United States Utah

Capitol Reef National Park

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Just 2 hours west of Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, Capitol Reef offers a rugged oasis of red rock arches, sheer cliffs, and unbelievable bridges all along a geologic wonder called the Waterpocket Fold. This 100-mile wrinkle in the earth is some 7,000 feet higher to the west than to the east and is the defining feature of Capitol Reef, best viewed on the park’s classic Scenic Highway 24 down to the uniquely golden Navajo Sandstone mountain aptly known as the “Golden Throne.”  For visitors looking for a low-key drive through canyon country, Capitol Reef’s scenic highway may be the best way to check out Utah’s grandeur. But the route is just about the only paved section of the park. More adventurous hikers won’t be disappointed by the park’s trail offerings, like Burr Trail, which crosses the Waterpocket Fold and intersects with the popular trail loop along the scenic highways and Notom-Bullfrog Road. At any given point along the hike, trekkers are likely to happen upon slot canyons and backcountry trails. Three of the most popular slot canyons that can be accessed from Notom-Bullfrog Road are Burro Wash, Cottonwood Wash, and Sheets Gulch. Capitol Reef will make modern-day hikers feel like real explorers. The park is full of unique pioneer history that’s still accessible to this day. Visitors can visit Fruita Campground to find (and freely pick from) a whole lush orchard area of fruit trees planted by 19th-century pioneers, purchase goods made with that same fresh fruit at a little country store on site, or settle in to watch the sunset along banks of the Fremont River. Whatever you do, you’ll find a beautiful scenery of red cliffs. While Capitol Reef rings in last on this list, it’s surely not the least and shouldn’t be missed.

savannah.whitmer 2 years ago

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  • Utah’s National Parks: Ranked

    Now more than ever, national parks offer a much-needed breath of fresh air. Author, Arches National Park Ranger, and environmental advocate Edward Abbey said it best: “We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope.” The US state that Abbey himself escaped to? Well, that would be Utah, of course. Utah boasts […]