Capitol Reef Itinerary 2017-05-30T18:15:50+00:00

Capitol Reef Itinerary

Welcome to our suggested itinerary for Capitol Reef National Park. We at the Lodge at Red River Ranch have three recommendations for you, depending on how long you plan to be in the area.

How many nights will you be staying?

Itinerary for a 2-Night Stay
Itinerary for a 3-Night Stay
Itinerary for a 5-Night Stay

Two-Night Stay | A Taste of Capitol Reef

Most of our guests only come to Capitol Reef for a couple of days. And we get it, there’s a lot to see in Southern Utah. So here’s how to get the most out of your trip.

Day One – You Have Arrived:

Drive to Capitol Reef
Most people come down from Salt Lake City – it’s the closest airport, after all. The drive should take you about 4-hours.

Visit the Visitor Center for a quick overview of the park
If you get here soon enough in the day, we recommend driving into Capitol Reef, just to get a feel for things. Stop by the Visitor Center, talk to the rangers, and watch their educational film. You can find out more about the Captiol Reef Visitor Center here.

Hike Goosenecks Overlook (Easy | 0.2-miles roundtrip)
On the way out of the park, you should stop at Goosenecks Overlook. It offers beautiful views of Sulphur Creek Canyon far below. It’s a great introduction to Capitol Reef and a very easy hike.

Check in at the Lodge at Red River Ranch or other accommodations

Day Two – The Scenic Road and Cassidy Arch:

Start the day with a good breakfast.
It is the most important meal of the day, after all.

Pack a sack lunch, or stop by Torrey on your way into the park and pick up picnic foods.

Return to Capitol Reef

Drive down the Capitol Reef Scenic Drive
This road will take you further into the park, offering even more spectacular scenery. It’s a toll road and will cost you ten-dollars for a week’s worth of access. There are a couple of offshoots to the main road, one of them will lead you to Cassidy Arch. (The turnoff is clearly marked.)

Hike Cassidy Arch (Moderate | 3.5-miles roundtrip)
This is one of our favorite hikes in the park. A relatively steep climb will lead you to Cassidy Arch – yes, it was named after the outlaw, Butch Cassidy – and stunning views of the park. The trail is moderately strenuous, with a large increase in elevation.

Eat your picnic at the top of Cassidy Arch
Nothing bets a meal with a view. Just remember to bring your trash back with you.

Visit the Gifford House for homemade ice-cream.
The perfect afternoon pick-me-up

Have dinner in Torrey
Check out this page for dining recommendations.

Day Three – Petroglyphs and Hickman Bridge:

Eat some breakfast, pack up, and check out.
There is still time for one last adventure in Capitol Reef.

Stop by the Petroglyphs
About a mile from the visitor center is an impressive collection of Native American rock art (and a few additions by early settlers.) A half-mile boardwalk trail allows for easy viewing.

Hike Hickman Bridge (Moderate | 2-miles roundtrip)
Hickman Bridge is a moderately easy hike located just off the main throughway of the park. Short sections can be steep, but overall the trail is relatively flat. One mile in and you will see a fantastic natural bridge.

Time to head home.
If your path leads you that way, consider taking beautiful Scenic Byway 12 through the Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument for more breathtaking Southern Utah.

Three-Night Stay | All the Hits

The perfect way to experience Capitol Reef, complete with grand overviews, slot canyons, and a healthy dose of hiking.

Day One – You Have Arrived:

Drive to Capitol Reef
Most people come down from Salt Lake City – it’s the closest airport, after all. The drive should take you about 4-hours.

Visit the Visitor Center for a quick overview of the park
If you get here soon enough in the day, we recommend driving into Capitol Reef, just to get a feel for things. Stop by the Visitor Center, talk to the rangers, and watch their educational film. You can find out more about the Captiol Reef Visitor Center here.

Hike Goosenecks Overlook (Easy | 0.2-miles roundtrip)
On the way out of the park, you should stop at Goosenecks Overlook. It offers beautiful views of Sulphur Creek Canyon far below. It’s a great introduction to Capitol Reef and a very easy hike.

Check in at the Lodge at Red River Ranch or other accommodations

Day Two – The Scenic Road and Cassidy Arch:

Start the day with a good breakfast.
It is the most important meal of the day, after all.

