Let’s Go Hiking!
There are lots of trails worth exploring in Capitol Reef National Park. Some are multi-day adventures, like Lower Mulley Twist, but the majority can be done in a day. So let’s look at and rank some of our favorite day hikes in the park. This is the 5 Top Day Hikes in Capitol Reef!
Number 5: Capitol Gorge –
(Moderate | 2.2 – 5.4 miles out-and-back | 1.5 – 4 hours)
Located on the Scenic Route, this is an easy trail that meanders through a gorge. Often shady thanks to its high walls, it makes for a great summer trail. Capitol Gorge was once a road, and until the construction of Highway 24, it was the only safe way through the area now known as Capitol Reef. There are lots of markings of its history, like petroglyphs and old automobile parts, to be found there. Most notably are a series of “tanks,” used by settlers to collect water during the rainy season.
Here is a great guide by LiveAndLetHike.com on everything you can expect to see on the Capitol Gorge Trail.
Number 4: Cohab Canyon –
(Moderate | 1.7 – 2.9 miles one-way | 1 – 2.5 hours)
This is another great canyon hike! More narrow in places, with lots of little side canyons that you can explore. Plus, there is a single, giant hoodoo at about the mid-way point of the trail. Since this trail connects the two main roads in the park, it’s best to that arrange a shuttle to pick you up after you finish. Park a car at the Fruita Campground or picnic area, then head over to the Hickman Bridge trailhead and park your other vehicle there. Walk across the street, and you’ll find the trailhead nearby.
Check out this guide for complete details.
Number 3: Fremont Gorge Overlook –
(Moderately Strenuous | 4.6 miles out-and-back | 3–4 hours)
This trail leads you up and over a large scrubland mesa until a fantastic gorge is revealed. The geology of Fremont Gorge is unlike the rest of the park, it’s some of the oldest rock formations in Capitol Reef. Park at the Blacksmith’s Shop (which also serves as this hike’s trailhead) and start climbing. Be prepared, while the majority of this hike is across flat terrain, the beginning and end of the trail have steep inclines.
And of course, here’s a full guide of the hike here.
Number 2: Cassidy Arch –
(Moderately Strenuous | 3.4 miles out-and-back | 2–3 hours)
This trail is also located on the Scenic Route (which we should mention is a paid toll road). Cassidy Arch is named for the infamous outlaw Butch Cassidy, who is said to have used the rugged terrain of Capitol Reef as a hideout. The trail is steep, and is mostly over slickrock, and leads to a fantastic arch and equally impressive views of the Waterpocket Fold.
Read more about the Cassidy Arch hike here.
Number 1: Rim Overlook + Hickman Bridge –
(Strenuous | 4.6 – 6.1 miles out-and-back | 4 – 5 hours)
Hickman Bridge is a short detour from the main hike to the Rim Overlook, but worth the extra mile or so. The Hickmand Bridge part is probably the most popular hike in park, so be prepared to share that portion of the trail. After you check out the bridge, head back and continue toward the overlook. We promise it’s the best view in the entire park. You can see everything from up there!
Again, LiveAndLetHike.com has a fantastic guide for the Rim Overlook.
Just One Lodge’s Opinion
There you have it! Our list of the 5 Top Day Hikes in Capitol Reef! Of course, we want you to hike around and see if you agree with our rankings. A complete list of the fifteen day hikes in the Fruita region of the park can be found here on the official site. And our thanks to LiveAndLetHike.com for writing the best trail guides for Capitol Reef on the Internet.