7 Reasons to Visit Capitol Reef National Park

Oddly enough, until I started planning my first trip to Utah, I had no idea that Capitol Reef National Park was in the American west.   I pictured it being in some exotic south Pacific locale because of the name.   Instead of coral reefs and coconuts, Capitol Reef NP is known for its interesting geology and fruit orchards.   Here are 7 great reasons to visit Capitol Reef NP.

1)  Capitol Reef is a Gold Tier International Dark Sky Park:   From the IDA website, “An IDA International Dark Sky Park (IDSP) is a land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment.”   In layman’s terms, you can see a whole bunch of stars.   It really is exceptional to be able to view the Milky Way galaxy and the night sky the way it was before light pollution became such a problem.   I love this Tyler Nordgren poster by the way.


Copyright Tyler Nordgren

2)  The Waterpocket Fold:   This is a geologic monocline on an epic scale—stretching almost 100 miles.   Basically, consider this to be a wrinkle in the earth caused by tectonic activity.   You can learn more about it here:   https://www.nps.gov/care/index.htm.

3) Fruit Orchards: The orchards in the Fruita district are amazing and free to pick and enjoy on site.   There are over 3100 trees in 19 orchards all clustered together.   The fruits include apples, plums, apricots, cherries, peaches, pears, and many others.   Most of these fruit trees produce heirloom varieties of fruit rather than the common mainstream varieties found at your local grocery store.


4) Locally Baked Fruit Pies: Also in the Fruita district is the Gifford Homestead.   Once the homestead and farm of a Mormon family, this is now operated by the NPS and sells locally made crafts and victuals.   The baked fruit pies are incredibly delicious and a must get when you visit.   It’s hard to decide between the apple and cherry as my favorite.

5) Petroglyphs: Many of these are in plain sight.   This picture was taken out the window of my rental car on Hwy 24.


6) Hiking: Some of the many great trails include the Rim Overlook Trail and Cassidy Arch both easily accessible from the Fruita district.

7) Convenient:   Now I realize that this park is in the middle of Utah far from any airport or major city.   What I mean by convenient is that if you are in the Moab area visiting Arches and Canyonlands and wanting to drive across the state to Zion and Bryce Canyon then take a slightly longer more scenic route right through Capitol Reef.   It probably adds 20 minutes of drive time but gets you off the interstate and through some beautiful back country.

Thanks for reading.   rk

The Best Bargain in Travel

The best bargain in travel is the United States National Park Pass.   The cost is negligible really.   We purchased an annual family Interagency National Park Pass last June for $80.   If you are a senior, it is only $10 for a lifetime pass and the US Military get in free always.


Having the National Park Pass gets you into all National Parks, Monuments, and Federal Recreation sites at no additional cost with no limitations on visits.   Before I had the National Park Pass I had been to 6 National Parks in 43 years.   Since June, I have been to 9 National Parks with 7 of them new.   In addition, my adult children have used the pass to visit 3 other National Parks and between all of us have scheduled trips this winter and spring to at least 7 more.   The National Parks are spread all over the country so while some of our trips have been based around the Parks, others have been because we have been in the area.   Work trip to New Hampshire, then drive up to Acadia in Maine.   Weekend getaway to Seattle, lets squeeze in Mt Ranier etc.

The United States National Park system represents all that is great about America.   To quote writer and historian, Wallace Stegner, national parks are “the best idea we ever had.  Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.”   The National Park system preserves the most beautiful, special, and culturally important places in our country.   To visit them widens your view of the world and fills you with awe to the beauty created by God.


Parks visited so far this year by our family include Acadia NP, Congaree NP, Cuyahoga NP, Zion NP, Canyonlands NP, Arches NP, Capitol Reef NP, Bryce Canyon NP, Grand Canyon NP, Saguaro NP, Mt Ranier NP, Olympic NP, Shenandoah NP, and the Great Smoky Mountains NP.    Scheduled trips over the next six months include Joshua Tree NP, Yellowstone NP, Grand Tetons NP, Badlands NP, Big Bend NP, Guadalupe NP, and Carlsbad Caverns NP.   I’m sure we will sneak in a few more as well!