Tour Capitol Reef National Park
On the drive through Capitol Reef National Park you will find amazing scenary around every turn and ample places to pull of to explore those places that pique your interest. One of the best stops is the Panorama Point/Goosenecks view area, on the park’s west end.
To start your trip in Capitol Reef we suggest starting with the Capitol Reef Scenic Drive, which is a 25-mile round trip paved road that has many pullouts for pictures and hikes. Along the scenic drive you will find several spur dirt roads that can be traveled with the campervan. Your first turn off is Grand Wash which is a magical gorge carved over eons. The drive is short to the end of the road, but you will find the Grand Wash trail which is a great hike through the canyon narrows on a very mellow grade. Along the Grand Wash trail you can bear left at the first fork and go see the famous Cassidy Arch just a short 1.1 mile hike.
Hike Hickman Natural Bridge
From the visitor center if you continue east on SR24 for two miles to the trail head for the easy to moderate hike to Hickman Natural Bridge, it is only 2 miles round trip and takes one to two hours. The trail to the arch is a top hike in Utah and is worth the stop. Along the trail you will also see glimpses of the Fremont Culture ruins. Hickman Natural Bridge spans 133 feet across a stream bed. You can also see the parks namesake large white capitol domes made of sandstone. Capitol Reef does not see the crowds of the other parks so you will likely have a nice quiet hike.
Hickman Natural Bridge is just the start of the many hiking opportunities in the park.
Seeing Capitol Gorge and the Pioneer Register
At the end of the pavement on the Capitol Reef Scenic Drive you will come to a fork. Bear left on a well maintained dirt road and drive 2.2 miles to get to the trail head for Capitol Gorge. The gorge itself is a spectacular drive and worth just the drive even if you don't want to hike. The road ends at the point where the gorge becomes too narrow and this is where the hiking starts.
At the trailhead for the Capitol Gorge you will find a mellow and scenic 1.0 mile hike from the trailhead to the rock wall for the Pioneer Register. The register has the names of miners, settlers, and other adventurers who visited this area starting in 1871. The Capitol Gorge road was one of the main routes through the area until the construction of SR24. It was not easy going for the pioneers and they had to battle flash floods and tight confines.
Fruit Picking in Fruita
Even thought most of the original settlers have moved away there are still fruit orchards left over in the park near the Visitors Center. Park visitors may pick small quantities of fruit in season: cherries in June, apricots in July, pears in August, and apples in September. There are U-Pick signs so please leave a small donation to help maintain the orchard.
Don't forget to check out the historic Fruita area and the local landmarks. You can get a good snap shot of pioneer life in historic Fruita.
Capitol Reef National Park Camping:
In Capitol Reef National park you will find Fruita Campground just 1 mile south of the visitor center and there are shade trees and bathrooms. The Fruita Campground is nestled in among an old orchard and farm and there is a path running along the campground for biking and hiking. The Fruita Campground is now a reservation campground so we recommend planning ahead.
There are two more primitive campgrounds in Capitol Reef. In the southern end of the park you will find the Cedar Mesa Campground, go east on SR 24 from the visitor center about 9 miles to Notom-Bullfrog Road. Then you will drive 23 miles south to the campground, but be aware that only the first 10 miles are paved so please avoid if there has been recent rains.
Near the Park
Outside of the park there are lots of other options including a nice Forest Service campground.
The closest full-service RV park and campground to the national park is Wonderland RV Park, at the junction of Utah 12 and 24 (P.O. Box 67), Torrey, UT 84775 (www.capitolreefrvpark.com; tel. 877/854-0184 or 435/425-3665). The grounds and bathhouses are immaculate, and there are shade trees, grass, big rig sites, and croquet, horseshoes, volleyball, and basketball. Wi-Fi, cable TV, and use of gas barbecue grills are included in the rates.
About 1 mile west of Torrey on Utah 24 is Thousand Lakes RV Park, P.O. Box 750070, Torrey, UT 84775 (www.thousandlakesrvpark.com; tel. 800/355-8995 for reservations, or 435/425-3500). In addition to the usual amenities, this campground offers good views of surrounding rock formations, some shade trees, and Wi-Fi. Sites are gravel; tent sites are grass. The campground also has a convenience store, a coin-op laundry, horseshoes, an outdoor heated pool, and barbecues.
Those looking to be in the National Forest will find Single Tree Campground, on Utah 12 about 16 miles south of Torrey. There is a large forest trees among the sites and all of the sites are paved.
Best Bet For Showers:
1) Chuck Wagon General Store, 12 West Main St., 435-425-3288
Season: (March - October) 7am-10pm (shorter hours in shoulder season)
2) Thousand Lakes RV Park & Campground, 1110 West Highway 24, 435-425-3500
Season: (April - October) 8am-8pm
3) Sand Creek Hotel, RV Park, & Campground, 540 West Highway 24, 435-425-3577
Season: (March - November) 8am-6pm
4) Torrey Trading Post, 75 West Main St. (next to post office), 435-425-3716, 12pm-4pm