Capitol Reef National Park scenic landscape and hiking guide.

The Best Hikes in Capitol Reef National Park

by | Mar 12, 2023

There are plenty of ways to explore Capitol Reef National Park. But hiking definitely ranks high among the list of most popular activities.

Hitting the trails is one of the best ways to experience the natural beauty that the park is known for. Capitol Reef is home to more than a dozen hiking trails, including options that range from family-friendly hikes to more challenging day treks totaling 10 or more miles roundtrip.

Staying at The Chuckwagon is a great way to make the most of your time in the park. Located less than five miles from the park’s entrance, our Torrey hotel makes it easy to get to Capitol Reef early in the day to hit the trail before it gets hot or popular trails get busy. It’s also quick and easy to head back to your room after a long morning of hiking to take a nap or go for a dip in the pool.

Ready to start planning your next visit to The Chuckwagon and Torrey, Utah? Keep reading to learn a few of the best hikes in Capitol Reef to enjoy during your stay.

Hickman Bridge Trail

One of the best hiking trails in Capitol Reef, as well as one of the most popular, is Hickman Bridge Trail. This easy trail is just 1.7 miles roundtrip. It follows the meandering Fremont River, before taking hikers past the incredible Hickman Bridge. This natural bridge spans 133 feet, with the trail passing directly under the arch. While the trail has just 400 feet of elevation change, it is rocky and uneven, making it a better choice for families with older children.

During the height of the summer and around holiday weekends, this is often one of the busiest trails in the park, which means that parking spaces may fill up. Plan to hike this trail first thing in the morning to get a spot.

Fremont River Trail

Another great option for families with older kids or anyone looking to enjoy a great view without a tough hike is the Fremont River Trail. Like Hickman Bridge Trail, this one follows the Fremont River for an easy stroll. Then, it has a steep climb to a stunning overlook.

This trail is around 2 miles roundtrip, and is also rated “Moderate.” If you’re hiking with younger kids, you can always turn around to head back before the steep climb, and still enjoy the hike along the river.

Grand Wash Trail

The Grand Wash Trail is a great option for families with kids of all ages. It’s a little longer than the first two trails on this list, at 2.4 miles roundtrip. But this trail is flat, and rated “Easy.”

On this hike, you’ll wander through deep canyons with layers of colorful exposed rock. You’ll even get to “squeeze” through a narrow section of a slot canyon, with sandstone walls rising some 16 feet on either side of you.

Cassidy Arch Trail

For experienced hikers looking for the best hikes in Capitol Reef for a challenge, Cassidy Arch Trail is a great choice. At just 1.7 miles one-way, this is far from the longest trail in the park. But the steep, winding path makes it one of the more difficult. Besides seeing the famous Cassidy Arch, another natural stone arch, you’ll also walk part of the famous Grand Wash, and enjoy great views of the Waterpocket Fold.

The trail got its name from a legend that said that famous Old West legend Butch Cassidy once traveled through the park near where this trail is now while on the run with his band of outlaws.

Rim Overlook Trail

Another challenging day hike is Rim Overlook Trail. This trail is just 2.3 miles one-way but covers more than 1,110 feet of elevation change. The trail is strenuous, and not for the inexperienced hiker. But if you’re up for the challenge, you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of Fruita far below you, as well as the Waterpocket Fold stretching out in front of you.

Choosing the Best Hikes in Capitol Reef

Now that you know a few of the best hikes in Capitol Reef, it’s time to start planning which ones you’ll enjoy during your next stay at The Chuckwagon. Make a list of the hikes that you think best suit you and your family. You can also stop by the park’s visitor center at the start of your trip to talk to a ranger about trail conditions and closures, and to pick up a map.

If you’re thinking about visiting Capitol Reef National Park in 2023, now is a great time to book your stay. Right now, when you book a stay of three or more nights at The Chuckwagon, you’ll enjoy a 25 percent discount on your entire booking. Book today to see what makes our hotel one of the best places to stay in Torrey.

The Chuckwagon Blog

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