“a geologic wrinkle on earth!”
Capitol Reef National Park is a United States National Park, in south-central Utah. It is 100 miles long but fairly narrow. The park, established in 1971, preserves 378 mi and is open all year, although May through September are the most popular months. Located in south-central Utah in the heart of red rock country, Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden treasure filled with cliffs, canyons, domes and bridges in the Waterpocket Fold, a geologic monocline (a wrinkle on the earth) extending almost 100 miles. The area of Capitol Reef has been a homeland to people for thousands of years. Archaic hunters and gatherers migrated through the canyons. Fremont Culture solidified around 500 CE, from food foraging groups, to farmers of corn, beans and squash. Petroglyphs etched in rock walls and painted pictographs remain as sacred remnants of the ancient Indians' saga. Explorers, Mormon pioneers and others arrived in the 1800s, settling in what is now the Fruita Rural Historic District. They planted and nurtured orchards of apples, pears, and peaches. The geology of the Waterpocket Fold created conditions which allowed unique plant species to evolve here. A total of 887 plant species occur in the park many of which have very restricted distributions, occuring on specific geologic formations, soils, slopes, or elevation or precipitation ranges.
My family and I camped one night here. This geologic formation is one great place to go hiking. If you need advice on what to do, there is Visitor Center and they would be more than glad to help you with your hiking plans. They helped us in our hikes. They pointed out several routes that would be suitable for us. We did the Chimney Rock hike. And boy, it was not easy. It was kind of challenging. But the view of the rocks at the end of the hike was really fantastic. This park is surely breathtaking, figuratively and literally speaking. Haha
Small Park and no fees. Stop at visitor center for map and junior ranger program and movie to learn about the park.
This park is loaded with all kinds of offbeat and awesome things to do! Hike Cathedral Valley, visit the Elijah Cutler Behunin cabin (famed outlaw Butch Cassidy frequented Mr. Behunin's house back in the day, and called Robber's Roost, only 70 miles away, home), or just cruise around and take it all in.
Totally worth the trip. Make sure to stop at the Gifford house for fresh pie. They also sell jams and pickles. So good!!
Capitol Reef should be dubbed "Hipster National Park"--it's a really cool park, and you've probably never been to it. Capitol Reef is a little out of the way and really flies beneath the radar (especially compared to other national parks in Utah like Arches, Bryce, or Zion), but it's totally worth checking out. The area is beautiful, and it's free to drive through the park and dig its crazy awesome scenery. The drive in to Capitol Reef along Utah's Highway 24 is also one of the coolest drives I've ever taken.
I don't know what Stephen Rees is talking about, claiming this place should be referred to as "Hipster NP," but this is my favorite NP in Utah. Much less crowded than the others in the area...and the drive on Hwy 24 should be on every roadtripper's list.
Even though we saw Arches and Bryce Canyon on our Utah road trip in 2018, Capitol Reef was my favorite! I had heard it was the least visited national park in Utah, and indeed we almost had the park to ourselves when we were there. We loved the scenic drive, the short hikes, and the Fruita community! The landscape was breathtaking, and as we were leaving, we stopped to watch a storm roll in. It was absolutely mesmerizing. I can't wait to return to this park!
Don't skip Capitol Reef! Definitely the underdog of Utah. Spend the time to hike and off road and you'll get a one-of-a-kind, intimate national park experience
Great Park to hike, Bring water and visit the Visitor Center, Consider this practice for Bryce and Zion
This park is one of our favorites. Be sure and take the drive out to the petroglyphs trail. It is beautiful
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Capitol Reef National Park
- Sun - Sat: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
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Good for bird watching, hiking, and stargazing.
Credit Cards Accepted
Campground, Parking, Dining