One day in Capitol Reef National Park offers a glimpse into the stunning natural beauty and unique geological formations of this remarkable place. Here's a suggested itinerary for your visit:
1. **Visitor Center** (8:00 AM): Start your day at the Capitol Reef Visitor Center. Here, you can pick up maps, get the latest information on park conditions, and chat with park rangers to customize your day based on current conditions and your interests.
2. **Scenic Drive** (8:30 AM): Begin your exploration by driving the scenic Capitol Reef Scenic Drive. This paved road winds through the park and offers numerous pullouts for photo opportunities.
3. **Hike to Hickman Bridge** (10:00 AM): Stretch your legs with a hike to Hickman Bridge, one of the park's iconic natural bridges. This moderately strenuous 2-mile round trip hike takes you through a lush canyon and ends with a magnificent view of the bridge.
4. **Picnic Lunch** (12:00 PM): Head back to the Fruita Campground or one of the picnic areas along the scenic drive for a relaxing picnic lunch. Be sure to try some of the fresh fruit from the orchards if it's in season or a pie from the Gifford House (we LOVE the strawberry rhubarb).
5. **Explore Capitol Gorge** (1:30 PM): Drive to the Capitol Gorge trailhead. This trail offers an easy walk through a narrow canyon with towering cliffs and intriguing pioneer inscriptions along the way. If you have a high-clearance vehicle, consider driving further into the gorge (check with the visitor center for road conditions).
6. **Visit the Petroglyphs** (3:00 PM): Head to the Petroglyph Pullout to see ancient petroglyphs etched into the canyon walls. It's a short walk from the parking area.
7. **Sunset at Sunset Point** (7:00 PM): As the day winds down, drive to Sunset Point for a spectacular sunset view of the Waterpocket Fold. This is a great spot for evening photography.
8. **Stargazing** : Capitol Reef National Park is a designated International Dark Sky Park, so take advantage of the opportunity for some exceptional stargazing. Find a quiet spot away from artificial lights and look up at the brilliant night sky. You might even catch a glimpse of the Milky Way.
Remember to check the park's current conditions, weather, and road closures before your visit, as conditions can change. Enjoy your day at Capitol Reef National Park!
Cassidy Arch Hike : Hike to Cassidy Arch, a 3.4-mile round trip with stunning views and a chance to explore the rugged terrain.
Chimney Rock Trail : Hike the Chimney Rock Trail, a 3.3-mile round trip that provides stunning views of the park and the Henry Mountains.
Cathedral Valley - This remote and less-visited area offers a stark contrast to the park's more popular attractions. The towering monoliths, including the iconic Temple of the Sun and Temple of the Moon, rise majestically against the vast, arid expanse, creating an almost spiritual experience. The rugged and unpaved roads leading to Cathedral Valley add an element of adventure, making it a true hidden gem for those seeking solitude and the remarkable beauty of the American Southwest.
*Be sure to check in with the visitor center for up-to-date conditions. The drive typically requires 4x4 and High Clearance vehicles*