things to do in capitol reef national park

Things to Do in Capitol Reef National Park

by | Jul 20, 2023

Utah is home to five incredible national parks. While Zion and Arches National Park tend to get the most recognition, the other three members of the Mighty 5 are equally as beautiful and unique.

Capitol Reef National Park, the fourth most-visited of the Mighty 5, is located just outside of the town of Torrey, a short distance from Chuckwagon Lodge. It’s known for its red rock desert landscapes, formed as a result of the Waterpocket Fold, a giant wrinkle in the earth’s crust that passes through the middle of the park. 

The landscapes aren’t the only thing that’s unique about the park; there’s also plenty of things to do in Capitol Reef National Park that you won’t find in other parks.

Things to Do in Capitol Reef National Park

From off-road adventures to fruit-picking to incredible hiking trails, there’s no shortage of ways to experience the park. And Chuckwagon Lodge, one of the best hotels in Torrey Utah, is the perfect base camp for exploring the park.

Let’s take a look at some of the best things to do in Capitol Reef National Park.

Take a Scenic Drive

Perhaps the easiest and most rewarding ways to explore Capitol Reef’s unique beauty is with a drive. The Scenic Drive is a 7.9 mile paved road that winds through many of the park’s most famous features. You’ll find tons of stops along the way where you can enjoy the view of the Waterpocket Fold.

Another great drive is the Notom-Bullfrog Road. This unpaved route requires an off-road or four-wheel drive vehicle. But if you’re up for the challenge, you’ll get to enjoy some of Capitol Reef’s most remote corners


One of the most popular things to do in Capitol Reef National Park is hiking. The park boasts an impressive array of hiking trails, with options for every experience level. 

Hickman Bridge Trail is a two-mile round trip hike that leads to the Hickman Natural Bridge, a massive, 133-foot wide sandstone arch. Grand Wash Trail is another relatively easy option at 4.4-miles. This trail winds through a narrow canyon with towering walls. For a more challenging hike, head to Cassidy Arch Trail. While it’s only 3.4-miles round trip, this hike has some steep views as you make your way to Cassidy Arch, named after famous outlaw Butch Cassidy.

Fruit Picking

Among the most unique things to do in Capitol Reef National Park is fruit picking. Within the confines of Capitol Reef is a historic town that was once home to early settlers who farmed the area before it became a national park. Those settlers planted fruit orchards that are still maintained by the park today.

Guests can wander the orchards, and, when the fruit is in season, even pick some to enjoy. Different types of trees are available for harvest from mid-summer to late-fall. Self-pay stations are available in the orchards, as well as tools to help with your harvest. You can also stop by the Gifford Homestead to purchase fresh, homemade fruit pies and learn more about picking your own fruit.

Go Off-Roading

If you want to get off the beaten path during your stay in Capitol Reef National Park hotels, an off-road adventure is a great choice. Capitol Reef is one of the few national parks that allows visitors to go off-roaring. 

With a permit, you can explore some of the park’s rugged routes, which are mostly located in the Cathedral Valley section of the park. If you don’t have your own off-road vehicle, you can also book a tour and explore routes like the Cathedral Valley Loop or Strike Valley Overlook with a trained and experienced guide.


Whether you’re planning to explore Capitol Reef during your visit or not, one must-do during your stay in hotels in Torrey Utah is stargazing. 

The town of Torrey, Utah is one of two International Dark Sky Communities in Utah. Capitol Reef is an International Dark Sky Park. This means that both locations offer some incredible stargazing come nightfall.

Planning a Stay in Capitol Reef National Park Hotels

With so many things to do in Capitol Reef National Park, you’ll want to plan to spend several days in Torrey Utah during your visit. Chuckwagon Lodge offers comfortable, unique Torrey accommodations great for exploring all that the park has to offer Our hotel is located just minutes from the entrance to Capitol Reef. This makes it easy to maximize your time in the park during your stay.

Looking for another reason to plan a visit to Capitol Reef National Park hotels? How about the chance to save on your next stay? When you book a stay of three or more nights at Chuckwagon Lodge before October 31, you’ll save 25 percent on your booking. Book today to take advantage of these savings!

The Chuckwagon Blog

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