Located in south-central Utah, Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden treasure filled with gorgeous red rock formations that include cliffs, canyons, domes, and bridges in a geologic wrinkle on the earth. (literally)
We were road-tripping to Mars and chose to do the scenic route back home. This amazing drive included some breathtaking sandstone scenery through Capitol Reef National Park and iceskating on Fish Lake!
Fish lake was frozen over when we went, which made it both sketchy and beautiful! If you look at the first image, you can actually see the ice cracking around me! I’m not scared, you’re scared.
If you’re in the area, I highly recommend making a stop here to check it out. I hear its absolutely gorgeous in the spring and summer as well! To see more photos of Fish Lake National Forest, including some AMAZING hot springs, click here!
Capitol Reef National Park
The Waterpocket Fold makes up Capitol Reef National Park. It is a nearly 100-mile long warp in the Earth’s crust. It’s estimated that the formation occurred between 50-70 million years ago. Movement along the fault caused the west side to shift upwards. The overlying sedimentary layers were draped above the fault and formed a monocline. Basically, nature is awesome and we are lucky enough to be able to see these formations with our own eyes!
Simply driving along Highway 24, you’ll literally drive through the park. Even if you just do the drive, it’s totally worth it! Check out these views literally taken out the car window while going full-speed. Pretty awesome.
If you choose to simply drive through the park, the Scenic Drive is 7.9 miles of awesomeness.
Hiking Capitol Reef
Since we were doing a drive-through of the park and not doing a full day here, we chose to just stop a few places along the way. You can easily pull off the road anywhere and do short hikes along the way. We definitely weren’t disappointed!
Chimney Rock Trail
These next photos make me laugh. It was really windy at the top. In the first photo, I look like an eagle perched on a cliff. If you look at the second photo, my hair is a real hot mess. Doesn’t get any better. I have no shame showing it because it’s hilarious. You’re welcome.
This hike is right off the road and has some amazing rock formations and views. I highly recommend it, even if you don’t do the entire hike. The full hike is a 3.6-mile loop and is considered strenuous. You’ll get panoramic views of Waterpocket Fold cliffs and if you hit it during sunset or sunrise, it’s breathtaking!
Hickman Bridge is one of the most popular attractions at Capitol Reef National Park. It’s a large natural arch in a scenic side-canyon far above the Fremont River. It’s surrounded by the great white domes of Navajo sandstone that the national park is known for. It’s also easy to get to! It’s only a 1.2-mile hike from UT 24.
Capitol Reef Petroglyphs
To reach the trailhead from the junction of Highway 24 and Highway 12 in Torrey, UT: Drive east on Highway 24 for 10.9 miles. Turn left (north) into the signed parking area for the petroglyphs. Super short walk with beautiful views. We also watched a bald eagle flying above them which made it super neat!
You can easily spot the petroglyphs along the route. They also have binoculars along the route to see them up close. This trail is super easy and can be done by all ages and fitness levels.
A quick walk up will give you some beautiful canyon views. You can also walk down to the road. Watch for traffic, of course. That’s my disclaimer so no one sues me.
Capital Reef National Park has even more to offer! Not only can you do the scenic drive and hike, but you can also go fishing, horseback riding, rock climbing, join a ranger on a tour, and even camp! It’s a great place to visit to see Mother Nature’s art at it’s finest.
Have you been to Capital Reef?