Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

National Park · Utah, United States


Capitol Reef National Park is a United States National Park, in south-central Utah. The park is approximately 60 miles long on its north–south axis but an average of just 6 miles wide. The park was established in 1971 to preserve 241,904 acres of desert landscape and is open all year with May through September being the highest visitation months. Located partially in Wayne County, Utah, the area was originally named "Wayne Wonderland" in the 1920s by local boosters Ephraim P.

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Utah boasts 5 national parks, dubbed the “Mighty 5” by the state’s office of tourism. Of these, Capitol Reef is among the last one or two in most people’s minds. That’s only because most people go to national parks for the paved overlooks and short scenic trails. Capitol Reef has those, to be sure, but its roadside attractions are perhaps outshined by places like Zion and Arches. Backcountry enthusiasts should know Capitol Reef, however, as a sprawling playground for desert-rat hikers.
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Out of Utah’s “Mighty 5” national parks, Capitol Reef is often overlooked, but that’s only because this park’s most incredible sights lie far from the road and remain unseen by most. Backcountry enthusiasts should know, however, that Capitol Reef is a sprawling playground for desert hiking. The park’s Scenic Drive and maintained trails might cover some big-ticket landmarks, but anyone willing to disappear down a side canyon is apt to find the most fascinating scenery with no one else around.
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Capitol Reef National Park, one of the many national parks in Utah, contains nearly a quarter million acres in 'slickrock country'. Capitol Reef is a hidden treasure filled with cliffs, canyons, domes, and bridges in the Waterpocket Fold, a geologic monocline (a wrinkle on the earth) extending almost 100 miles.
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Capitol Reef National Park became an International Dark Sky Park in 2015, designating it as one of the best night sky viewing opportunities. The park offers many locations to stargaze, including the Fruita Area, South (Waterpocket) District, and North (Cathedral) District. The park offers many tips and suggestions for visiting Capitol Reef to ensure your safety and an enjoyable experience. Check out the website for more information on night hiking and stargazing.
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If Bryce and Zion are on your radar, consider a trip to Capitol Reef National Park instead. Home to a 100-mile wrinkle in the earth called the Waterpocket Fold, the park’s unique geology and prime location in Utah’s red rock country make it a no-brainer for those seeking out canyons and dramatic desert landscapes. Capitol Reef is also one of the country’s top stargazing spots, so be prepared to make camp.
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