Capitol Reef National Park is like all the other Utah parks smoothed into one: towering slot canyons like Zion, mind-bending rock formations like Bryce, spans of Natural arches and bridges like Arches and expansive overlooks like Canyonlands. Throw in the Historic Fruita district at the center of the park where you can tour an old Mormon settlement, pick your own apples or pears and get incredible fresh pies and homemade ice cream and you have a park whose diversity is hard to beat.
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During our whole stay we were trying to figure out why Capitol Reef was the least visited of the 5 Utah National Parks. It’s probably just that it takes a bit more work to get there being secluded center of southern Utah.
We experienced firsthand the ruggedness of the park. Many of the destinations – in the south of the park and even on the most popular scenic drive – are reached by rough gravel roads (I was sweating for our car a lot). There’s even a whole section called Cathedral Valley in the north that requires driving through a river! We really wanted to check it out, but didn’t want to risk the drive with predicted rain. Even all our favorite hikes (Upper Muley Canyon and Sulphur Creek) were not on trails, but suggested routes with cairns to mark the way.
In the end we fell in love with Capitol Reef and could have stayed another whole week. There are endless adventures to be had and the extra effort it takes is so worth it!