Capitol Reef is an epic playground. It’s got everything that an outdoor enthusiast could possibly want. Narrow slot canyons? Check. Sweeping vistas? Check. Arches and natural bridges? Check. Heck, Capitol Reef even has pay-to-pick fruit orchards! We can’t think of better place to hang out this summer. And if you’re wondering what you should do in Capitol Reef first, we’ve made a quick guide for a perfect weekend in the park. It’s the Lodge at Red River Ranch’s Capitol Reef Adventure.
Stop by the Capitol Reef Visitor Center to get your bearings. There’s a short educational video that will briefly describe the history of the park. Check that out. Then grab one of the free trail maps.
There are lots of very cool hikes in the park. We usually recommend that you do Cassidy Arch first. It’s a relatively short hike (about 4-miles) and is only moderately strenuous. Plus the views from the top of both the arch and the Waterpocket Fold are intensely beautiful. Cassidy Arch is located on the scenic route of the park – which has a small toll.
If you’re pressed for time, a good alternative hike is Cohab Canyon. It’s short, easy, and comes complete with narrow side canyons.
Hit up the Gifford House afterward. The Gifford House is part museum, part food shop. There are lots of homemade treats to tempt you. Nearby are some of the fruit orchards that make Capitol Reef so unique. And if it’s the right time of year, you can harvest some of fruit for yourself. It’s June now, which means apricots.
The majority of Capitol Reef is a vast stretch of wilderness to the north and south of the Visitor Center. If you go north, you can explore Cathedral Valley. And if you go south, the Waterpocket Fold. We encourage you to experience these wild, desert areas. To us, these mostly untraveled sections are the real stars of Capitol Reef – a place where you can still get lost (metaphorically speaking of course.)
Hopefully this short list is enough to make you want to get out and play in the world’s best playground – Capitol Reef.