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Capitol Reef National Park

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Overview

Rising out of the arid desert of southern Utah, Capitol Reef National Park is sure to capture the imagination. Formed through millions of years of geologic processes, the park highlights spectacular sandstone formations, living cryptobiotic soils, and a textbook example of a massive monocline. The Waterpocket Fold is now home to specialized desert plant and animal species in addition to the desert landscapes that are protected within the park. Skyscraping spires, winding canyons, colorful cliffs, and massive domes and arches all make Capitol Reef a one of a kind destination.

To learn more about Capitol Reef, visit www.nps.gov.

Local Info

Visitor Center:
The visitor center is open 8 am to 4:30 pm daily, and is closed on some major holidays. Extended hours exist from the spring through the fall, and more information about seasonal operations can be found here.

Visiting Tips

Capitol Reef is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Even with Capitol Reef's arid climate, inclement weather sometimes causes road closures. For updated weather information, current closures, and up to date information on the park, visit the park's website.

Fees & Passes:
To learn more about park fees, click here.

Camping & Lodging

There is one developed campground and two primitive campgrounds maintained within the Capitol Reef National Park. It is not possible to make reservations for the Fruita Campground, so you'll want to come early as it usually fills by early to mid-afternoon in the spring and the fall. All camping areas in Capitol Reef fill on a first come, first served basis. While each campground is open year-round, it is best to check road reports, as road closures can make reaching a campground impossible.

  • Fruita Campground: Open year round. Potable water is available.
  • Cathedral Valley Campground: Open year round. No potable water available.
  • Cedar Mesa Campground: Open year round. No potable water available.

Backcountry camping is also available. A permit must be obtained from the visitor center during normal business hours. More information on camping in the park, can be found here.

Food & Drink

There are no restaurants or lodges that operate within the park. The Gifford House Store and Museum sells fresh baked goods such as cinnamon rolls, breads, and pies, in addition to ice cream, canned good, chips, and other novelties. Other packaged snacks are also available at the visitor center. There are many dining options available outside of the park. More information about dining in the nearby areas can be found here.

Outfitters, Tours, & Shuttles

Guided Tours:
There are a variety of ranger-led walking tours, evening programs, and astronomy programs. Check at the visitor center or at Capitol Reef's event calendar for more specific information. All programs are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.

REI Adventures:
REI offers over 30 National Park trips, each led by an expert guide capable of taking you off the beaten path. Adventurers are often treated to hidden gems and aspects of the parks that most visitors never see.

Check out REI Adventures' national park offerings here.

Other Activities

Capitol Reef National Park is located near excellent areas for a variety of outdoor activities. When not exploring the park on foot, there are ample opportunities for other non-motorized activities around the park, such as trail running, mountain biking, and rock climbing. There are also many areas where motorized activities such as dirt biking, rock crawling, and ATV riding are popular as well.

Maps & Guidebooks

The definitive guidebook is "Capitol Reef National Park - The Complete Hiking and Touring Guide", by Rick Stinchfield. All proceeds benefit Capitol Reef Natural History Association.

A variety of guidebooks, pamphlets, and brochures are available at the parks website to help plan your trip.

Gems in Capitol Reef National Park - 8

Hiking Project is built by hikers like you. Add Your Gems

gem Favorite Hickman Bridge from underneath

Hickman Natural Bridge

(22) Loa, UT
gem Favorite Reaching the top and a full view of Cassidy Arch.

Cassidy Arch

(13) Loa, UT
gem Favorite Frolicking through Fruita's famous orchards beside the Fremont River Trail.

Fruita Orchards

(17) Loa, UT
gem Favorite Panorama Point, Capital Reef.

Mummy Cliff from Panorama Point

(6) Loa, UT
gem Favorite The far right end of the overlook.

Strike Valley Overlook

(5) Escalante, UT
gem Favorite You just can't beat Capitol Reef, named after the dome ("Capitol Dome"), which resembles the Capitol building.

Capitol Dome

(10) Loa, UT
gem Favorite No Photos

Halls Creek Narrows

(1) Escalante, UT
gem Favorite Walk along the gorge to truly experience the towering sandstone walls.

