Explore the heart of red rock country at Capitol Reef National Park. This national park is a hidden treasure that gives visitors the opportunity to explore sandstone cliffs, slot canyons, domes, and natural bridges. The land has been home to Native Americans for thousands of years. Remnants of these native people from anywhere between 300 and 1300 CE are in the form of petroglyphs along the rock walls and painted pictographs. The petroglyphs can be seen from the Hickman Bridge Trail. In the 1800s, Mormon pioneers and other explorers began to settle the land, planting orchards of pears, peaches, and apples. In order to protect the land’s beautiful canyons, ridges, and wildlife, Franklin D. Roosevelt named the area a national monument in August of 1937. The land was officially named Capitol Reef National Park in 1971. The park now spans over 240,000 acres of land.
There are 15 trails to explore in Capitol Reef National Park. These trails include:
- Capitol Gorge (1 mile) – deep canyon with a short climb to waterpockets.
- Goosenecks (0.1 miles) – jaw-dropping views of the canyons
- Grand Wash (2.2 miles) – deep narrows
- Sunset Point (0.4 miles) – stunning panoramic view that’s perfect for the sunset
- Cohab Canyon (1.7 miles) – hidden canyons with views of the Fruita Rural Historic District
- Fremont River (1 mile) – quiet stroll along the river until steep climb to panorama
- Hickman Bridge (0.9 miles) – 133-foot natural bridge and views of the canyon
- Cassidy Arch (1.7 miles) – natural arch and canyon views
- Chimney Rock Loop (3.6 miles roundtrip) – panoramic views of the Waterpocket Fold cliffs
- Fremont Gorge Overlook (2.3 miles) – ends at viewpoint of gorge rim
- Frying Pan (2.9 miles) – ridgetop panoramas
- Golden Throne (2 miles) – views of Capitol Gorge and Golden Throne
- Navajo Knobs (4.7 miles) – 360-degree mountaintop panorama
- Old Wagon Trail Loop (3.8 miles roundtrip) – travel through Pinyon-juniper forest with views of cliffs and Henry Mountains
- Rim Overlook (2.3 miles) – panoramic views of Fruita and Waterpocket Fold on top of a high cliff
There are several must sees at Capitol Reef National Park. Capitol Dome is a white sandstone formation that has a close resemblance to the U.S. Capitol building. Chimney Rock is a sandstone pillar that reaches 400 feet in height. Hickman Bridge is a 133-foot natural bridge that is named after an advocate that helped in the preservation of the land, Joseph Hickman. The Behunin Cabin was built by Elijah Behunin in 1882. The cabin is made out of red sandstone to blend in with the surrounding environment. Cathedral Valley is located in a remote area on the northern end of Capitol Reef, offering jaw-dropping views of gigantic monoliths that can be hundreds of feet tall. Lastly, there are over 2,500 fruit trees that are planted in the town of Fruita within the park and visitors can eat any fruit they choose. If you plan on staying for multiple days, you have the option to camp at the Fruita, Cathedral Valley, or Cedar Mesa campsites, as well as backcountry camping with a permit.
Explore the heart of red rock country at Capitol Reef National Park.