Capitol Reef National Park

The area that we now know as Capitol Reef National Park was not always as it is today.

Plan your Visit to
Capitol Reef National Park

A Geological Marvel

The Capitol Reef National Park desert land was once a vast area rich with agriculture. Native American peoples farmed the land producing all the grain, greens, and squash keeping them well fed for many years, but a sudden drought forever changed the land from lush and fruitful to barren and deserted. The Native Americans left the area and since that time it has remained a largely barren desert land, but what they left behind was a beautiful landscape marked by folds left from the abundant waters that once allowed the land to flourish. Capital Reef National Park was named a national park in 1971 by President Richard Nixon and still attracts visitors from all over the world for its geological formations and beautiful folds of the land.

When to go

April – May – June – July – August – September – October

Activities

Family – Day Trip – Geological Formations – Stunning Vistas – Hiking – Archaeological Sites – Scenic Drives – Wildlife – Biking – Wild flowers

Orchards in the Desert

Utah is a very dry climate and in some of the desert areas, vegetation is hard to come by. Capitol Reef National Park however remains in an area that has both dry climate as well as a lush water supply to grow fruit of all types. In this desert oasis, there is even an area that visitors can pick their very own fruit from the orchard. During harvest times the orchard is filled with all manner of fruit and nuts available for picking when signs are out to indicate the goodies are ripe. Harvest times vary from February to October depending on what type of fruit or nut you wish to pick. The convenient self-pay station is located just outside the orchard area so you can pay for the items you have picked. The proceeds from the orchard go directly back into beautification and preservation projects benefitting Capitol Reef National Park.

Rock Climbing Excursions

Rock climbing has become one of the most popular of outdoor activities. Rock climbers from all over the world venture to Capitol Reef National Park for the chance at climbing the rock formations found throughout the park. There are relatively few restrictions when it comes to rock climbing excursions within the park. The park rangers do restrict climbing in some of the preserved areas due to the prehistoric rock writings left by the ancient people. Signs are posted so you should be well aware of these areas. They also ask that minimal impact on the rock itself be maintained while climbing. Rainstorms may be of some concern when you are rock climbing within the park. They are frequent and cause the sandstone to be brittle making rock climbing particularly dangerous. If the sandstone is damp exercise caution and avoid climbing on it.

Dark Sky Park

Due to the fluorescent lighting that most cities use to light the streets, much of the beauty of the night sky is hidden from view. Even if you live in rural areas with little light it is likely that you have never seen the night sky for all it can be. Capitol Reef National Park is one of the few national parks that have been designated an International Dark Sky Park. This designation means that the International Dark Sky Association has seen where the park awards visitors an unimpeded view of the night sky and therefore on a clear night when the moon is not visible, visitors are awarded the chance to see the stars in a way that most people can only dream of. A backcountry camping trip to Capitol Reef National Park give you the chance to see a blanket of stars that you would not believe if you were not camping underneath them.

Things to Know

Like all national parks, there are some things that you are going to want to be aware of before you arrive at the entrance gate. The first thing is the fees to enter the park. The general admission fees allow for entry into Capitol Reef National Park for seven days and are $7 for an individual arriving on foot or non-motorized transportation, $10 for passenger vehicles, and start at $30 for commercial vehicles depending on the size of the group.

Camping in Capitol Reef National Park is highly recommended for the chance to see the stars and you have two options to choose from. The first is at the Fruita Campground where for a fee of $20 per night visitors can have all of the campground amenities one would expect. The campground does not take reservations so arrive early to ensure you get a spot for the night, but if you are truly adventurous, then backcountry camping is for you. Backcountry camping is free, but you do have to have a backcountry permit before venturing off to your chosen campsite. No matter what you choose however you are sure to have a wonderful and memorable experience in Capitol Reef National Park.