If natural beauty and solitude’s your thing, few destinations can hold a candle to Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park.
At the heart of the park is a former pioneer town. In addition you’ll find hiking trails that take in the unique flora, fauna and geology.
As well as the massive sandstone domes, twisting canyons and dramatic cliffs that characterize Capitol Reef National Park, visitors can get up close and personal with a 100-mile long monoclinal fold called Waterpocket Fold.
With fewer hikers than famed Zion National Park, Capitol Reef National Park nonetheless hosts exceptional trails that incorporate natural ridges, knobs, bridges and other wonders.
Rock climbers have also put Capitol Reef on the map in recent years.
Please note: before you start scaling, it’s important you both know and adhere to the park’s regulations. The primarily sandstone terrain ranges from hard rock Wingate to crumbly Entrada. Don’t apply any chocks, nuts or other climbing equipment until you know exactly what you’re dealing with.
Sulphur Creek– One of the best hikes Capitol Reef has to offer, Sulfur Creek is a great place for the whole family to get stuck right in.
Whether you’re partial to canyoneering, swimming, or simply scrabbling over rocks, the waterfalls, 600-foot deep gorge, and six-mile trail offers something for everyone.
Chimney Rock– Capitol Reef National Park’s Chimney Rock Trail covers the edge of the Waterpocket Fold as well as the top of the low mesa.
A loop trail, if hikers have time up their sleeves they can forego the switchbacks on the mesa’s northwest side and instead enter Chimney Rock Canyon from the east end and tackle a ten mile crawl through Spring Canyon.
Unless your idea of a good time is to do a 180 and hike back upstream once you’re done, it pays to have a shuttle waiting at Grand Wash on Highway 24.
Halls Creek Narrows –Halls Creek Narrows encompasses rugged, canyon-flanked terrain near the base of Waterpocket Fold; to arrive at the trailhead take Notom-Bullfrog Road.
Despite shady respite even in the summer months, the trail offers no fresh water. Be sure to pack your own plus a pump.
To make the most of your surrounds, tackle the trail as a two-to-three day camping trip. That way you can also explore the many side canyons and nooks, Brimhall Natural Bridge and Muley
Diversity is the name of the game when it comes to exploring the Capitol Reef area on horseback.
In addition to the sculptured slickrock that makes up Waterpocket Fold, you’ll spy alpine lakes, beautiful meadows, and remote trails carved out by everyone from Native American Indians, outlaws, explorers and herdsmen.
Both scenic and untamed, on horseback you can navigate the winding canyons abutted by spires, and other rock formations, via groomed and ungroomed trails. The rich, natural hues that make up Capitol Reef National Park leave little wonder as to why the region earned the name “the land of the sleeping rainbow.”