Capitol Reef National Park is the least-known national park of Utah, but is well worth a visit. Started as an early settlement, you’ll see old farm buildings, some of which are still used today. The orchards in Capitol Reef National Park are still fruitful, and if you visit in June through October you can taste fresh fruit from the trees for free (unless you’re taking it with you – then you’ll pay a fee).
This park is fairly large, but even the main section features petroglyphs, arches and an incredible scenic drive through the bottom of a canyon. Pay attention to weather advisories if you’re taking the scenic drive and stop to talk to park rangers before setting out – the road runs directly over river washes, and at one point your road actually is the riverbed. It’s awesome.
If you have more time to explore, consider a trip North to explore Cathedral Valley, home to many formations the park is known for.
The drive to Capitol Reef is incredible. Much of Highway 24 is an open range, so don’t be surprised to see cattle roaming near the road. Don’t forget to fuel up before driving this section of the state! You won’t see many cars or gas stations in these parts.
If you’re heading to Bryce Canyon next (as our Utah National Parks Itinerary suggests), take the scenic route west on 24 to Highway 12, to enjoy one of the most incredible drives in Utah (second only to Highway 9, which we’ll discuss later!). It will take you longer than if you go to the interstate, but the views are worth it.
Images used with permission. All rights reserved by Anne Sandoval.