DescriptionFive miles east of Torrey on SR 24, Capitol Reef National Park was named for reef-like cliffs capped by white Navajo sandstone formations that have eroded and now resemble the dome of the U.S. Capitol. Within the park is a spectacular section of the Waterpocket Fold, which extends some 100 miles southeastward from Thousand Lake Mountain to Lake Powell. The fold graphically illustrates how the Earth's surface was built, folded and eroded over time. Numerous eroded basins, or “pockets,” hold rainwater necessary to maintain desert life—hence the term “waterpocket fold.”
Near the visitor center, brightly colored tiered cliffs rise 1,000 feet above the Fremont River. Pre-Columbian Indian petroglyphs can be seen on the surrounding canyon walls. Growing amid Capitol Reef's red rock formations are orchards where fruit may be picked in season. Visitors also can see the remains of Fruita, an early Mormon pioneer settlement.
Horseback RidingHondoo Rivers & Trails
General InformationThe park is open daily 24 hours; services are reduced during the winter months. Hiking trails and drives provide scenic views of the park; a backcountry use permit is required for overnight trips. A trail near the campground leads to Cohab Canyon, where another trail continues to the canyon rim. A nature trail along SR 24 about 2 miles east of the visitor center goes to Hickman Natural Bridge. A scenic drive to Capitol Gorge leaves SR 24 at the visitor center. The Ripple Rock Nature Center, just south of the visitor center, is open Memorial Day-Labor Day. Hours vary; phone ahead for schedule.
ADMISSIONADMISSION to the park is free. Admission to the Capitol Gorge scenic drive is $10 (per private vehicle or motorcycle); $7 (per person arriving by other means). The above fees permit entrance for 7 calendar days from date of purchase. The camping fee is $20.
PETSPETS are not permitted on park trails; they are allowed in specific areas only if on a leash, crated or otherwise physically restricted at all times.
ADDRESSADDRESS inquiries to the Superintendent, Capitol Reef National Park, HC 70, Box 15, Torrey, UT 84775; phone (435) 425-3791.
Things to SeeGifford House Store and Museum
Named for white sandstone formations that resemble the U.S. Capitol, Capital Reef offers a scenic drive along the Waterpocket Fold, an area where erosion has formed basins that retain precious rainwater.