The Complete Capitol Reef Trip
Night owls rejoice! This remote region offers stunning displays well into the night.
Exploring The Capitol Reef Region
The Capitol Reef region of Utah, spread out over the center of the state, offers a breadth of activities as wide as the vistas painted against every horizon. Travelers looking to find some solitude, even during peak season, will be rewarded for their decision to pull off the interstate and explore spaces between the beaten paths.
Capitol Reef National Park is defined by The Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile wrinkle in the Earth’s crust that runs all the way from Thousand Lake Mountain in the northwest corner of the park to Lake Powell on the Arizona border. This geological feature has lifted the western portion of the fold over 7,000 feet above the eastern side, offering visitors stunning overlooks, carved over eons and stretching for miles.
Capitol Reef is an official International Dark Sky Park. The park and the surrounding areas are home to some of the darkest skies in the world. Clear, cold nights offer up incredible views of the Milky Way Galaxy, so it’s worth setting an alarm in the dead of night to peek out your tent or hotel window to marvel in the cosmos.
There’s more to Capitol Reef than stellar views and ancient sandstone. Throughout the region are opportunities to get a glimpse at what life was like way back when, as well as get a greater understanding of our impact on the world around us. From abandoned Mormon outposts in the heart of the national park, to unearthed Fremont Indian villages and petroglyphs, the history of this region of Utah is as much human as it is geologic.
Despite its seemingly remote location, the Capitol Reef region still boasts plenty of amenities. From luxury resorts in Torrey, to well-maintained campgrounds at nearly every stop, you’ll be able to explore the rough-hewn landscape without having to rough it yourself.
- Start: From Salt Lake City, drive roughly two hours south east to Helper
- End: From the Fremont Indian State Park head back to Salt Lake City, or extend your stay
- Hours of Driving: 12+ hours, including travel between the region and Salt Lake City
10 Top Stops Along the National Pioneer Mormon Heritage Area
Here are 10 of the best stops along Utah's Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area’s backroads and byways. Explore rich Mormon historic sites, awe-inspiring canyons and mountains and unforgettable outdoor adventures.
15 Non-Technical Slot Canyons
You don’t have to be Spider-Man to explore some of the best slot canyons Utah has to offer. You just need to be ready for an adventure in tight spaces with huge photographic rewards
7 Utah Artisan Cheeses to Try Now
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8 Utah Hikes for Leaf Peeping and Natural Splendor
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A Van Lifer’s Guide to Responsible Travel in Southern Utah
When Utah’s dirt roads are calling you, it’s time to plan your van life road trip. Here’s what you need to know to travel safely, protect Utah’s rural communities, and help preserve sensitive desert landscapes.
Across a Snow-Covered Desert
Follow this itinerary for a week-long winter road trip across the snow-covered desert of Southeastern Utah.
Alpine Fishing Above the Red Rock Landscapes of Southern Utah
Sitting just outside of Capitol Reef National Park, this 11,000-foot peak offers views of the surrounding red canyons and desert-like region. In contrast, Boulder Mountain is heavily forested and home to more than 80 lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. With an average rainfall multiple inches more than the lower regions, the area makes for some surprisingly good fishing.
An Insider’s Guide to Torrey
Look no further than Capitol Reef National Park and nearby Torrey for lesser-traveled red-rock hikes, plenty of lodging options, satisfying dining and night sky as our ancestors knew it.
Artisan Cheese in Red Rock Country
Two decades ago, Randy Ramsley traded his Dockers-and-tie city job for a 50 acre plot of land that he called a “Garden of Weedin” and the dream of establishing a sustainable farmstead. Now travelers from all over the globe know the small market and counter-service restaurant at Mesa Farm as a refreshing “must-do” respite seemingly plunked in the middle of nowhere on Highway 24 east of Capitol Reef National Park.
Dark Skies in Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park in Utah is a designated International Dark Sky Park. Make plans to come see the most magnificent night sky ever!
Hiking the Desert in Capitol Reef National Park
Meet the Women Leading Utah's Food and Beverage Renaissance
When it comes to food and beverage in Utah, there are key influencers who have been the proponents of change, growth, and the role of women in Utah’s food scene.
Mesa Farm Market
Best local shops and healthy eats near Moab and Capitol Reef. Try the goat cheese!
Moonscapes, Marscapes and More
If you want to know what Mars looks like — then the dramatic terrain of Capitol Reef National Park and the surrounding lands are a good place to start.
Permit of Solitude
Watch this video of a guided experience canyoneering in the remote Robbers Roost. Find a guide to take you canyoneering in Utah.
Searching for Dinosaur Bones in Capitol Reef Country
The Hanksville-Burpee Dinosaur Quarry dates back to the Jurassic Period and is approximately 150 feet wide by 600 feet long. Hundreds of dinosaur bones have been discovered here, including those of the Stegosaurus, Brontosaurus and Brachiosaurus.
See the Fall Leaves Near Utah's National Parks
Sure, any of Utah’s Mighty 5 national parks are spectacular year round — covered in snow, peppered with spring wildflowers, and baked in sunshine. But find them exponentially special when the changing fall leaves are in juxtaposition to the immaculate red rock cliffs.
Serenity Found in Torrey and Capitol Reef’s Cathedral Valley District
Taking Southern Utah’s remote, less-traveled path in Capitol Reef's Cathedral Valley District to nurture your body, mind and spirit.
The All-American Road: Scenic Byway 12
This is 122.863 miles (to be exact) of pure driving bliss. Welcome to Utah’s Scenic Byway 12, a designated All-American Road.
The Return to Robbers Roost
Are you intrigued by the old American West legend involving Robbers Roost? Want to find an alleged hideout of the infamous Butch Cassidy and Gang? Explore Utah.
Top 10 Family-Friendly Hikes in Utah National Parks
With so many destinations, and so many trails, it can be difficult to decide where to begin in Utah's Mighty 5® national parks. Here are 10 family-friendly hikes, two per national park, you cannot miss.
Thanks to it’s location eight miles from Capitol Reef National Park, this remote enclave is a great place to stop for some coffee, ice cream or dinner on your way in or out of the park.
Traveling with Dogs: The Mighty 5 National Parks
At all of The Mighty 5® national parks, activities with pets are extremely limited, and every time your dog is out of your vehicle, it must be restrained in a crate, cage, or on a leash (of no more than 6 feet).
Utah’s Unexpected Pit Stops
You’re doing it wrong if you think road trip pit stops are boring layovers on your way to more exciting destinations. How many of these hidden gems have you been to? Here are 11 mini-adventures to check off your list next time you’re road-tripping through Utah.
Winter Road Trip: Where to Stay, Hike and Eat When Traveling from Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon
Need winter break ideas? Take a road trip from Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon and enjoy the best of Utah landscapes during its quiet season.