Nestled in Southern Utah near National Park giants like Bryce Canyon and Arches, it is hard to believe that Capitol Reef has remained a hidden gem. As the least popular Utah national park, it’s also possibly the most diverse, with arches, cliffs, an International Dark Sky, historic fruit orchards, and a 100-mile system of slot canyons and incredible backcountry opportunities.
Our four days here was spent dabbling in all of those things. We found the park a great “sampler platter” for the best of what Utah has to offer. And without crowds, it was that much more enjoyable.
There is so much to explore, but our favorites included a short hike to Cassidy Arch, a longer hike to Navajo Knobs, a splash through the narrows of the Sulphur Creek route, picking fruit from the orchards, and attending fantastic ranger programs.
- Where your planning begins: NPS Website
- Our article, How to Visit Capitol Reef for (Almost) Free
- Our Video Highlights
- Our Facebook Photo Gallery
- Our podcast highlights
- Explore the historic Fruita district: pick fruit, buy a homemade pie, and attend ranger programs to learn about the area
- Drive further into the park: visit the two gorge areas, climb the short hike to Cassidy Arch, or complete a longer hike with spectacular views like Navajo Knobs
- If you have more time, drive into the Waterpocket District, a fascinating geologic anomaly.
- Grab a route description for Sulphur Creek. It is located right behind the visitor center but few guests know about the trail.
- If you have a four-wheel vehicle, check out the Cathedral District.
- Try camping just outside of the park in several BLM or USFS land areas. It’s a great way to experience the striking night sky!
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In August 2015 we left our jobs and our home to go on a tour of all 59 National Parks across the US during the NPS Centennial year. We spent a year immersing ourselves for about 5 days in each park as we tent camped, hiked, biked, backpacked, kayaked, and climbed our way through the challenge and adventure of our lifetime.
We are Cole and Elizabeth, twenty-something Missourians turned National Parks explorers - constantly seeking to find new adventure and ourselves. Follow our journey for pictures, videos, park tips, and stories - because after all, the Parks are for sharing.