Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park is in Utah's south-central desert. It surrounds a long wrinkle in the earth known as the Waterpocket Fold; The Waterpocket Fold is an awe-inspiring geological wonder nestled in Utah's Capitol Reef National Park, is a testament to the Earth's ancient history and the power of geological forces. Stretching nearly 100 miles, this colossal fold stands as a majestic natural fold in the Earth's crust, revealing layer upon layer of rock formations that date back millions of years. Carved by the relentless forces of erosion, the Fold showcases a mesmerizing array of colors, textures, and shapes that tell the story of the planet's geological evolution. As you traverse the park's scenic roads and hiking trails, the Waterpocket Fold's towering cliffs, hidden canyons, and stunning viewpoints offer a captivating glimpse into the dynamic forces that have shaped our world over countless eons.

After our Little Wild Horse Canyon hike was completed, we drove south back to route 24 and headed west to Torrey, UT where we would spend the night next to Capitol Reef National Park.

Interesting Capitol Reef National Park Facts
  • When was Capitol Reef National Park established? The park designated as a national monument on August 2, 1937, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, it wasn't until December 18, 1971, that it was redesignated as Capitol Reef National Park through the National Parks and Recreation Act.
  • What is the size of Capitol Reef National Park? The park lies on some 377 square miles and showcases the Waterpocket Fold, a dramatic wrinkle in the Earth that extends over 100 miles. Elevation within Capitol Reef National Park varies from 4,000 feet to over 11,000 feet.
  • What is the annual visitation to Capitol Reef National Park? Over 1.1 million visitors each year.
  • What is the annual rainfall in Capitol Reef National Park? Capitol Reef National Park has an arid climate with precipitation averaging 7.91 inches (20.1 cm) annually at the park visitor center weather station. Much of the precipitation falls during the summer monsoon season, usually from July to September.
  • Capitol Reef's highest elevation is 8,960 feet near Billings Pass, lowest elevation is 3,877 feet at Halls Creek.
  • Capitol Reef entrance fees are $20 per vehicle or $10 per individual on foot or bike and passes are valid for 7 days. Fees and/or passes can be obtained online at the National Parks Service website. The lifetime pass is still one of the best bargains available.
Travel Tile
Capitol Reef National Park   Map
Where is Capitol Reef?

Capitol Reef National Park is in south-central Utah. The park is approximately 60 miles (97 km) long on its north–south axis and just 6 miles (9.7 km) wide on average. The park was established in 1971 to preserve 241,904 acres (377.98 square miles) of desert landscape and is open all year, with May through September being the highest visitation months.


We stayed in Torrey, as it is the closest location where we could find reasonably priced accommodations, and as you can see in this map, it is close to the park. When we departed Torrey, we decided to drive south on Utah route 12, as that would take us through some more of the Grand Staircase area. Google Maps will tell you to drive on route 24, but it is a slightly longer drive.

Park entrance fees are $20 per vehicle (includes all occupants), and we continue to point out to all who will listen that the National Park Service annual and/or lifetime passes are one of the biggest bargains available. Click here to read more about entrance fees.

Capitol Reef National Park surrounds a long wrinkle in the earth known as the Waterpocket Fold, with layers of golden sandstone, canyons and striking rock formations. Among the park's sights are the Chimney Rock pillar, the Hickman Bridge arch, and Capitol Reef, known for its white sandstone domes.

The Fruita Campground is next to the Fremont River, and is surrounded by old orchard trees and contains 71 sites complete with firepits and picnic tables. Most of these trees & orchards were planted in 1880 when Nels Johnson moved into Capitol Reef country and staked his homestead in Fruita. Fruita settlers recognized the abundance and accessibility of the Fremont River water and heat that reflected off canyon walls to the soil. Johnson planted the first orchards of apples, peaches, pears, plums, walnut, and almond trees. Later he married Mary Jane Behunin, the daughter of another early Fruita resident, Elijah Cutler Behunin. Behunin built a small cabin that still stands today, along Utah Highway 24.

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  • Torrey, Moonscape, Factory Butte, and Capitol Reef National Park tour from the "Get Your Guide" Website
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Trip Itinerary
Click above map to view a larger Google Map

As you can see by the this map, our trip covered 3 different states, approximately 1,600 road miles and allowed us to see some spectacular geography. You might think that a trip of this distance would be something that would result in a "tired of driving" mood - but our stops were so diverse with such incredible geography and fun things to do, that we found that we looked forward to each morning to where we could continue our adventures!

Click any link below to go directly to that page;

 1 - Denver International Airport

 2 - Glenwood Springs, CO

 3 - Colorado National Monument, CO

 4 - Arches National Park, UT

 5 - Canyonlands National Park, UT

 6 - Little Wild Horse Canyon, UT

 7 - Capitol Reef National Park, UT

 8 - Bryce Canyon National Park, UT

 9 - Zion National Park, UT

 10 - Lake Powell, AZ

 11 - Mesa Verde National Park, CO

 12 - Telluride, CO

 13 - Royal Gorge, CO




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