The Complete Capitol Reef Trip
Night owls rejoice! This remote region offers stunning displays well into the night.
Exploring The Capitol Reef Region
The Capitol Reef region of Utah, spread out over the center of the state, offers a breadth of activities as wide as the vistas painted against every horizon. Travelers looking to find some solitude, even during peak season, will be rewarded for their decision to pull off the interstate and explore spaces between the beaten paths.
Capitol Reef National Park is defined by The Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile wrinkle in the Earth’s crust that runs all the way from Thousand Lake Mountain in the northwest corner of the park to Lake Powell on the Arizona border. This geological feature has lifted the western portion of the fold over 7,000 feet above the eastern side, offering visitors stunning overlooks, carved over eons and stretching for miles.
Capitol Reef is an official International Dark Sky Park. The park and the surrounding areas are home to some of the darkest skies in the world. Clear, cold nights offer up incredible views of the Milky Way Galaxy, so it’s worth setting an alarm in the dead of night to peek out your tent or hotel window to marvel in the cosmos.
There’s more to Capitol Reef than stellar views and ancient sandstone. Throughout the region are opportunities to get a glimpse at what life was like way back when, as well as get a greater understanding of our impact on the world around us. From abandoned Mormon outposts in the heart of the national park, to unearthed Fremont Indian villages and petroglyphs, the history of this region of Utah is as much human as it is geologic.
Despite its seemingly remote location, the Capitol Reef region still boasts plenty of amenities. From luxury resorts in Torrey, to well-maintained campgrounds at nearly every stop, you’ll be able to explore the rough-hewn landscape without having to rough it yourself.
- Start: From Salt Lake City, drive roughly two hours south east to Helper
- End: From the Fremont Indian State Park head back to Salt Lake City, or extend your stay
- Hours of Driving: 12+ hours, including travel between the region and Salt Lake City
Capitol Reef National Park
Even considering Utah’s many impressive national parks and monuments, it is difficult to rival Capitol Reef National Park’s sense of expansiveness, of broad, sweeping vistas, of a tortured, twisted, seemingly endless landscape, or of limitless sky and desert rock.
Capitol Reef Scenic Drives
Explore the best of Capitol Reef, side trips and nearby drives, including scenic byways.
Dark Skies in Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park in Utah is a designated International Dark Sky Park. Make plans to come see the most magnificent night sky ever!
Fishing Boulder Mountain
From trophy trout to tiger trout and the Arctic grayling, all converge at Boulder Mountain for the catching. Enjoy the added bonus of Southern Utah beautiful scenery.
San Rafael Swell
San Rafael hikes and bike rides offer unique terrain and jaw-dropping scenery. Learn about the area’s trails and start planning your trip!
Torrey to Capitol Reef National Park
On the northern side of Boulder Mountain, near the northeast terminus of Utah's All-American Scenic Byway 12, is the quaint town of Torrey. For most visitors to the area, it is a primary gateway and base camp to Capitol Reef National Park. For cyclists, it has an significance as an important stage finish for the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah professional cycling stage race.
Winter Road Trip: Capitol Reef to Bryce
Need winter vacation ideas? The Capitol Reef to Bryce road trip is great for friends, family and group vacations or getaways. Plan your Utah winter road trip!