Capitol Reef National Park Itinerary

From ancient rock art to scenic arches and freshly baked pie, this itinerary showcases some of our favorites at this uncrowded national park.

Three Days, Two Nights in Capitol Reef National Park

Drive to Capitol Reef National Park.

  • From Salt Lake City: 3 hours 24 minutes, 218 miles
  • From Las Vegas: 5 hours 3 minutes, 327 miles
  • From Zion National Park: 3 hours 5 minutes, 174 miles
  • From Arches National Park: 2 hours 4 minutes, 133 miles

Check into accommodations.

Stop for lunch in Torrey on your way into the park. 

Drive into the park. 

Stop at the Capitol Reef Visitor Center. Pick up a map and watch the film “Watermark” to learn about the unique geologic history of the area. 

Drive the Scenic Drive.

This well paved road extends for 10 mi/16 km into one of the most beautiful areas of the park, with views of the endlessly differing rock formations and the epic 100-mile long Waterpocket Fold. Optional spurs will take you beyond the pavement into Grand Wash and Capitol Gorge, and can be driven using ordinary passenger cars, weather permitting. 

Hike to Cassidy Arch (3.5 miles, moderate).

Ready to see a truly fascinating arch? Named after the famous outlaw Butch Cassidy, Cassidy Arch is located in the central portion of Capitol Reef National Park, specifically just within the western walls of Grand Wash beside the Scenic Drive. It’s best to hike it in the morning, since summer temperatures can reach triple digits and late-summer afternoons often play host to monsoon storms. Be sure and pack water. From the Capitol Reef Visitor Center, drive south along the Scenic Drive 3.5 mi/ 5.6 km to Grand Wash Road. Turn left onto Grand Wash Road and drive to the trailhead at the end of the road. 

Return up the Scenic Drive. 

Travel towards the visitor center, then drive back to your accommodations. 

Have dinner.

Eat at one of the great restaurants in the area.

Day Two

Hike to Hickman Bridge (2 miles roundtrip, moderate).

This is a fun, moderately challenging hike to an impressive natural bridge. The trailhead is located along Highway 24 at a signed turnoff about two miles east of the visitor center. The trail is well maintained and easy to follow. It earns a moderate rating thanks to a few fairly steep sections.

For most of the trail you will be exposed to full sun, so be sure to wear sunscreen. As with yesterday’s hike, we recommend starting in the morning — the earlier the better. It’ll be easier to enjoy the scenery in cooler weather. 

Explore Fruita.

Eat lunch at the park near the visitor center. Bring a packed lunch with you, or enjoy some freshly picked fruit from the Historic Fruita Orchards (when in season). The orchards not only deliver some fruit picking fun, but make for a beautiful walk at any time of the year. You can even head to the historic Gifford House and grab homemade ice cream and delicious pies (freshly baked with local fruit of course). 

As you eat your lunch of choice, share the area with the deer that sometimes stroll through this park. After lunch, visit some of the historic buildings in town and be sure to check out the old one room schoolhouse. 

View the Rock Art along Hwy 24.

Drive to the “Petroglyph Pullout” on Utah Hwy 24, 1.5 mi/2.4 km east of the visitor center. View rock art left by the Fremont people who lived in this area from about A.D. 700 to 1300. From the parking area, a short path leads to the base of the Wingate Sandstone cliff, where you’ll find the petroglyphs. A telephoto lens comes in handy if you want to get close-up photographs. The rock art is very fragile and is for viewing only. 

Another pathway leads east along the base of the cliff for about 500 feet, providing more views of this ancient art. 

Exit the park.

Enjoy the sunset views as you leave Capitol Reef and head back to your accommodations.

Day Three

Pack Up and head home.

Check out of your accommodations and begin the drive home. 

Take the long way.

Drive All American Road Hwy 12 along the eastern side of Boulder Mountain, stopping at the viewpoints to gaze down over Capitol Reef National Park. Continue on Hwy 12 through scenic sections of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a corner of Bryce Canyon National Park and beautiful Red Canyon



12 UT-24
Torrey, UT

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