Capitol Reef National Park Things to Do

  • Scenic Drive
    Scenic Drive
    by Basaic
  • Wild turkeys
    Wild turkeys
    by Assenczo
  • Tame lizards
    Tame lizards
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Most Recent Things to Do in Capitol Reef National Park

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    Hike: Cohab Canyon Trail

    by goodfish Written Apr 22, 2015

    A really great 3.4 mile RT hike with a lot of visual drama, Cohab starts near the campground and climbs a series of steep switchbacks to the top of a ridge with a nice panorama of the valley below. From there it drops into the canyon and follows along a wash hemmed by lofty cliffs, a lot of interesting little side spurs, and oodles of fascinating rock formations, textures and colors - some of which are shown in the photos above. BIG fun!

    The route eventually leaves the wash and meanders over slickrock towards the end of the canyon with a spur climbing to a couple of overlooks along the way (do these!) where some hikers choose to backtrack to campground. Venturing further along you'll pass the connection for north end of Frying Pan Trail. Just past this junction, the trail follows a bench above the wash before dropping down to Hwy 24 not far from Hickman Bridge.

    From here you can retrace your steps, walk 24 back to the parking area, or shuttle back if you have cars you can drop at either end.

    My recommendation? Backtrack from the junction with Frying Pan as the last section of trail isn’t nearly as scenic, and the shoulder of 24 isn't a lot of fun. Even better is to extend your hike with as much of Frying Pan as you can handle before doing an about-face.

    See the park's trail map here:
    http://www.nps.gov/care/planyourvisit/upload/Fruita-Area-Map-and-Guide-2014-final-low-res-locked-for-web.pdf

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    Wildlife in an Art Gallery

    by Assenczo Updated Sep 25, 2014

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    The rock art gallery alongside the main highway is a well-visited place. It is supplied with ample parking space even from hulk point of view. The viewing area has been enhanced with an elevated wooden path and some explanations along the way. The carvings themselves might be exciting to variable degree depending on the heat, sun angle or crowd saturation. In any case they are to be expected - guide books have informed the potential visitor of their existence. The surprise is that this relatively fertile nook harbours not only remnants of ancient life but current wildlife as well. Wild turkeys have made this part of the Fremont River a home and in the process they show why humans had adopted it too long time ago. The only enigma left is the question: “Why the “Fremont people” went away, just teasing their contemporary “heirs by extension” with some stone signatures but the turkeys did not?

    Wild turkeys Tame lizards
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    Capitol Dome

    by Basaic Written Sep 20, 2012

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    Capitol Dome and the nearby Navajo Dome are made of Navajo Sandstone and are remnants of an ancient Sahara-like desert. They were formed as sandy sediments were laid down over millions of years and cemented together by minerals deposited by the waters of an ancient shallow sea. The sediments were then overlaid by more layers which pressed them into sandstone. Much later, the formations were exposed by uplift and erosion from wind and rain. These forces continue to sculpt the formations today.

    Capitol Dome Navajo Dome
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    Hickman Bridge

    by Basaic Written Sep 20, 2012

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    A short distance east of the Petroglyph Parking Area is the one for Hickman Bridge. Hickman Bridge is the largest natural bridge in the park with a 133 foot span. The bridge is reached via a 2 mile round trip trail that is steep and strenuous in spots then levels out and becomes easier. If you want a bit more of a challenge, you can take the strenuous 4.5 mile round trip, Rim Overlook Trail. Both trails will expose you to the glaring sun, so take lots of water and try to hike the trail early in the morning when it is cooler.

    Hickman Bridge Trail
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    Petroglyphs and Pictographs

    by Basaic Written Sep 20, 2012

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    A bit further along Utah Highway 24, about a mile east of the visitor center, you will find a series of rock art consisting of "petroglyphs" pecked into the rock by another rock) and "pictographs" (painted onto the rocks). This rock art was left by the Fremont Culture which occupied the area from around 700 AD to 1250 AD. The rock art offers a glimpse into the lives and religious practices of these early settlers. The rock art is easily accessible via a short, level trail and a wooden bridge.

    Petroglyphs Petroglyphs Petroglyphs
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    Fruita School

    by Basaic Written Sep 20, 2012

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    Heading east from the main part of the park is the Fruita School, part of the Fruita Historic District. The Mormon Settlers realized the importance of education so they built a one-room schoolhouse in 1896. The school served all grades and had from 8 to 26 students at a time. The building also served as a community center, Sunday school, and a Saturday Social Center. The school is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

    Fruita School Inside Inside
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    Scenic Drive Formations

    by Basaic Written Sep 20, 2012

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    Some of the formations along the Scenic Drive include: The Egyptian Temple; EPH Hanks Tower; along with formations of Wingate Sandstone (Photo 3); Navajo Sandstone (Photo 4); and Chinle Formation (Photo 5).

    Egyptian Temple EPH Tower Wingate Sandstone Navajo Sandstone Greyish Chinle Formation
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    Gifford Farmhouse

    by Basaic Written Sep 20, 2012

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    Another interesting site toward the beginning of the Scenic Drive is the Historic Gifford House which was built by Calvin Pendleton in 1908. A few years later, Dewey Giffordsand his family occupied the farm. The Giffords Family was the last residents in Fruita and did not leave until 1969. Today, the Gifford Farmhouseconsists of a museum showing a typical farm in Fruita and a gift shop that sells handcrafted items, recipe books, and various food items. Don't miss the homemade pies! Hours are 8 AM to 5 PM.

