Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, USA

You will drive right through Capitol Reef National Park as you drive across Utah on your Big 5 National Parks tour. Driving through this beautiful park is FREE and can provide fun for the whole family. Whether you have a few hours or a few days, Capitol Reef has a rich history as well as beautiful trails to explore.

This is a very interesting and unique park rich in history, geology, and adventure. A true hidden treasure in the heart of red rock country; the Waterpocket Fold, a geologic monocline extending 100 miles wide, is filled with cliffs, canyons, domes, and bridges for you to explore.

Accommodations Near and In Capitol Reef.

Fruta Campground is an oasis within the desert along the Fremont River. They offer 64 RV/Tent sites each including firepits and picnic tables. Seven additional walk-in sites with a grill and a picnic table provide extra room for visitors. There is an RV dump and potable water fill station near the entrance to Loops A and B. Restrooms feature running water and flush toilets, but no showers. Accessible sites are located adjacent to restrooms. The nightly fee is $20 and check-out is at 11:00 AM.

There are tons of RV parks, campgrounds, and lodging to the west of the park entrance. We stayed at Sunglow Campground which was practically empty, cheap, and absolutely stunning. We had beautiful scenery, a more than acceptable restroom, and freshwater; the stargazing was a phenomenal addition to an amazing campsite just about 10 minutes from the park’s entrance and 5 minutes from restaurants, a general store, and a post office. We were also informed of some BLM land just outside of the East entrance that you may also be interested in.

The History and Culture of Capitol Reef National Park

The lush landscape of the Capitol Reef Area has been home to numerous archaic and settlers throughout the years who have migrated through the canyons. Fremont Culture solidified around 500 CE when food foraging groups began to incorporate farming into their lives. Petroglyphs etched into rock walls alongside painted pictographs remain as sacred remnants of an ancient saga. Explorers, Mormon pioneers, and other groups arrived in the 1800s, settling in what is now the Fruita Rural Historic District. They planted and nurtured orchards of apples, pears, and peaches which you can still pick today. Stop by and pick the juiciest fruit from the shores of the Fremont River (BRING YOUR BUG SPRAY)!

The National Park Service preserves the culture of those who came before them through ranger programs, audio clips, and the protection of historic buildings and other structures. Don’t forget to stop by the 1908 Gifford Homestead to experience a museum-like still-life of early Mormon pioneer days; the best time for pie is 8:00 A.M. but you can also chow on homemade scones, fresh ice cream, jellies, and dried fruit.

Capital Reef if Full of Interesting Geology.

The geologic story of Capitol Reef can be broken down into three steps. Each of these steps occurred over the course of millions of years: deposition, uplift, and erosion. The Waterpocket Fold is unique in that the ongoing erosion of sandstone layers is caused by water. The erosion of tilted rock forms creates the colorful cliffs, massive domes, soaring spires, stark monoliths, twisting canyons, and graceful arches that are found throughout Capitol Reef National Park.

Just look at all of this geology!

Hiking Through Capital Reef National Park.

There are a number of Day Hiking options and backcountry hikes available throughout the park. Whether you’re driving through on route 24 or heading south down Notom-Bullfrog road towards Headquarters Canyon, you will find adventure for every skill level. As a result, you may want to plan on spending multiple days at this normally overlooked park!

TRAIL: Goosenecks Overlook

DIFFICULTY: Very Easy  

DESCRIPTION: A short walk off of Highway 24 will provide dramatic canyon views with Sulphur Creek winding below.

Image Via TripAdvisor

TRAIL: Hickman Bridge  

DIFFICULTY: Moderate  

DESCRIPTION: Just under a two-mile round trip will bring you to a 133-foot natural bridge with stunning canyon views. This photo is from up above the bridge along the Canyon Overlook .

TRAIL: Sulphur Creek  

DIFFICULTY: Moderate/Difficult  

DESCRIPTION: Follow this meandering stream 5.8 miles down from the trailhead at Chimney Rock on Utah 24. This trail passes through scenic narrows, known as the Goosenecks, and down three waterfalls before emerging conveniently at the visitor center. Bypassing the falls does require the ability to scramble down 12-foot ledges; the route nearly always requires walking in shallow water. It is not uncommon for there to be much deeper water that might even require swimming. Because this is not a roundtrip or out and back style hike, you will need to leave a shuttle vehicle at your endpoint. If you don’t have this option, you will have to hike the 3 miles back along the road Please keep an eye on the weather, flash floods can kill.

