The summer season has arrived in Southern Utah, and with it, the busiest season for tourists. This means that popular parks like Zion and Arches National Park will begin to see their crowd levels rise. On weekends and around the summer holidays, it isn’t unusual for traffic to back up or lines to form for popular trails and overlooks in both parks. Even Capitol Reef National Park, Utah’s fourth most-visited national park, will see higher than usual crowds this time of year.
Even on a busy day in Capitol Reef, you can find a trail or wilderness area that’s free of crowds. But if you’re looking to enjoy some more open, scenic views during your stay at our Capitol Reef resort, you’re in luck—Southern Utah has plenty to offer! Keep reading to learn about a few scenic spots to enjoy throughout Southern Utah during your stay at Chuckwagon Lodge.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
If you’re looking for a way to get away without driving too far from our Capitol Reef resort, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a great choice. While it may not have the distinction of a national park, the monument’s rock formations and stunning landscapes rival those of Zion and Bryce Canyon.
Here you’ll find arches, forests, waterfalls, hills, canyons, and more. But unlike the state’s national parks, this lesser-known destination sees far fewer visitors each year. Covering more than 1.9 million acres, you’ll have no trouble finding a hiking trail that you’ll have all to yourself.
Grand Staircase-Escalante is just an hour from Chuckwagon Lodge, making it a great choice for a day trip or even an afternoon adventure.
Located nearly four hours from our Capitol Reef resort, this next scenic destination is a bit further than most of the places on this list. But this iconic destination is well worth the trip if you’re up for a drive during your stay at Chuckwagon Lodge.
Located on the border between Arizona and Utah, Monument Valley is a part of the Navajo Tribal Park, within the 16 million-acre Navajo Reservation. This destination is as massive as it is incredible. The park’s towering buttes and rock formations have featured in a number of films over the last century. Plus, the very structure of the park itself lends itself to enjoying it in solitude.
The Scenic Drive is Monument Valley’s main attraction. A one-way 17-mile self-driving tour, the dirt road takes you past the park’s most iconic features. While there are plenty of pull-offs along the way for snapping photos, there aren’t many hiking trails that you are allowed to take without a guide along. But the stunning sights more than make up for it.
Cedar Breaks National Monument
Another example of a national monument that could easily pass for a national park is Cedar Breaks. With similar rock formations to the iconic ones found at Bryce Canyon National Park, the amphitheater here is smaller, but no less majestic.
Located 10,000 feet above sea level, Cedar Breaks National Monument sees its share of snow all winter long. While the monument remains open all year, the scenic drive through the park, Highway 148, closes in the winter and reopens in late May or early June, through mid-November most years. When the roads are clear, head for Rim Drive. Here you’ll find several shorter hikes with great views of the canyon.
Cedar Breaks National Monument is around two-and-a-half hours from our Capitol Reef resort and is a great day trip, especially on days when the national parks tend to be busy, such as around the Fourth of July.
Snow Canyon State Park
At around three-and-a-half hours from Torrey, Utah, this next park is another that will take you a full day to drive to and enjoy. But Snow Canyon State Park is one of Southern Utah’s often-overlooked gems.
In Snow Canyon State Park, you’ll find hiking, climbing, horseback riding trails, and more, all set beneath towering sandstone cliffs. Located adjacent to Snow Canyon is a massive piece of federally protected land where off-roading is the main attraction. With large expanses of sand dunes, rocky surfaces, grasslands, and more, you’ll find every type of landscape to test your skills or enjoy a thrilling ride. Even during the busy season, the size of the preserve means that you’ll have plenty of room to yourself. Bring your own off-road vehicle, rent one from one of the many local rentals.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
Another popular destination for off-roading is Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Thousands of years of eroding sandstone cliffs lead to the formation of this incredible set of sand dunes. Depending on the time of day and the light, the dunes change from a deep red to a light pink color. If you don’t want to ride an ATV or UTV, you can also enjoy the dunes with hiking or sledding.
This Utah state park is a little closer to our Capitol Reef resort, at around three hours of driving.
Planning Your Capitol Reef Resort Stay
Whether you want to escape the crowds on a busy day in one of Utah’s Mighty 5 or just want to experience something different during your next Capitol Reef resort stay, any of these scenic destinations is a great choice.
Ready to start planning your next stay at Chuckwagon Lodge? Right now is a great time to book your visit. When you book a stay of three or more nights, you’ll enjoy a 30 percent discount. Book today to take advantage of these savings.