Description - Capitol Reef National Park was established to protect the grand and colorful geologic formations in the area, as well as the historical and cultural history. The highlighted geologic feature within Capitol Reef National Park is the Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile long wrinkle in the earth's crust. The fold extends 70 miles from Thousand Lake Mountain south to the Colorado River (now Lake Powell).
Copyright: National Park Service
Capitol Reef National Park
Human inhabitance of the region began with the ancestral people nearly 1,000 years ago. You will see signs of their time in the Fremont River valley in petroglyphs and small adobe structures. This evidence has weathered many centuries and often blends into the scenery.
More obvious to visitors are the remains of the Mormon community of Fruita, which was established in 1880. Just by driving on Highway 12 you'll see the orchards they planted and structures they built. Usually no more than ten families lived in Fruita at any one time and the last resident moved away in 1969.
- The visitor center is a great place to begin your visit to Capitol Reef National Park. Within the visitor center you'll find exhibits explaining the geology of the area and the natural and cultural history. A bookstore with books, maps, posters and postcards is operated on site.
The park's main driving tours extend from one to 25 miles and are popular with cyclists as well as scenic drivers. There are two long, mainly unpaved, loop tours through the park's Cathedral and Waterpocket Districts for four-wheel drive enthusiasts.
Capitol Reef offers many hiking opportunities. In the Fruita area alone, there are 15 hiking trails with trailheads located along Utah Highway 24 and the Scenic Drive. All trails are well-marked with signs at the trailhead and at trail junctions and by cairns (stacks of rocks) along the way. A free guide to the trails is available at the visitor center. Some trails have self-guiding brochures which are available, for a nominal fee, at the trailhead or at the visitor center.
There are also opportunities for the serious backpacker and visitors who enjoy exploring remote areas. Popular backcountry hikes in the southern section of the park include Upper and Lower Muley Twist Canyons and Halls Creek. Backcountry hiking opportunities also exist in the Cathedral Valley area and near Fruita. If you plan to take an overnight hike, you need to obtain a free backcountry permit at the visitor center prior to your trip.
The picnic facility within the park lies in a lush, grass covered area and provides restrooms, shade, tables and drinking water. A group picnic area, located across the Scenic Drive, can be reserved. Facilities on site include a pit-type barbecue area, benches, tables and electricity upon request.
The park supports three camping facilities. The Fruita Campground lies closest to the visitor center and provides modern facilities. The Cathedral Valley and Cedar Mesa Campground are primitive facilities with pit toilets, picnic tables and fire grates without running water.
Recreation - Capitol Reef supports many activities to please outdoor enthusiasts. Recreation opportunities within the park include hiking, backpacking, camping, picnicking, road biking, and rock climbing.
Climate - Capitol Reef National Park has an arid climate with precipitation averaging just 7.2 inches annually. The region experiences hot summers, cold winters and mild, but variable spring and fall weather.
This site is located in south central Utah. The Fremont River flows through the park and creates an oasis-like setting. It is accessible from State Highways 24 and 12. Hanksville (east) and Torrey (west) are the closest communities to the park with services.