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Best Overlooks in Capitol Reef

Best Overlooks in Capitol Reef

Posted in: Outdoor adventures, Special Places on October 12, 2022.

What a View!

Capitol Reef is full of amazing hikes that lead through amazing scenery. From plateaus, to rising monoliths, to narrow canyons, there’s so much to see. And we’ve covered a lot of it before. But, to us here at the Lodge, it’s the overlooks that are often the most exciting, the most stunning, and the most scenic locations in the park. So we thought we’d share a few of our favorite Capitol Reef overlooks with you. Check them all out on your next trip to the park.

A wide plateau in Capitol Reef

There are lots of amazing overlooks in the park. Photo by Madalyne Staab via unsplash.com

Goosenecks Overlook

This is a great little gem, and it’s really easy to get to. Just a short distance from the Visitor Center, and across the road from Chimney Rock, is the turn off to the Goosenecks Overlook. Drive past Panorama Point (but, ya know, check that out too) about a quarter-mile until you reach the parking area for the overlook. Then, it’s just a quick 10-minute hike to the edge of the jagged Goosenecks canyon. Look down and admire the views!

A twisting canyon Panorama

Looking across the Goosenecks Overlook.

Rim Overlook

This one is a little bit of a hike, but it will give you to some of the best views of the Fruita area, and, notably, the famous Castle rock formation. Start at the Hickman Bridge trailhead, but don’t take the turn off to the bridge. (Well, do if you want to, but then come back to where the trail splits.) Then keep hiking up the hill until you reach the overlook location. Look out over the Waterpocket Fold and towards Chimney Rock. Just don’t get too close to the edge, it’s a long way down! It’s about four-miles roundtrip to the Rim Overlook, and the hike is moderately strenuous.

A sweeping view of the South Desert

The view from the Upper South Desert Overlook. Photo by Red River Ranch.

Upper South Desert Overlook

This one is our favorite overlooks in all of Cathedral Valley. It allows you to look down into a desert valley, which depending on the time of year, is sometimes covered in green grass and field flowers. And it’s all flanked by high red, sandstone cliffs. The good news is that it’s a short, easy hike. But you’ll have to drive quite a way into Cathedral Valley to reach it. (Which, actually, is more good news!) We’ve written a complete guide to help you out when doing the Cathedral Valley loop, so check that out here.

Jagged upturned cliffs of the Waterpocket Fold

The Waterpocket Fold as seen from the Burr Trail.

Strike Valley Overlook

This is another amazing overlook in Capitol Reef that requires some effort to get to. But, we think it’s worth the work. Drive down south into the Waterpocket Fold along the famous Burr Trail and connect with the Strike Valley Road. The road is a bit rough, so a high-clearance, 4-wheel drive vehicle is required. (Or alternately, you can just hike up the road to the trailhead.) Once you reach the trail sign, it’s about a two-mile roundtrip hike to the overlook. You’ll get to see all the geological upheaval of the Waterpocket Fold stretched out in front of you. Check out this awesome guide for more info.

Hooray for Overlooks!

There’s something truly awe-inspiring about looking out over a vast expanse of wilderness. It stirs something deep inside us, and hopefully, it will you too. Some of the ones we’ve shared with you are a little tough to get to, but we guarantee that you’ll love them all. One last thought: these overlooks are great at any time of the day, but they are especially magnificent in the mornings and evenings. So if you can make it work with your schedule, try to go during those times. And, most of all, enjoy those views!

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