hikes in Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park is a fantastic destination for hikers of all ages and abilities. This park has a wide range of trails from easy afternoon strolls to challenging overnight treks and is as beautiful as it is diverse. From the lush Fruita valley to the stark and striking Cathedral district, the trails of Capitol Reef National Park are full of stunning snapshots of the Utah landscape.
The most popular hikes in Capitol Reef National Park can be found in and around the historic Fruita district. Located along the Fremont River, Fruita has been home to many different people throughout history. In this area you can find ancient petroglyphs and pictographs drawn 700-1300 years ago by the Fremont people who are indigenous to this area. You can also hike around the historic mormon settlement established in the late 1800s. The one-room schoolhouse, orchards, and a pioneer homestead from this time still stand today. Other areas you should check out include Cathedral Valley where massive towers and fins of entrada sandstone rise above the desert floor like gothic cathedrals, and Capitol Gorge where pioneers and ancient peoples have left their markings for future generations to find.
10 Amazing Hiking Routes in Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef is home to incredible hiking trails that highlight the unique geology of this area and take you past some incredibly well-preserved pieces of American history. The trails in Captiol Reef National Park range from relaxing pathway strolls just off the highway to hardcore hikes up steep and rugged terrain. Most of the trails in Capitol Reef are moderately challenging and family friendly but there are options for the diehard adventure seeker too. With so many routes to choose from, it can be hard to pick. Check out this list of our favorite hikes in Capitol Reef National Park below:
- The Hickman Bridge Trail: Make your way past Fremont artifacts on the way to the impressive Hickman Bridge: an sandstone arch that spans 133ft and stands 125ft high.
- The Grand Wash Trail: This hike is a family-friendly route through a gorgeous canyon with tons of opportunities for exploration and adventure.
- The Cassidy Arch Trail: This out-and-back route takes you to an impressive arch named after wild west outlaw Butch Cassidy who famously hid from the law out in the Utah desert.
- The Chimney Rock Trail: Hike to an impressive tower of Moenkopi sandstone and take in the panoramic desert views along the way.
- Sulphur Creek Trail: Hike past three beautiful waterfalls and cool your feet as you splash your way down Sulphur Creek.
- The Fruita Trail: Hike through the pioneer town of Fruita and explore the historic buildings that still stand today. Visit Fruita in late summer to pick fresh fruit and nuts from the heirloom orchards along this trail.
- The Golden Throne Trail: Make your way 770ft up to a spectacular viewpoint overlooking Capitol Reef National Park.
- The Capitol Gorge Trail: Hike back into time along this family-friendly trail past ancient petroglyphs and historic pioneer registers. You can even take a side trip off this trail to visit large natural pools that are home to a plethora of aquatic invertebrates.
- The Cohab Canyon Trail: A steep climb and a canyon walk will lead you to stunning viewpoints overlooking Fruita and the desert landscape beyond.
- The Navajo Knobs Trail: This steep and challenging hike will bring you to a summit viewpoint with incredible 360 views of Capitol Reef National Park.
When is the Best Time to Hike in Capitol Reef National Park?
The best time to visit Capitol Reef National Park is in the spring and fall. Summertime is gorgeous out here, but sweltering temperatures and flash flooding during thunderstorms can pose a danger to hikers. Always check the forecast before you hit the trails and dress appropriately. When hiking anywhere in the Utah desert it's always best to wear ample sun protection and bring more water than you think you need. Capitol Reef often gets snow during the winter months that can make the trails wet, mucky, and slippery. If you are visiting in the winter, bring microspikes and appropriate footwear to support your hike.
Other Outdoor Activities in Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef, though known for its hiking, is a great place for a range of activities. On your visit, check out the ranger programs hosted by the National Park Service. The NPS provides geology talks, moonlight tours, and a Junior Ranger program where you can complete a workbook and earn a badge! Horseback riding, cycling, and rock climbing are also budding activities in this park. If you are interested in pursuing one of these other activities, check out the NPS site for information on permits and regulations. In the late summer, the historic orchards of Capitol Reef National Park are open to the public for harvest. Spend the afternoon picking ripe apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, pears, plums, and more!
Fantastic Adventure Tours in Capitol Reef National Park
With so much to explore and discover in Capitol Reach National Park, it can be hard to know where to begin, especially if you are new to the area. If you are looking for some assistance in planning your trip and structuring your time in the southwest, check out our guided tours in Capitol Reef National Park or contact us for more information about adventure travel in beautiful Utah.
Frequently Asked Questions About Capitol Reef National Park
Is Capitol Reef National Park Crowded?
Capitol Reef National Park is one of the less crowded parks in Utah, especially compared to areas like Zion, Arches, or Moab. Certain trails in this park can, however, be crowded in the summer and on weekends in the spring and fall.
Does Capitol Reef National Park get snow?
Capitol Reef National Park usually gets a few inches of snow between late November and early April.
Why is it called Capitol Reef?
Capitol Reef National Park is named for the stretch of sandstone cliffs that run along the waterpocket fold from the Fremont River to Pleasant Creek. This barrier, or Reef, is formed of Navajo sandstone topped with white sandstone domes reminiscent of dome atop the US Capitol building (hence Capitol).
Find other fantastic hiking regions in Utah
- Bryce Canyon National Park
- Moab and Arches National Park
- Salt Lake City
- Uinta Mountains
- Zion National Park
The best hikes in Capitol Reef National Park
Yes, there are more than 10
Capitol Reef National Park is so beautiful that we can not give you only 10 hikes. So here is a list of bonus hikes in Capitol Reef National Park that you should take a look at as well
The Cassidy Arch, Frying Pan, and Cohab Canyon Trail is a fantastic tour of Capitol… Read More
The Grand Wash Trail via Capitol Reef Scenic Drive is a gorgeous hike in Capitol… Read More
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