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.
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.
Ah yes. What is best for the Utah tourism board is not necessarily good for the parks.
They are selling out their treasures. This year was the first time I cancelled Zion because of endless lines at the shuttle stops (spring break). A ranger told us: If we make it in we would need 2 – 3 hours waiting time to get out again. This is crazy. We love the parks to death. Time to get the gas and oil out of this ‘waste-land’ as some politicians recently started to call the american wild.
Agreed that park congestion is becoming unsustainable. It’s a delicate balance between preservation and recreation in the National Parks, one that I think in some parks is becoming out of sync.