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Capitol Reef in Winter

Capitol Reef in Winter

Posted in: Outdoor adventures, Travel on January 17, 2024.

Winter is Better Here

It’s January! And as we’ve mentioned before, Southern Utah, despite being a desert does have a winter season. Complete with occasional snow and ice. But it also has more sunny days than most parts of the United States during this season, which means it’s a pretty great place to visit in winter. So let’s talk about what you can do in Capitol Reef this January.

Snow on sandstone cliffs

Sometimes it snows in Capitol Reef. Photo by Lisha Riabinina via unsplash.com

What’s Open in Capitol Reef During Winter?

The Visitor Center is open year round, and we always recommend that it be your first stop on any trip to Capitol Reef, any time of the year. It does have reduced hours. Currently it is open from 9am to 4:30pm every day.

All trails and areas of the park are open all year round, unless snowfall closes the roads to a particular area. The roads that are most often affected are the Scenic Route and the Cathedral Valley Loop. The main highway through the park is paved and is first to be plowed when there is snow.

The only things that you might miss by visiting on a sunny day in January or February are the Gifford House and some of the ranger-lead education programs.

The iconic barn in Capitol Reef during winter

And sometimes it doesn’t. Photo by Karthik Sreenivas via unsplash.com

So What Do We Recommend?

Here’s what we at the Lodge at Red River Ranch suggest you try when stopping by Capitol Reef in Winter.

Stay in the main section of the park – in Fruita, near all the orchards – and don’t go into Cathedral Valley or the Waterpocket Fold. The roads are probably fine, but you don’t want to get stuck out there. If the Scenic Route is clear and passable, then you can venture down that road.

Hike on the trails that get lots of sun and are warm and pleasant. Canyon hikes are going to be colder, and there may be ice in sections that makes it a little trickier to navigate. Some of our top recommendations are: the Chimney Rock Loop, the Rim Overlook (or keep going to make it to Navajo Knobs), the Fremont Gorge Overlook Trail, and Cassidy Arch. Link here to a description and map of these trails.

See For Yourself

Come check out Capitol Reef National Park during the colder months, and you’ll see why it’s still a fantastic place to hang out. Winter really is better here.

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