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Capitol Reef National Park - Utah

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Encompassing nearly a quarter-million acres of towering landscape, this lesser-known national park is named after Capitol Dome, a rock outcropping atop a high cliff which is capped with white sandstone. The rock somewhat resembles the Capitol Building in Washington.

The rock formations in the park are part of the Waterpocket Fold, an eroded bulge which runs for 100 miles. The huge cliffs and pinnacles offer colorful views.
The main town in the area is Torrey, which has stores and hotels.

What to See & Do

Rock formations in the park are part of the Waterpocket Fold, an eroded bulge which runs for 100 miles. The huge cliffs and pinnacles offer colorful views. A unique feature of this park is the old pioneer Mormon community of Fruita, which lies within the park. Orchards (apple, pear, apricot, cherry & peach) are maintained by the parks service at Fruita and picking is permitted in season. Guided tours of the orchards and historic buildings are given by park staff during summer months.

Highway 24 is the main route through the park. Hanksville is to the east and Torrey to the west. Highway 12 approaches Torrey from the south, providing a scenic route from such towns as Boulder and Escalante. While most of the park's hiking trails and other attractions are accessible from Highway 24, backcountry roads fan out to the more remote sections of the park. The visitor center is located along the highway, and interpretation programs are given during the prime season.

The peak season runs from mid-April through October. Summer temperatures range up to 90 degrees but nights are comfortably cool. There are no commercial accommodations within the park, and people usually stay in motels in Torrey, Hanksville, Bicknell, and Loa, as well as two motels next to the western park entrance (see below).

Trails

There are five easy-to-moderate trails:

Goosenecks Trail&emdash;Start from the Goosenecks parking lot. This 1-hour walk is over 2 miles, with good views of Sulphur Creek Canyon and beyond.

Capitol Gorge Trail -- Start at the Capitol Gorge parking lot. The trail leads 2 miles to petroglyphs and the park's unique waterpockets, or "tanks."

Grand Wash Trail -- From a parking lot, this trail runs 4.5 miles (a 2.- hour walk) along the bottom of the wash.

Fremont River Trail -- From the campground this trail leads 2.5 miles through twisted canyons near the river, for a 2-hour walk that is moderately-strenuous after the first 1/2 mile .

Hickman Bridge Trail -- This 2-mile trail is self-guiding & a moderate walk.

Other trails in the park are considered strenuous. These include the Rim Overlook Trail, a spur off the Hickman Trail, which leads 4.5 miles and ends on top of 1,000-foot cliffs. Chimney Rock Trail is a fairly hard climb with switchbacks and an easier hike on the upper loop. The 3.5-mile hike takes about 2.5 hours. The trail to Cassidy Arch (named after Butch who hid here) leaves from Grand Wash and takes about 3 hours (3.5 miles). The trail climbs up high cliffs. The longest trail in the park is the Frying Pan Trail, with trailheads at Cassidy Arch or Cohab Canyon. It takes about 6 hours to hike and leads through much slickrock. This is for experienced and fit hikers only.

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Capitol Reef Park Camping

The national park campground, at the old Fruita townsite, has 70 units. It is located one mile from the park visitor center and has picnic tables, water, rest rooms, grills and nature trails nearby. There are two primitive campgrounds: in Cathedral Valley and on Cedar Mesa. Rim Rock Motel has 45 campsites, for Rvs and tents.


Nearby Places

Bryce Canyon National Park
Cedar Breaks National Monument
Moab
Arches National Park
Canyonlands National Park
Zion National Park
Glen Canyon NRA

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