Top Things to Do in Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park is a breathtaking destination located in southern Utah, offering visitors a unique combination of stunning landscapes, rich history, and outdoor adventures. Spanning over 240,000 acres, this national park provides endless opportunities for exploration and discovery. Here are the top things to do during your visit:
1. Scenic Drives
Capitol Reef National Park boasts various scenic drives that showcase its diverse natural beauty. The most popular route is Highway 24, which cuts through the center of the park. This road offers stunning views of red rock cliffs, towering desert formations, and the famous Waterpocket Fold. Don’t miss the Capitol Gorge Road, a narrow scenic drive that leads you into a deep canyon surrounded by towering cliffs.
2. Hiking and Backpacking
Embark on one of the many hiking trails that wind through the park, catering to different skill levels and interests. The Capitol Gorge Trail takes you through a narrow gorge with impressive rock formations and petroglyphs. For a more challenging adventure, tackle the Cassidy Arch Trail, which rewards hikers with panoramic views of the park from atop a natural sandstone arch.
3. Fruita Historic District
Step back in time and explore the Fruita Historic District, a preserved Mormon settlement that dates back to the late 1800s. Wander through the orchards and pick fresh fruit, which you can purchase and enjoy. Don’t forget to visit the Gifford Homestead, a historic farmhouse, where you can purchase homemade pies and other locally made treats.
4. Camping and Stargazing
Capitol Reef National Park offers several campgrounds where you can immerse yourself in the peacefulness of the park. Wake up to jaw-dropping views, and at night, witness a spectacular display of stars due to the park’s remote location and minimal light pollution. Don’t forget to bring your telescope or binoculars for an even closer look at the night sky.
5. Off-Road Adventures
If you’re seeking a thrilling experience, consider embarking on an off-road adventure within the park. Take a rugged 4×4 trail and explore the Cathedral Valley, known for its massive monoliths and hidden arches. Be prepared for challenging terrain and stunning backcountry scenery that will leave you in awe.
6. Petroglyphs and Fremont Culture
Capitol Reef National Park is home to an abundance of ancient rock art known as petroglyphs. These carvings, created by the Fremont people thousands of years ago, provide a fascinating glimpse into the region’s Native American history. Explore the Petroglyph Panel Trail and marvel at the intricate designs and symbols etched onto the rock surfaces.
For those craving a unique adventure, try canyoneering in Capitol Reef National Park. With its rugged canyons and hidden slot canyons, the park offers an ideal playground for exploring this exhilarating activity. Join a guided canyoneering tour and rappel down sheer sandstone cliffs, squeeze through narrow canyons, and discover secluded waterfalls.
8. Photography Opportunities
Capitol Reef National Park is a photographer’s paradise, offering endless opportunities to capture incredible landscapes and unique geological formations. Whether you’re a professional photographer or a casual enthusiast, be sure to bring your camera and capture the iconic sights like the Goosenecks Overlook, Temple of the Sun, and the dramatic cliffs of the Waterpocket Fold.
9. Horseback Riding
Experience the park from a different perspective by going on a guided horseback ride. Traverse the rugged terrain while enjoying breathtaking views and a sense of tranquility. Horseback riding allows you to explore areas that may be inaccessible by foot and provides a deeper connection with the natural surroundings.
10. Nature Observation
Capitol Reef National Park is teeming with wildlife, making it an ideal destination for nature observation. Keep an eye out for deer, rabbits, coyotes, and a variety of bird species. Immerse yourself in the peacefulness of the park and take time to appreciate the small wonders of nature.
Capitol Reef National Park offers a wealth of activities and experiences for outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs, and nature lovers alike. With its unparalleled beauty and diverse offerings, a visit to this remarkable national park is sure to leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.