Image via Backcountrypost.com

TRAIL: Rim Overlook  

DIFFICULTY: Strenuous  

DESCRIPTION: A five-mile RT, uphill trail that will bring you past the for Hickman Bridge and to a gorgeous panorama view of the Fremont River and the Visitor Center below. Tie the Hickman Bridge Trail into your day for an extra route!


Don’t Let This Lesser-Known Park Go Unseen

This park is such a hidden gem amidst so much desert. Lush river beds with orchards full of sweet, juicy fruit meet steep, red and white layered canyon walls full of history; it’s unlike no other places I’ve seen. Be sure to take the scenic drive! Although a majority of the park is free to visit, the 8.3-mile scenic drive costs $5 per vehicle and not only provides stunning roadside views but also access to two of the park’s most popular hiking trails.

Published by expeditioneducation

Hi there, I'm Kati! I'm an outdoor recreation loving public school teacher who plans epic adventures on her school breaks. If you like to explore and experience beautiful new places on a budget, then let me help you plan your next trip!

22 thoughts on “Capitol Reef National Park

  1. I want to explore this place so much! You gave me the right motivation, also because I’ve never hear about it before. Thanks for sharing your experience!! – Paolo

    1. expeditioneducation – Hello! My name is Kati. I am currently a Middle School Teacher and three season sports coach in upstate New York. If you take a look at my blog you will learn that I love being outside, exploring places near and far, and aspire to create this website into something that inspires others to connect with what's around them. My hope is that you read something here that inspires you to learn more and challenge yourself every day. Don't be afraid to leave your comfort zone for that is where true growth​ begins! Thank you so much for reading!
      expeditioneducation says:

      Love you Uncle Jimmy! See you soon!

      & it’s an awesome park.

    1. expeditioneducation – Hello! My name is Kati. I am currently a Middle School Teacher and three season sports coach in upstate New York. If you take a look at my blog you will learn that I love being outside, exploring places near and far, and aspire to create this website into something that inspires others to connect with what's around them. My hope is that you read something here that inspires you to learn more and challenge yourself every day. Don't be afraid to leave your comfort zone for that is where true growth​ begins! Thank you so much for reading!
      expeditioneducation says:

      I’m glad you enjoy it!

    1. expeditioneducation – Hello! My name is Kati. I am currently a Middle School Teacher and three season sports coach in upstate New York. If you take a look at my blog you will learn that I love being outside, exploring places near and far, and aspire to create this website into something that inspires others to connect with what's around them. My hope is that you read something here that inspires you to learn more and challenge yourself every day. Don't be afraid to leave your comfort zone for that is where true growth​ begins! Thank you so much for reading!
      expeditioneducation says:

      it’s quite the charming little nugget!

    1. expeditioneducation – Hello! My name is Kati. I am currently a Middle School Teacher and three season sports coach in upstate New York. If you take a look at my blog you will learn that I love being outside, exploring places near and far, and aspire to create this website into something that inspires others to connect with what's around them. My hope is that you read something here that inspires you to learn more and challenge yourself every day. Don't be afraid to leave your comfort zone for that is where true growth​ begins! Thank you so much for reading!
      expeditioneducation says:

      I hope you do too!!

  2. This is a beautiful place! I am always amazed at all of the different places and places that I hadn’t heard of before. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Going to Utah is high on my travel Bucket List. It has so many amazing parks to offer! I love the picture of the waterfall for the Sulphur Creek trail. My husband and I love going to National Parks for vacations (Yellowstone, Glacier, Rocky Mountain, and Denali are the four we’ve crossed off so far). I’m craving another trip, so maybe I’ll have to pitch Utah to him 😉

    1. expeditioneducation – Hello! My name is Kati. I am currently a Middle School Teacher and three season sports coach in upstate New York. If you take a look at my blog you will learn that I love being outside, exploring places near and far, and aspire to create this website into something that inspires others to connect with what's around them. My hope is that you read something here that inspires you to learn more and challenge yourself every day. Don't be afraid to leave your comfort zone for that is where true growth​ begins! Thank you so much for reading!
      expeditioneducation says:

      Oh do it! Next Sunday my full itinerary for all 5 national parks in one trip will be published. It was an AMAZING trip.