    Gifford Farmhouse View From Farmhouse
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    Historic Fruita Blacksmith Shop

    by Basaic Written Sep 20, 2012

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    At the beginning of the drive is part of the old Mormon settlement called "Fruita" because of the fruit trees the settlers planted here. At that time (the late 1800s) this part of Utah was pretty isolated so the little community had to be self-sufficient. The community remained here until the 1960s well after the park was taken over by the National Park Service in the 1930s. 1/2 mile south of the visitors center, along the Scenic Drive, is the Fruita Blacksmith Shop.

    Historic Fruita Blacksmith Shop Historic Fruita Blacksmith Shop
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    Scenic Drive

    by Basaic Written Sep 20, 2012

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    One of the main things to do in the park is taking the 10 mile long Scenic Drive. This drive costs $5 per vehicle after the Fruita Campground area and leads along the Waterpocket Fold. After the 10 miles of paved road the road divides into two unpaved roads: One leading to Capitol Gorge and the other to the South Draw. Along the Scenic Drive you will see a number of interesting formations from the Navajo Sandstone, the Wingate Sandstone and the Chinle Formation. There are a few historical sites at the beginning and some decent hiking trails/side trips if you have the time and wish to explore more. Guides to the Scenic Drive are available for purchase at the visitors center.

    Scenic Drive Scenic Drive Scenic Drive Scenic Drive
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    Chimney Rock

    by Basaic Written Sep 20, 2012

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    Just across Utah Highway 24 from Panorama Point is the parking area for the Chimney Rock Trail. This 3.5 mile loop trail leads through beautiful red rock formations to Chimney Rock, a very interesting formation. My photo of Chimney Rock did not come out well, this is from the Internet (not copyrighted).

    Chimney Rock Chimney Rock Trail
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    Panorama Point/Gooseneck Overlook

    by Basaic Written Sep 20, 2012

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    Here at Capitol Reef National Park is some of the cleanest air in the country allowing you to see longer distances. A nice place to do that is here at Panorama Point and nearby Gooseneck Overlook. These views are on Utah Highway 24 before you get to the visitors center. Formation of this beautiful spot began some 65 million years ago when sediments were pressed together to form solid rock and then was carved out during the Pleistocene Era some 25,000 years ago during the last glaciation period. From this point you see the Western Edge of the WaterpocketFold (which form the park) and the Golden White domes formed from the Navajo Sandstone, the hard red cliffs formed from the Wingate Sandstone, and the Grey-green and Purple formation that came from the Chinle Formation. In the distance you may see the Henry Mountains.

    Panorama Point/Gooseneck Overlook Panorama Point/Gooseneck Overlook Panorama Point/Gooseneck Overlook Panorama Point/Gooseneck Overlook
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    Ripple Rock Nature Center

    by Basaic Updated Sep 20, 2012

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    The Ripple Rock Nature Center is located a short 1/2 mile down the Scenic Drive from the visitors' center. It has some nice interactive displays that are fun and educational for kids of all ages. You may want to check first at the visitors center, though, as the hours seem pretty intermittent.

    Ripple Rock Nature Center
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    Visitors Center

    by Basaic Written Sep 20, 2012

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    The visitors center for Capitol Reef National Park is located at the intersection of the Scenic Drive and Utah Highway 24.It is kinda neat how the building blends into the environment. Here you can get a brochure and newspaper for the park; look over maps; and get recommendations from the helpful rangers on how to best enjoy your visit based on your interests and the amount of time you have to visit.

    Visitors Center
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    "Loop the Fold": Side Trip

    by goodfish Updated May 7, 2012

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    When Burr Trail reached Hwy 12 Scenic Byway at Boulder, we took a detour off the loop and headed south in hot pursuit of decent mug of joe and another great hike: both highly recommended. Here's the skinny:

    • The byway passes over Haymaker Bench and a very narrow, hair-raising stretch called the Hogback: no barriers; not much shoulder; you-don't-wanna-know-foot-drops on both sides. The heights-hating husband was too busy whiteknuckling the SUV to look but it was a bonus for his passenger.

    • Just beyond the Hogback is Calf Creek Recreation Area where you can, and should, take the 6-mile hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls. There is also a nice campground, crystal-clear river and picnic area here.

    • About 10 miles before Escalante we scored those lattes. Kiva Koffeehouse is easy to miss as it was custom-designed to blend with the landscape. Huge windows and a pretty patio open to scenic canyon views: a really nice spot for a light lunch, breakfast or pastry-and-coffee stop. They also have two rooms in a separate building that operate as a B&B. From here we doubled back to Calf Creek for our hike. http://www.kivakoffeehouse.com/

    • With more time on your hands, you can follow Hwy 12 as it passes the town of Escalante, parts of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Kodachrome Basin State Park (great hiking and campground), all the way to Bryce National Park - 80 miles from Boulder. The 124-mile length of 12 from Torrey to the junction of 89 - west of Bryce - is designated scenic byway: download a map and information from the link below.

    Over the Hogback Lower Calf Creek Falls Calf Creek Campground Kiva Koffeehouse
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Capitol Reef National Park Things to Do

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