Secrets of Capitol Reef National Park

Overlooking Highway 24, Capitol Reef National Park, March 2015

Overlooking Highway 24, Capitol Reef National Park, March 2015

In many ways, Capitol Reef National Park is Utah’s best-kept secret. Despite its central location—roughly halfway between tourist behemoths Arches National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park—Capitol Reef packs as great as a punch as its more popular neighbors with far smaller crowds. Even the park’s most travelled areas—the Highway 24 corridor and Scenic Drive—offer serenity and peacefulness. If you know where to look, hidden gems await: intimate side canyons, surreptitious petroglyphs, rare plants, whimsical landscapes of sloping slickrock. Of course, Capitol Reef’s many established trails and routes are a fine place to start—but the thirst for adventure and seclusion can lead to off-trail treasures.

See below for a sampling of such concealed wonders, all of which can be found within an hour’s walk from Highway 24.

Endless Navajo sandstone, from a secret spot near Grand Wash

Endless Navajo sandstone, from a secret spot near Grand Wash

Incredible crossbedding, high above Grand Wash

Incredible crossbedding, high above Grand Wash

Secluded side canyon, off the Fremont River Trail

Secluded side canyon, off the Fremont River Trail

Dinosaur tracks in an undisclosed canyon near the Fremont River Trail

Dinosaur tracks in an undisclosed canyon near the Fremont River Trail

Dinosaur tracks on a slab in the Moenkopi

Dinosaur tracks on a slab in the Moenkopi

Impressive petroglyphs, probably ancestral Puebloan (vice Fremont)

Impressive petroglyphs, probably ancestral Puebloan (vice Fremont)

Sheltered pictographs in the Moenkopi formation

Sheltered pictographs in the Moenkopi formation

Ribbed rock at the contact of two members of the Moenkopi formation

Ribbed rock at the contact of two members of the Moenkopi formation

Abnormally tall claret cup cactus

Abnormally tall claret cup cactus

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2 Responses to Secrets of Capitol Reef National Park

  1. placestheygo says:

    I hope Capital Reef continues to be a secret! It is great fun to travel to this park and have so few people. This spring did bring many more visitors, though. I believe the “Visit Utah” campaign is really working.

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