Pack a sack lunch, or stop by Torrey on your way into the park and pick up picnic foods.

Return to Capitol Reef

Drive down the Capitol Reef Scenic Drive
This road will take you further into the park, offering even more spectacular scenery. It’s a toll road and will cost you ten-dollars for a week’s worth of access. There are a couple of offshoots to the main road, one of them will lead you to Cassidy Arch. (The turnoff is clearly marked.)

Hike Cassidy Arch (Moderate | 3.5-miles roundtrip)
This is one of our favorite hikes in the park. A relatively steep climb will lead you to Cassidy Arch – yes, it was named after the outlaw, Butch Cassidy – and stunning views of the park. The trail is moderately strenuous, with a large increase in elevation.

Eat your picnic at the top of Cassidy Arch
Nothing bets a meal with a view. Just remember to bring your trash back with you.

Visit the Gifford House for homemade ice-cream.
The perfect afternoon pick-me-up

Have dinner in Torrey
Check out this page for dining recommendations.

Day Three – Petroglyphs and Burro Wash:

Return to Capitol Reef

Stop by the Petroglyphs
About a mile from the visitor center is an impressive collection of Native American rock art (and a few additions by early settlers.) A half-mile boardwalk trail allows for easy viewing.

Drive into the Waterpocket Fold
Continue driving along Highway 24 and enjoy the variety of sandstone which makes Capitol Reef so spectacular. After about 20-minutes, you’ll see the turnoff to the Notom-Bullfrog Road, take this road south. One of the first hikes you will encounter will be Burro Wash.

Hike Burro Wash (Strenuous | 8-miles roundtrip)
Burro Wash is a large canyon system, composed of several “slots” and well as more open regions. There is frequently water to be found in the canyon, which may require wading or swimming. The trail is considered to be moderately strenuous.

Visit the Gifford House for homemade ice-cream (again)

Have dinner in Torrey

Day Four – Chimney Rock and Beyond:

Eat some breakfast, pack up, and check out.
There is still time for one last adventure in Capitol Reef.

Hike Chimney Rock (Moderate | 3.5-miles roundtrip)
Chimney Rock is one of the iconic features of Capitol Reef. And every time you’ve entered the park, you’ve driven past it. The hike will lead you to a wonderful overlook of Chimney Rock, Sulphur Creek Canyon, and the Waterpocket Fold.

Time to head home.
If your path leads you that way, consider taking beautiful Scenic Byway 12 through the Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument for more breathtaking Southern Utah.

Five-Night Stay | See Sights Unseen

This is for the adventurer who wants to see everything. From the lonely monoliths of Cathedral Valley, to the twisting switchbacks of the Burr Trail, this is the Capitol Reef most people miss out on.

Day One – You Have Arrived:

Drive to Capitol Reef
Most people come down from Salt Lake City – it’s the closest airport, after all. The drive should take you about 4-hours.

Visit the Visitor Center for a quick overview of the park
If you get here soon enough in the day, we recommend driving into Capitol Reef, just to get a feel for things. Stop by the Visitor Center, talk to the rangers, and watch their educational film. You can find out more about the Captiol Reef Visitor Center here.

Hike Goosenecks Overlook (Easy | 0.2-miles roundtrip)
On the way out of the park, you should stop at Goosenecks Overlook. It offers beautiful views of Sulphur Creek Canyon far below. It’s a great introduction to Capitol Reef and a very easy hike.

Check in at the Lodge at Red River Ranch or other accommodations

Day Two – The Scenic Road and Cassidy Arch:

Start the day with a good breakfast.
It is the most important meal of the day, after all.

Pack a sack lunch, or stop by Torrey on your way into the park and pick up picnic foods.

Return to Capitol Reef

Drive down the Capitol Reef Scenic Drive
This road will take you further into the park, offering even more spectacular scenery. It’s a toll road and will cost you ten-dollars for a week’s worth of access. There are a couple of offshoots to the main road, one of them will lead you to Cassidy Arch. (The turnoff is clearly marked.)

