United States Utah

Capitol Reef National Park

A national park in Utah featuring a unique Waterpocket Fold, red rock formations, cliffs, canyons, and early Mormon pioneer history.

Tips from the community

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 3 years ago

Stretching across the heart of the Beehive State in a 60-mile spread of Western-worthy outback is Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park. It’s named for the peaked domes of Navajo sandstone that loom like the tops of US capitol buildings throughout the preserve. Capitol Reef National Park is a treasure trove of geological wonders that dates back over 65 million years. The park is home to a unique collection of geological formations, including domes, cliffs, canyons, and arches. The park’s most iconic feature is the Waterpocket Fold, a massive geological formation that stretches for 100 miles and rises up to 7000 feet above sea level. The Waterpocket Fold is a unique feature, as it is a monocline, meaning that it has a single slope that forms a steep incline.

jrfrancis 6 months ago

If you're feeling extra adventurous, I certainly recommend a day trip to Capitol Reef National Park! This is the closest National Park to Salt Lake City, but the drive is still three hours each way. The entry fee is $20, but honestly, the number of scenic highways and overlooks you'll encounter along the way, makes it worth every penny. Plus, crossing another National Park off the bucket list? Yes, please! ✈ To stretch your legs from the long drive, I recommend the Hickman Bridge Trail. In under two miles, you'll feel as if you were transported to another planet!

paige 1 year ago

A favorite — hiking, birding, historic Fruita tour, biking

lwithrow 3 years ago

Capitol Reef National Park Guides

Capitol Reef National Park Articles

  • List of All 63 National Parks in the US by State | 2023

    From swivel chairs to space rockets, the US has had some darn bright ideas over its short history. But of all the ideas that have changed the world, the national parks system is surely close to the top. It was way back in 1872 that the sulfur-belching lands of Yellowstone were designated as protected lands […]

    Read more...
  • Arches National Park: The Complete Guide for 2023

    Nestled in the heart of Utah’s breathtaking red rock country lies a wonderland of soaring sandstone formations, enchanting slot canyons, and endless vistas. Welcome to Arches National Park, where the forces of wind and water have sculpted a landscape of otherworldly beauty. With over 2,000 natural stone arches, towering spires, and massive fins, this iconic […]

    Read more...
  • 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 […]

    Read more...
  • Bryce Canyon National Park: The Complete Guide for 2023

    As if the word hoodoo isn’t cool enough, the park where you can find these towering geologic creations is even cooler. Hoodoo means “to bewitch,“ which is the exact effect that Bryce Canyon’s whimsical rock formations and winding trails will have on you. Bryce Canyon National Park is a treasure trove for those who like […]

    Read more...
  • Zion National Park: The Complete Guide for 2023

    If you love: crying out of sheer happiness, seeing something so beautiful that you take 80 pictures of basically the same thing, and the Milky Way, Zion National Park is the place for you. From extreme hikes for those who don’t mind heights to leisurely paved strolls along the Virgin River, at this uber-famous Utah national […]

    Read more...