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.