Five Easy Hikes in Capitol Reef
Posted in: Nature, Outdoor adventures on May 28, 2021.
Looking for an Easy Weekend?
There are tons of hikes in Capitol Reef National Park. You can choose from the popular day-hikes in the Fruita Area, or you can plan a multi-day trek in the Waterpocket Fold. And lots of these hike are good, strenuous workouts. Which is great if you are looking to work up a sweat and really earn the views at the end of the trail. But sometimes it’s fun to just have a simple, relaxing walk among some beautiful scenery. So we at the Lodge at Red River Ranch made this list of the top five easy hikes in Capitol Reef, just for you.
1. Goosenecks Overlook (0.2 miles roundtrip) and
2. Sunset Point (0.8 miles roundtrip)
Located just across from Chimney Rock trailhead, and just up the hill from the Visitor Center are two of the easiest hikes in the park – Sunset Point and Goosenecks Overlook. Turn off Highway 24 at the marked location, then drive down the dirt road until you reach the parking area for these two hikes. Then hike out to Goosenecks Overlook and check out that canyon! It’s one of the most rewarding views in the park, and it’s soooo easy to get to. Head back to the parking lot and then walk the (slightly longer, but still very easy) trail to Sunset Point. The panorama there is incredible, and doubly so if you arrive at sunset.
3. Grand Wash (2.2 miles one-way)
Grand Wash is a sandy, level, canyon hike that is located off the Scenic Drive – which is the only toll road in Capitol Reef. If you have two vehicles (or if you don’t mind hitching a ride from someone else) you can hike this as a one-way trail. Park a car on either end, and hike between them. Grand Wash is a great summer hike because it gets a lot of shade and stays (relatively) cool. Fun fact: back in the days of the Old West, outlaw Butch Cassidy used to frequent Grand Wash canyon to hide out.
4. Capitol Gorge (2.0 miles roundtrip)
Also accessed by the Scenic Drive, Capitol Gorge is another great canyon hike. It too is level and sandy. And it’s also a good choice during hot weather. After you hike for about a mile down the trail, the gorge widens out, you can choose to hike and additional 0.2 miles to see the “tanks,” natural depressions in the rock that hold rainwater and were used by early settlers as a source of fresh water. This part of the trail is a little more strenuous, so if you want to keep it easy (and hey, that’s what this post is all about!) feel free to just walk in and out of Capitol Gorge.
5. Upper South Desert Overlook (0.2 miles roundtrip) and Cathedral Valley Overlook (0.2 miles roundtrip)
These are two of the best overlooks in the park. And they are super easy trails, short with only mild inclines. They lead to sweeping views of desert monoliths. But they are located in Cathedral Valley, the northernmost section of Capitol Reef. So while these trails are easy, getting to them is a little more complicated. You’ll need a high-clearance vehicle with four wheel drive. If this sounds like your kind of adventure, check out our post detailing Cathedral Valley.