Hike Cassidy Arch (Moderate | 3.5-miles roundtrip)
This is one of our favorite hikes in the park. A relatively steep climb will lead you to Cassidy Arch – yes, it was named after the outlaw, Butch Cassidy – and stunning views of the park. The trail is moderately strenuous, with a large increase in elevation.

Eat your picnic at the top of Cassidy Arch
Nothing bets a meal with a view. Just remember to bring your trash back with you.

Visit the Gifford House for homemade ice-cream.
The perfect afternoon pick-me-up

Have dinner in Torrey
Check out this page for dining recommendations.

Day Three – Waterpocket Fold and the Burr Trail:

Return to Capitol Reef

Stop by the Petroglyphs
About a mile from the visitor center is an impressive collection of Native American rock art (and a few additions by early settlers.) A half-mile boardwalk trail allows for easy viewing.

Drive into the Waterpocket Fold
Continue driving along Highway 24 and enjoy the variety of sandstone which makes Capitol Reef so spectacular. After about 20-minutes, you’ll see the turnoff to the Notom-Bullfrog Road, take this road south.

Stop at Cedar Mesa Primitive Campground
About an hour after you turn down the Notom-Bullfrog Road, you’ll arrive at this campground. Stop and stretch your legs, have a snack and admire the view.

Drive the Burr Trail Road (62-mile loop)
The Burr Trail is the perfect way to experience the Waterpocket Fold, the southern section of Capitol Reef. There are lots and lots of opportunities to hike and explore, so be sure to stop frequently, take some selfies, and take your time on this fantastic scenic route. Our favorite part? Driving the switchbacks up the mountain.

Take a load off in Boulder
The Burr Trail will spit you out in the town of Boulder Utah. Have something to eat, look around, and stop by the Anasazi State Park Museum for a bit of historical context.

Back to Torrey
The views aren’t over yet. Drive down Boulder Mountain back to Torrey, and stop to look back at the Waterpocket Fold from the scenic overlooks. You just drove through that.

Day Four – Grand Wash and Chill:

Grab picnic supplies in Torrey

Return to Capitol Reef

Hike Grand Wash (2.2-miles one way)
Grand Wash is a fairly easy trail through a deep canyon, with steep cliffs on each side. Stories abound about Butch Cassidy hiding out in this canyon. Consider parking a car on both sides of the trail, to shuttle back and forth.

Picnic in the Campground
Throw a frisbee around, sit in the sun and eat lunch. Just don’t feed the deer.

Visit the Gifford House for homemade ice-cream (again)

Check out the Ripple Rock Nature Center
Learn about the ecosystem of Capitol Reef. Plus kids can join the Junior Ranger Program.

Have some down-time
Check out a gallery or two in Torrey, read a book, or take a nap. Then have a nice dinner and maybe catch a movie.

Day Five – Cathedral Valley:

Return to Capitol Reef

Drive to the Cathedral Valley Loop (57 miles)
It can be a little tricky to find the right turn off, depending on which direction you want to do the loop. We suggest clockwise. Refer to this map for help.

Hike the Upper South Desert Overlook Trail (0.4 mile roundtrip)
This beautiful overlook showcases the remote wonder of the South Desert. It’s an easy walk and is a good chance to stretch your legs at the half-way point.

Drive to the Temples of the Sun and Moon
About three-quarters of the way around the loop, you’ll find the Temple of the Sun and The Temple of the Moon. These lonely sandstone monoliths are the main attractions in Cathedral Valley. They rise dramatically from the surrounding desert, looking like, well, cathedrals. Be sure you have your camera with you.

Complete the loop and back to Torrey
Finish driving through the desert scenery and make it back in time for dinner.

Day Six – On your way:

Eat some breakfast, pack up, and check out.
There is still time for one last adventure in Capitol Reef.

Hike Hickman Bridge (Moderate | 2-miles roundtrip)
Hickman Bridge is a moderately easy hike located just off the main throughway of the park. Short sections can be steep, but overall the trail is relatively flat. One mile in and you will see a fantastic natural bridge.

Time to head home.
If your path leads you that way, consider taking beautiful Scenic Byway 12 through the Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument for more breathtaking Southern Utah. (You’ve already seen some of this when you came down from Boulder, but trust us, it gets even better.)