Posted in: Travel on June 11, 2021.
Lots of Options
Capitol Reef is a paradise for those who love red rocks, the outdoors, and lots of hiking. We have easy hikes, hikes for spring, hikes for fall, little known hikes, we have a lot of hikes in Capitol Reef. But maybe you are mobility challenged and can’t hike, or don’t feel like it at the moment. Don’t worry, if that’s the case, there are some great things to see and do in the Capitol Reef area. Here’s what you can do in and around Capitol Reef beyond hiking.
Road Trip on Highway 12
Utah’s Highway 12 Scenic Byway is probably the greatest stretch of road in the state. It’ll lead you from the forests of Boulder Mountain, through the deserts and mesas of the Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument, to the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. There are lots of places to pull out and look at the scenery too, so take your time on this trip. Highway 12 is a fantastic way to see a wide swath of Southern Utah, all without hiking a trail.
Fishing at Fish Lake
Fish Lake is one of the best alpine lakes in the state. And it’s really pretty. Bring (or rent) a boat, find a great spot, and fish the limit. There are also fly-fishing spots along the rivers, plenty of camp sites with various amenities, and lots of nature to admire. Autumn might be the best time to visit, as the aspen trees all turn golden. But any time of the year is amazing at Fish Lake. (You can even go ice-fishing in winter!) It’s a relaxing way to spend a weekend, and you don’t even have to bring hiking boots.
Road Trip through Capitol Reef
You can totally explore the red rock of Capitol Reef without needing to hike. There are three amazing routes in the park to drive. The first is the Scenic Drive, near the Fruita Campground. It’s a toll road that takes you past some of the iconic cliffs of the park, all the way to Capitol Gorge. Look for Cassidy Arch high in the rock as you drive down it. The Cathedral Valley Loop and the Waterpocket Fold/Burr Trail are the two more remote roads in the park. (Check out those links for in-depth guides.) You’ll need a four-wheel drive, high-clearance vehicle to conquer them, but it’s worth the effort!
ATV and Jeep Tours
Need more thrill than just road trips? There are various ATV/Jeep rental companies in the neighborhood that provide tours. (They also teach you how to safely operate off-road vehicles.) These companies will take you to trails in the deserts or mountains where you can enjoy the scenery at top speed. You’ll get to see a lot of cool places, and have a pretty good time doing it. This way, you can see the backcountry, without ever hiking a mile. Our friends at Fremont River Guides can help you get started.