Capitol Reef is a great place to hang out, and we should know, we’ve spent plenty of time exploring the park. But since there is so much to discover, we at the Lodge at Red River Ranch have compiled a list of the top 10 things to do in Capitol Reef. Enjoy.
10: If you’re visiting in the summer or autumn months, take the opportunity to pick some of the fruit in the orchards. Anything you pick in the park you can eat for free. And if you want to take some home, the price is nominal. The fruit is really good, and it’s fun to pick. Check out this schedule for when the different fruits are available.
9: Various American Indian groups lived or traveled through what is now Capitol Reef. They left behind an impressive collect of indigenous rock art. Many of these petroglyphs can be viewed just off the main thoroughfare in the park. Hike along the boardwalk and get a glimpse of the past.
8: Hickman Bridge is one of shortest hikes in the park, but it is one of the most rewarding. The Hickman Bridge Trail takes the hiker directly beneath this natural bridge. But you can walk all around, and even get on top of the bridge.
7: The Gifford Farm house is a must see. While we of course love the historical relics, it’s the homemade treats that keep us coming back. They sell delicious salsas, pies, preserves, ice creams, etc. And they usually have free samples.
6: The area around the Chimney Rock trail is the oldest in the park. Hike behind the chimney and into the canyons behind it. Check out Spring Canyon.
5: The campground in the park is excellent. It is roomy, so bring a along a big tent, cook dinner in the designated fire pits, and play Frisbee among the shade trees. So we recommend you go camping. There is so much to see in Capitol Reef that the more time you can spend there the better. And you’re not likely to find a better campsite.
4: The Grand Wash is a fun, easy going hike. It is canyon trail, so it’s mostly in the shade, which makes it ideal for the summer months. We at the Lodge suggest that you park a car at both ends of the trail – then you don’t have to walk back as well.
3: Up in the northern part of Capitol Reef is Cathedral Valley. While it is a mostly a sparse desert, there is beauty here. Drive to the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon. These monolithic sandstone formations arise straight from the desert sand. It is a wild and lonely country.
2: Cassidy Arch is another one of the best hikes in the park. This one is a little more strenuous, but definitely worth it. You get to Cassidy Arch by driving along the scenic route in the park (there is a toll of five dollars per entering vehicle.) This hike climbs steeply and takes you up right on top of the arch. The whole of Capitol Reef is laid out before your eyes, which makes it pretty cool, in our opinion.
1: Finally in the number one place is the entire Waterpocket Fold. This southern region is a fantastic section of Capitol Reef. Here the rock has been pushed and molded into many folds (hence the name) and wind and water have carved narrow slot canyons into the rock. Across from the Waterpocket Fold is the Henry Mountain – a beautiful sight. We at the Lodge encourage you to check out as many of the trails and canyons as you can in the Waterpocket Fold. Brimhall Bridges, Halls Creek, Upper Muley Twist and Burro Wash are some of our favorites.