The average person who visits Capitol Reef only spend one or two days in the park. So, to help you out, we at the Lodge at Red River Ranch have some suggestions for getting the most out of your limited stay. This is our “Best Things to Do in Capitol Reef” list:
Try One of These Hikes – these three hikes are all located in the central part of the park, and each highlight a different, awesome feature of Capitol Reef.
Cassidy Arch – this is one of the best hikes in the entire park. A strenuous incline at the beginning levels out to a sandstone mesa. Across this mesa is the famed Cassidy Arch – named for the legendary outlaw – and a truly breathtaking view. From this vantage point, you can see all the beauty of Capitol Reef unfold before you.
Cohab Canyon – this short, and relatively easy, hike starts near Hickman Bridge and ends near the Gifford House. A short incline leads into the canyon, and as you progress, the canyon gets progressively narrower. Toward the end there are several small slot canyons that branch off the main canyon. (You should definitely explore these.) Cohab Canyon opens to great views of the campground.
Fremont Gorge Overlook Trail – this mostly flat trail will take you across desert prairie to an amazing overlook of the Fremont Gorge – a criminally under-appreciated feature of Capitol Reef. We guarantee that you will be impressed by the gorge. There are steep inclines at the beginning and end of the hike, but the majority of the trail is easy going.
Of course the best way to see what we’re talking about, is to see it on a map. And here is that map.
Please, Please Go to the Waterpocket Fold – we understand that sometimes while on vacation you’ve got a lot of ground to cover. But if you’ve got an extra day to spend in Capitol Reef, we highly recommend going south to the Waterpocket Fold. Here’s what you can do:
The Burr Trail – maybe you’re not up for hiking in the hottest part of the park. And that’s fine, we get that. But you can still see a particularly good section of the Waterpocket Fold by driving the Burr Trail. Start by driving to the town of Boulder Utah, a great drive in-and-of itself, then turn onto the Burr Trail Road. (Don’t worry, it’s very clearly marked.) After that you drive. You’ll get to drive though the seemingly unending desert mesas, into Long Canyon, across the geographic folds that give the region its name, and down an heart-stopping series of switchbacks. After that, you drive back to the main region of Capitol Reef. Go here for a more in-depth article on the Burr Trail.
Brimhall Bridges – this hike is, admittedly, pretty far off the beaten track. It’s probably a full day of driving, hiking, then driving back. And there are a lot of very, very cool trails in the Waterpocket Fold that are closer to the main section of the park. But we recommend going to Brimhall Bridges anyway. The trail starts with a steep descent into a (usually) dry riverbed, you must then enter a canyon that gets pretty narrow in some places. Eventually you will get to see what you came for, the fantastic double bridge.
There are, obviously, a lot of great things to see and do in Capitol Reef National Park. Really, you can’t go wrong with whatever you choose to do – even if it isn’t on our list.