Recording roughly 700,000 visitors per year—many of whom had never heard of the place before stumbling upon it—Capitol Reef National Park is much less touted that in its famous neighbors: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Zion. The reward of Capitol Reef? A much higher likelihood of solitude. Visiting during the winter months almost guarantees such a feeling of aloneness—the parking lots empty, the trails deserted. Yet with a sprinkling of snow (Capitol Reef received perhaps 12 inches this winter in total), the Wingate sandstone cliffs and the Kayenta benches of the Waterpocket Fold come alive in photographs, making winter a spectacular time to visit—and to hike.
Enjoy below a small sampling of photographs from various locations in the park. All were taken within a few miles of the principal artery through Capitol Reef—Highway 24—yet, being off the typical tourist track, provided an assurance of solitude.
Would it be possible to hike the trails without extensive gear around this time of year (Feb/March)?
Hi Ally – you can almost certainly hike the maintained trails in winter without gear. I spent the whole winter there and hiked every weekend – it only snowed 3 or 4 times, and even then, it was possible to trudge through the snow without gear. The only thing impassable immediately after a snowstorm would be the slot canyons, which will likely fill with chilly water.