. This schoolhouse was established in 1914 and used to be the lifeblood of the entire Torrey county. There were various activities that took place here, including weekend dances, boxing matches and country bands. The Torrey Schoolhouse Bed & Breakfast is the perfect base for your Capitol Reef adventure. It is very close to the hiking areas and scenic trails. There are many activities there, such as horse riding, biking, etc. You can relax and enjoy your stay at this historic yet elegant bed and breakfast. It is situated in a calm and quiet area right in the heart of Torrey. The Capitol Reef National Park’s entrance is only five minutes away from this Bed and Breakfast.


Red Sands Hotel

The Red Sands Hotel Capitol Reef is located very close to the beautiful Capitol Reef National Park. The Red Sands Hotel offers clean and spacious rooms with flat screen TVs, hair dryers, refrigerators and even laundry options. If you don’t want to miss out on your gym routine, there’s a fitness room here too. The best part is that you can star gaze while sitting around the fire-pit. You can also participate in yoga classes that take place in the morning. Once you’re back from your Capitol Reef excursion, you can opt for a massage. They have a massage therapist to help you relax.


Sunlit Oasis

The Sunlit Oasis is a house styled like a ranch. It is situated in Notom, which is just fifteen minutes away from the Capitol Reef National Park. It has tidy and relaxing rooms as it is located in a rural area. If you’re looking for a quiet weekend getaway, then this is the place for you.


The Noor Hotel

Situated in the town of Torrey, this hotel is the perfect option for those traveling on a budget. It has various amenities and the hotel room can accommodate almost 4 people.


Safety Travelling Tips

One of the biggest concerns when travelling is safety. When paying a visit to an area with a geographical landscape as eccentric as the Capitol Reef, it’s necessary that you take certain precautionary measures. While many visitors have a great time exploring this wonder, it’s best to be prepped for any unforeseen or uncertain events that might transpire. It’s suggested that you travel around with a professional guide.


Weather

One of the biggest concerns of visiting the Capitol Reef National Park is the weather. Due to the elevated levels of this area, the temperature tends to be quite low during the summer season. However, you still have to look for shade and apply sunscreen as some days can be pretty warm and arid. Hikers are suggested to carry a lot of water along with them, especially during summers.

If you are traveling to this place during the monsoon season, i.e., July through September, then you need to be prepared. The rain brings flash floods along with it that fill the narrow canyons spontaneously. You need to be extra careful about the Capitol Gorge and the Grand Wash as they can be pretty dangerous and must be avoided, especially during the storm season.

In winters, it also snows in many areas of the park. Make sure you check the weather forecast and pack accordingly. The weather may block certain roads.


Additional Safety Tips:

Listed below are a few additional tips, especially for hikers.

  1. Always be prepared for the kind of hiking adventures you’re planning to do. Talk to people and the park management before setting off for a hike.
  2. Get feedback on the current road conditions that lead to the trailhead.
  3. Avoid going for a hike during summers. The best seasons for hiking are Spring and Fall.
  4. Always carry water along with you and don’t drink untreated water.
  5. Be prepared for sunny days. Apply sunscreen and put on a cap.
  6. Bring insect repellent with you. Places like the Capitol Reef can have a lot of different types of insects.
  7. Canyon hiking doesn’t require you to bring heavy boots. Rather, it can be pretty difficult to carry them around. It is recommended that you carry running shoes or some light boots with you.
  8. Be careful when you come across river crossings. They can be dangerous.
  9. Stay on the trail. Going off the trail can be risky and you might wind up getting lost.
  10. Keep away from cliff edges. Falling off from cliffs edges result in death.
  11. Keep an eye out for any posted warning signs. Observe and follow them.
  12. Keep an eye on your children as they can get hurt.
  13. Avoid going to narrow canyons, especially during storm threats.
  14. Always follow the speed limits on roads and make sure all car passengers wear seatbelts.
  15. When in Fruita, don’t climb the trees to pick fruit. You can find hand-held fruit pickers and also ladders to help you.


Final Word

If you are stopping in Utah, then the Capitol Reef National Park is a must-visit. This National Park is home to different land formations and also hosts the Waterpocket Fold – a wrinkle in the earth’s surface. With magnificent canyons spread throughout, the Sunset Point offers a gorgeous view of the sun setting over the canyon. This park also offers a bunch of different activities and hosts various hiking trails that follow gorgeous and scenic views. From cliffs to canyons and even domes and bridges, this geological treasure has a lot to offer.

This geological wonder has something to offer to all of its visitors. Whether you are a thrill seeking hiker or a geology and history enthusiast, this place is for you. When you visit this place, you will have a chance to experience multiple trails with easily accessible trailheads that lead to perfect spots with picturesque views.

Whether you’re planning a short trip or a long one – this National Park should be at the top of your list! This area has a lot to offer and is an experience you don’t want to miss out on. Paying a visit to this park will ensure that you reconnect and fall in love with nature all over again.

If you are traveling to this park, make sure to keep this guide with you. It has all the information you need – from the must-see areas and spots to the best hiking trails. So, pull out your bags and pack your hiking gear because you’re in for one hell of a ride!

Safe and happy travels!