Pioneer Register

(6) Loa, UT

Recommended Routes in Capitol Reef National Park - 8

Hiking Project is built by hikers like you. Add Your Recommended Routes

Favorite Cassidy Arch in front of the beautiful Grand Wash
Intermediate/Difficult

Cassidy Arch

3.2 mi 5.1 km 734' Up 223.63 m Up 732' Down 223.21 m Down

Loa, UT
Favorite Mummy Cliff from Navajo Nobs
Intermediate/Difficult

Navajo Knobs Out and Back

9.2 mi 14.9 km 1,892' Up 576.78 m Up 1,892' Down 576.77 m Down

Loa, UT
Favorite Post hike to Strike Valley Overlook. Hiking back through the canyon wash access road to the vehicle.
Intermediate/Difficult

Strike Valley Overlook and Upper Muley Twist Canyon

15.8 mi 25.4 km 1,344' Up 409.68 m Up 1,344' Down 409.61 m Down

Escalante, UT
Favorite This area has a large rock obstacle that, during a wet season, will have a puddle at the bottom to traverse before the small ascent.
Difficult

Burro Wash

6.6 mi 10.7 km 552' Up 168.33 m Up 552' Down 168.34 m Down

Loa, UT
Favorite Hiker's enjoying the Capitol Gorge Trail. Photo credit: NPS/Jacob Frank.
Easy/Intermediate

Capitol Gorge Trail

4.7 mi 7.5 km 222' Up 67.65 m Up 222' Down 67.56 m Down

Loa, UT
Favorite Waterpocket Fold from the Post Cutoff Trail. with permission from walkaboutwest *No Commercial Use
Intermediate

Lower Muley Twist Canyon Loop

15.4 mi 24.9 km 1,051' Up 320.29 m Up 1,051' Down 320.33 m Down

Escalante, UT
Favorite Halls Creek Overlook.
Intermediate/Difficult

Halls Creek and Narrows Route (Grand Gulch)

23.7 mi 38.2 km 2,455' Up 748.3 m Up 2,456' Down 748.52 m Down

Escalante, UT
Favorite Cathedral Valley, Capitol Reef National Park
Easy/Intermediate

Cathedrals Trail

2.4 mi 3.9 km 313' Up 95.31 m Up 313' Down 95.27 m Down

Loa, UT

Capitol Reef National Park Hiking

  • 195 Miles 314 Kilometers of Trail
  • 8 Recommended Routes
  • 8 Gems Gems
  • 13 Easy Trails Easy Trails
  • 27 Intermediate Trails Intermediate Trails
  • 3 Difficult Trails Difficult Trails
Hiking Project is built by hikers like you. Share what you know about this area!

Areas Within Capitol Reef National Park

Weather Averages


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Trails in Capitol Reef National Park - 35

Hiking Project is built by hikers like you. Add Your Trails

1.0 mi 1.6 km #1Hickman Bridge
Intermediate
Loa, UT
Intermediate
Loa, UT 30 
0.5 mi 0.7 km #2Strike Valley Overlook Trail
Intermediate
Loa, UT
Intermediate
Loa, UT
1.9 mi 3.1 km #3Rim Overlook Trail
Intermediate/Difficult
Loa, UT
Intermediate/Difficult
Loa, UT
5.8 mi 9.3 km #4Sulphur Creek
Intermediate/Difficult
Loa, UT
Intermediate/Difficult
Loa, UT 12 
1.4 mi 2.2 km #5Cassidy Arch Trail
Difficult
Loa, UT
Difficult
Loa, UT
2.8 mi 4.5 km #6Frying Pan Trail
Intermediate/Difficult
Loa, UT
Intermediate/Difficult
Loa, UT 11 
1.6 mi 2.5 km #7Cohab Canyon Trail
Intermediate
Loa, UT
Intermediate
Loa, UT 12 
3.1 mi 4.9 km #8Chimney Rock Trail
Intermediate
Loa, UT
Intermediate
Loa, UT 13 
2.4 mi 3.8 km #9Grand Wash Trail
Easy/Intermediate
Loa, UT
Easy/Intermediate
Loa, UT 18 
8.0 mi 12.9 km #10Upper Muley Twist Canyon Trail
Difficult
Escalante, UT
Difficult
Escalante, UT

Photos of Capitol Reef National Park - 314

Hiking Project is built by hikers like you. Add Your Photos

Headed back from the Lower South Desert Overlook. Photo credit: NPS/Travis Lovell.
Sep 6, 2016 near Loa, UT
I find the boulder wedged in here adds to the interest.
Jan 14, 2020 near Loa, UT
Burr Trail Road, Capitol Reef
Feb 19, 2016 near Escalante, UT
Reaching the top and a full view of Cassidy Arch.
Apr 24, 2016 near Loa, UT
Cassidy Arch in front of the beautiful Grand Wash
Nov 1, 2019 near Loa, UT
Capitol Reef National Park
Feb 19, 2016 near Loa, UT
Overlooking Fruita from the Cohab Canyon Trail.
Sep 2, 2016 near Loa, UT
Post hike to Strike Valley Overlook. Hiking back through the canyon wash access road to the vehicle.
Apr 20, 2016 near Loa, UT