Leaves, Leaves, Leaves!
It’s fall now, and as you can guess, that means the leaves are about to become the main attraction all over the country. The golden hues of autumn will soon be tinging Wayne County, where both we at the Lodge at Red River Ranch, and Capitol Reef National Park call home. So if you are coming to visit the park, or stay with us, we thought we’d mention some of the best locations nearby that you should check out for fall colors!
Where To See The Best Fall Colors Near Capitol Reef
Boulder Mountain – Just south of the park is Boulder Mountain. And it’s one of the best locations to visit during fall. You can drive the scenic Highway 12 up to the town of Boulder (and even do the Burr Trail while you’re there) or you can camp in one of the campgrounds – like Singletree – or you can take a little hike on one of the many trails – like at Upper Pleasant Creek. But even if you don’t do any of that, you can still see the colors as you head in and out of Capitol Reef, hang out in Torrey, or relax in your accommodations, because Boulder Mountain is the backdrop for much of Wayne County. You can’t not see it.
Fishlake National Forest – You very likely passed through Fishlake National Forest on your way into Wayne County. So you probably already saw how beautiful the aspens trees are when they change colors. Fish Lake (for which the national forest is named) is a great place to hang out in fall. There is plenty of fishing and lake-based activities, of course, but the leaves are the real draw this time of year. Take the scenic drive from Fish Lake to Johnson Reservoir. If you get there during the peak season, it’s breathtaking. And say “hi” to Pando for us!
Capitol Reef – This might seem obvious, but Capitol Reef is a good spot to see fall colors near Capitol Reef! Joking aside, the park does boast lots of beautiful orchards and stately cottonwood trees. And these put on a pretty great show this time of year. Since Capitol Reef is warmer, and at a lower-elevation then the rest of the county, it is usually the last spot in Wayne County to change colors. Usually sometime between mid-to-late October is prime time. But it can happen as late as November.
Time It Right
The perfect time for peak fall foliage is tricky to estimate. There are so many factors that determine when the leaves will change. Luckily for us, there are peak foliage websites out there that make predictions based on all the data-points available to them. And they are usually pretty good. SmokyMountains.com and the Farmers’ Almanac are two that we consult. So check those out. And remember, even though it is Southern Utah, Wayne County is at a fairly high elevation overall, about 7,000 feet above sea-level. So the leaves tend to turn sooner here than in other counties in Southern Utah. (With the notable exception of Capitol Reef itself, as we mentioned above.)
So. Based on the online predictors, we think that this year – 2023 – that the peak time for fall foliage in Wayne county will be the first weekend in October in the mountains, and the last week of October for Capitol Reef proper. That’s our best guess. But even if you visit a little before, or a little after the peak, it’s still always gorgeous here this time of year!