Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park is an American national park located in south-central Utah. The park is approximately 60 miles (97 km) long on its north–south axis but an average of just 6 miles (9.7 km) wide. The park was established in 1971 to preserve 241,904 acres (377.98 sq mi; 97,895.08 ha; 978.95 km2) of desert landscape and is open all year with May through September being the highest visitation months.

Located partially in Wayne County, Utah, the area was originally named “Wayne Wonderland” in the 1920s by local boosters Ephraim P. Pectol and Joseph S. Hickman. Capitol Reef National Park was initially designated a national monument on August 2, 1937, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in order to protect the area’s colorful canyons, ridges, buttes, and monoliths; however, it was not until 1950 that the area officially opened to the public. Road access was improved in 1962 with the construction of State Route 24 through the Fremont River Canyon.

The majority of the nearly 100 mi (160 km) long up-thrust formation called the Waterpocket Fold—a rocky spine extending from Thousand Lake Mountain to Lake Powell—is preserved within the park. Capitol Reef is the name of an especially rugged and spectacular segment of the Waterpocket Fold by the Fremont River. The park was named for whitish Navajo Sandstone cliffs with dome formations—similar to the white domes often placed on capitol buildings—that run from the Fremont River to Pleasant Creek on the Waterpocket Fold. The local word reef refers to any rocky barrier to land travel, just as ocean reefs are barriers to sea travel. – SOURCE

Below are some suggested ways to spend your time. If you have:

One Hour or Two:

  • Stop at the visitor center and watch the park movie, “Watermark”.
  • Take a short hike, such as Hickman Bridge.
  • Tour the Scenic Drive (approximately 90 minutes round trip).
  • Visit the petroglyph panel, historic schoolhouse, or the Gifford House Store and Museum to enjoy freshly baked pie when in season!
  • Pick some delicious fruit when in season.
  • Join a ranger for a program.

One Day:

  • Take a longer hike, such as Cohab Canyon or Chimney Rock.
  • Join a ranger-guided walk, talk, evening program or astronomy program.
  • Become a Junior Ranger. Booklets are available at the visitor center.
  • Borrow a Family Fun Pack and learn about the park through family-oriented games and activities.
  • Tour the North District/Cathedral Valley or the South District/Waterpocket District. Check at the visitor center for current road conditions or call 435-425-3791.

Several Days:

  • Combine several day trip options.
  • Hike the shorter trails and routes in the South/Waterpocket District or North/Cathedral Valley.
  • Enjoy the park’s pristine night sky by stargazing. Night sky charts are available at the visitor center.
  • Backpack into remote areas of the park and experience solitude and quiet. Check for current weather, road, and trail conditions at the visitor center. A free backcountry permit is required for overnight backcountry use.


Never miss a great adventure

Sign up for our blog posts, read up, and never again miss out on another fantastic adventure in Southern Utah!

Please enter a valid email.