There are many, many great hikes in Capitol Reef National Park. Two of the most popular are the Fremont Gorge Overlook Trail and the Fremont River Trail. The first, ascends to Johnson’s Mesa, and provides a great panoramic view. The second is an easy trail that follows the Fremont River past the Capitol Reef campgrounds. Since the Fremont River is partly responsible for the formation of Capitol Reef National Park, we at the Lodge at Red River Ranch think anyone who visits the park should take the time to hike one of these short trails.
The Fremont Gorge Overlook Trail begins near the Blacksmith Shop. However, you might have to park at the visitor center, depending on the business of the season. From the beginning, the trail is a steep incline. This hike is classified as strenuous by the park, and may be difficult for some. But if you can make it to the top of Johnson’s Mesa, the view is worth the effort. Looking north, you can see across the main part of the park, and if you turn south, you’ll see into the Waterpocket Fold.
The much easier Fremont River Trail starts behind the historic Gifford House (a home build by actual residents of the area, for more on the Gifford House, check out this post.) For the first half mile, the trail runs beside the Fremont River. This first part of the hike is level and graded, meaning it is wheelchair accessible. The rest of the trail also becomes steep, once you enter the canyon, until you come to the valley overlook.
Both of these trails give you a chance to see the park from up above. We at the Lodge recommend them to anyone, especially if you are pressed for time, but still want to get in some hiking.