  4. Mr. Straight and Narrow – If anyone was to tell me what my life would look like at this age, I would have run away screaming. Well maybe laughing. OK, possibly in stunned silence. Has anyone run away in stunned silence before? I wonder what that would look like. But I digress. So who am I? I am a middle aged white guy who isn't balding. Wait . . . that describes half the white guy population? Hmmm. . . . In truth I am just a guy trying to make his way on the planet just like everyone else. And ultimately share some of life’s adventures with people. Because somehow an adventure doesn’t feel like it happened unless someone else knows. Be honest, we’ve all asked the question if a tree falls in the forest and doesn’t make a sound, does it really fall. Because it’s at that moment of impact that the tree falling has meaning. And so does life. As we impact those around use is when our life takes shape. I won’t always do it perfectly. But to be perfectly imperfect and be vulnerable is the key. And so here I am, sharing life’s adventures and those rules along with you. There is a path out there for all of us. We just have to find out. And hopefully my sharing my path helps you with yours.
    toastycritic says:

    It looks like there are some amazing hikes out there. I didn’t realize about this one and had never heard of this place before now. I will definitely have to take a visit in the near future.

    1. expeditioneducation – Hello! My name is Kati. I am currently a Middle School Teacher and three season sports coach in upstate New York. If you take a look at my blog you will learn that I love being outside, exploring places near and far, and aspire to create this website into something that inspires others to connect with what's around them. My hope is that you read something here that inspires you to learn more and challenge yourself every day. Don't be afraid to leave your comfort zone for that is where true growth​ begins! Thank you so much for reading!
      expeditioneducation says:

      Right! I didn’t think it was in Utah – I was thinking something more coastal with that name.

  5. This is so beautiful! Maybe when the kids are a bit older, we will include trekking and hiking in our family travel itineraries. 😀

    1. expeditioneducation – Hello! My name is Kati. I am currently a Middle School Teacher and three season sports coach in upstate New York. If you take a look at my blog you will learn that I love being outside, exploring places near and far, and aspire to create this website into something that inspires others to connect with what's around them. My hope is that you read something here that inspires you to learn more and challenge yourself every day. Don't be afraid to leave your comfort zone for that is where true growth​ begins! Thank you so much for reading!
      expeditioneducation says:

      for sure! Don’t count out the short trips while they’re young, kids are total troopers outside.

  6. Alexithymia_Shubhi – Note: Because of some WordPress Support issue, some parts of the site presentation is not controlled by me and is unchangable. I believe: “Things are destined to happen. People are destined to meet. Meanwhile, fate cannot stop playing its role.” I write articles based on common people lives. I use simple words because I don’t want my readers to open the dictionary every now and then. The Blogs represented here falls under the categories of own experiences or the experiences of other’s life, fictional stories, poetry, thoughts, art and business ideas along with the plan. I have also covered up the guidelines for becoming a Blogger and monetization(ways of earning) through it. Once in a while, I am a Trainer and developer. Guitar and Photography are my hobbies. I create Sketching/Drawing as a mental therapy and expressing thoughts/reality. I am a passionate writer to express my thoughts through my observance. Languages known : English, German, Hindi, Marathi, Kannada. Experience: -I have worked as a content writer for others. -Computer Trainer -Online Language Teacher -Script Writer Career: I appreciate job offers related to writing in any of these niches: Travel, Technology, Programming, Psychology, Lifestyle, Mental/Physical wellness, Business. In case you need any help regarding blogging, you can always contact me. For queries and messages and social media page, click here Contact Us. If you like my blog post then do not forget to click on the Follow/Subscribe button for future updates. Thank you so much for stopping by 🙂 See you again !!! If you ever find hatred comment by me on any posts, it is edited by the owner of that blog. I leave positive comments on all articles. 🙂 For more information, please read: Suprised with the WordPress Feature
    Alexithymia_Shubhi says:

    I like the short falls in between the rocks. I would like to visit this adventurous place.

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