Capitol Reef

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Capitol Reef is a diverse destination. Many short park trails and scenic drives make for great family fun, while some technical canyoneering adventures keep the more adventurous entertained.


The petroglyphs and pictographs give evidence to human habitation thousands of years ago. The temperate climate, and abundant water must have made the Capitol Reef area a favorite of early Indians, likely farming along the Fremont River. In the 1870's, early Mormon settlers reached the area and eventually founded the nearby towns. (Loa, Bicknell, Torrey, etc...)

In 1937 President Roosevelt designed Capitol Reef and a National Monument to protect the area, though visitation was low. In 1962 highway 24 was built, making the park much more accessible and increasing visitation. Finally, in 1971 the National Monument became a National Park.

Camping & Amenities

The National Park offers a 71 site campground near the visitor center on the west side of the park. For the more adventurous, there is primitive camping in Cathedral Valley, or many opportunities for primitive camping on BLM land outside of the park. Easy (and free) camping options include the Pandora's Box Trailhead, Burro Wash Trailhead, or several side roads off the Notom Road that are outside of the park. With all camping: Practice low impact techniques, pack out all garbage, and don't create new fire rings.

Torrey or Bicknell (about 10-15 miles west of the park) offer hotels, small stores, gas stations, and several restaurants. Loa, about 30 miles west of the park, offers a more full service grocery store. Be aware, most stores are closed on Sunday.

Season to visit

Anytime, although summers can be hot. Due to it's relatively high elevation, winters can be cold, with snow on the ground. Canyoneering is best done in the summer. In spring and fall, a wetsuit is recommended. Canyoneering in the winter is generally not recommended, but the short hiking trails in the park can still be great destinations.

Capitol Reef Classics

Though canyonering has occurred in the park since at least the 1970's, information was not readily available until the last few years. Classics canyoneering adventures in the park Burro Wash, Cottonwood Wash, and Five Mile Wash, along with my beloved Pandora's Box.

Note: Permits are now required for technical canyoneering in the park. See the park page for more information.

For hikes, Ferns Nipple is top of my list, though not for beginners.


Canyoneering - Capitol Reef Canyoneering

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Hiking - Capitol Reef Hiking

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Roadside Attraction - Capitol Reef Roadside Attraction

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