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Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park   |  Andrew Burr
  • Weather: Partly Sunny, 37F
Even considering Utah’s many impressive national parks and monuments, it is difficult to rival Capitol Reef National Park’s sense of expansiveness, of broad, sweeping vistas, of a tortured, twisted, seemingly endless landscape, or of limitless sky and desert rock. While Bryce and Zion are like encapsulated little fantasy lands of colored stone and soaring cliffs, the less-visited Capitol Reef is almost like a planet unto itself. Here you get a real feel for what the earth might have been like before life appeared, when nothing existed but earth and sky.

Things To Do

Where to Stay

Hotels & Lodging

Check out the Capitol Reef Resort (found just outside the park in Torrey) for a unique place to stay. Guests can reserve comfortable rooms, cabins, or even a traditional teepee. Other great places to stay are The Lodge at Red River Ranch and the Red Sands Hotel & Spa.

Find more hotels and lodges near Capitol Reef

Camping

The Fruita Campground (five minutes south of the visitor center) is the only established campground in the park, offering 71 sites for tents, RVs, and trailers. Primitive camping can be found further into the park at Cathedral Valley Campground and Cedar Mesa Campground. Backcountry campsites are available as well, and require a backcountry permit which can be picked up at the park’s visitor center.

Learn more about camping at Capitol Reef

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Serenity Found in Torrey and Capitol Reef’s Cathedral Valley District

Written by Melissa Fields

5 minute read

Taking Southern Utah’s remote, less-traveled path in Capitol Reef's Cathedral Valley District to nurture your body, mind and spirit.

Southern, Adventure

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Discover the Capitol Reef Region

While it may have been the park’s stunning landscape that called you to visit Capitol Reef, your journey shouldn’t end there. The region surrounding Capitol Reef is peppered with charming small towns, secluded getaways, and rich history. Pick fruit from the blissful orchard in Fruita, or wander aimlessly through a valley full of red rock goblins. No matter what brought you to the park, be sure to make some time to explore the Capitol Reef region.

Discover the Capitol Reef Region

Travel Tips

  • The visitor center is open year-round. Several easy hiking trails and the park’s scenic drive are found near the visitor center. In only a couple hours, you can try a hike like Hickman Bridge or the Grand Wash and examine petroglyph panels left by the Fremont culture along S.R. 24. 

  • With a half-day, add the 8-mile scenic drive past the visitor center and Fruita Historic District. 

  • With a full day, and a high-clearance vehicle, you can explore the bulging uplift of rainbow-hued sandstone “reefs” and canyons of the Waterpocket Fold, or tour the Temples of the Sun and Moon and the rest of Cathedral Valley’s sculptured sandstone monoliths. 

  • During harvest season (June–October, varies based on the fruit) pick your own fruit from the park’s orchards for free. You can take a bag of fruit to go for a nominal fee. After, definitely stop at the Gifford Homestead for a fresh, local pie.

  • With even more time, and the right supplies, request a free backcountry permit and discover yourself amid pristine wilderness.

  • Start hikes early, protect your skin, and take breaks to enjoy the scenery.

  • Capitol Reef is a certified International Dark Sky Park. Fit some stargazing into your itinerary.

  • Connect your visit with Bryce Canyon National Park by driving on the All-American Road: Scenic Byway 12, one of the most beautiful roads in the United States.

  • Read these resources to learn how to travel thoughtfully and experience Capitol Reef National Park most fully.

  • View a downloadable map of Capitol Reef National Park

More travel tips for visiting Capitol Reef

Weather

You’ll experience a combination of mountain and desert climates. From May–October, expect dry, warm weather in the 70°– 80°F range, and significant nighttime dips down to the 40°s. November–March is the coldest time, with daytime temperatures peaking under 50°F in November, 39°F in January and freezing overnight. Hardy travelers, however, will encounter stunning solitude amid snowcapped monoliths.

4 Days

Red Rock & Dark Skies: Stargazing the National Parks

This road trip through southwest Utah takes you to four of Utah’s best places to see the Milky Way — Capitol Reef National Park, Kodachrome Basin State Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and Cedar Breaks National Monument.

Adventure, Solitude, Stargazing

Highlights

See Itinerary

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