Capitol Reef is one of the National Parks in Utah and rewards those who visit it with amazing hikes and remarkable landscape – a combination of treasures that include cliffs, canyons, domes, and natural stone bridges. First, check out everything you need to know about Capitol Reef National Park, and then read on to discover the best hikes in the park.
Best Hikes in Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef offers amazing hikes – from easy ones being just a short walk from the parking lot to more strenuous ones with breathtaking canyon views and striking natural rock formations. There are 15 hikes in Capitol Reef National Park, and below you’ll find the best ones:
Cassidy Arch is a 3.5 miles (round-trip) moderate/strenuous hike with stunning canyon views leading to a natural arch where you can stand over and gaze at the cave at the bottom and the incredible natural surroundings.
Even though the hike to Cassidy Arch has 670 feet elevation gain, the effort is mild compared to the dramatic landscape along the way. Throughout the hike, you’ll be astonished by the views over the Grand Wash.
I visited Cassidy Arch on a late morning in November and it was definitely my favorite hike in Capitol Reef. There is little shade along the way, so make sure to start early in the morning and carry plenty of water.
And if you want a longer day of hiking, you can add the Grand Wash trail to this hike, since they both start at the same place.
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The Hickman Bridge is another moderate 2-mile hike (round-trip) in Capitol Reef. The hike follows the river and has amazing scenery along the way. At the end of the hike, you’ll be rewarded with a 133-foot natural bridge – a great place to stop for a lunch or snack.
Hickman Bridge is one of the best short hikes to do in Capitol Reef National Park.
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In this easy, 4.4-mile-long trail (round-trip) you’ll walk along a dry riverbed. The best part of the Grand Wash trail is when you go deep into the Narrows – a part of the trail where canyon walls rise to impressive heights and narrow to as little as 20 feet.
Since Grand Wash is a flat walk, it’s also a great hike for children.
Be sure to check the local weather conditions before heading out on this hike, as the trail will accumulate water during heavy rain.
Cohab Canyon is one of the most popular hikes in Capitol Reef. Along this 3.4 miles (round-trip) moderate hike, you’ll enjoy unique views of the Fruita area and the Fremont River.
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The 2 miles (round-trip) of the Capitol Gorge trail will take you through a narrow gorge leading you to pass by petroglyphs and the “register” wall where pioneers headed West carved their names in the 1800s.
Capitol Gorge is a good quick hike at Capitol Reef since it is considered easy and starts at the end of the Scenic Drive.
A short 0.2-mile trail (round-trip) leads to Goosenecks Overlook for one of the most impressive viewpoints of the landscape within Capitol Reef National Park.
For remarkable views of this park on a quick hike (which is an 0.8 miles easy stroll, round-trip), go to Sunset Point. As the name suggests, this is a better place at the end of the day, and it’s the best place to catch the sunset at Capitol Reef with views of the Fremont River Gorge, Capitol Reef Cliffs, and the Henry Mountains from afar.
As I mentioned before, there are 15 hikes in Capitol Reef National Parks, and if you still have time in the park, here are additional hikes to checkout: Fremont River, Chimney Rock Loop, Fremont Gorge Overlook, Frying Pan, Golden Throne, Navajo Knobs, Old Wagon Trail Loop, and Rim Overlook.
Other activities at Capitol Reef National Park
Other must-do activities at Capitol Reef National Park are: drive the Scenic Drive, drive along Highway 24, visit the Fruita Area, and try some baked goods at the Gifford Homestead.
With more time to spare and a proper vehicle (high clearance or 4-wheel drive), you should definitely consider adding a visit to the Cathedral Valley Region.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE TO VISIT OTHER NATIONAL PARKS:
Arches National Park: The Complete Guide to Arches National Park and The Best Hikes in the Park
Bryce Canyon National Park: The Ultimate Guide to Bryce Canyon National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park: First-Timer’s Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park and 3-day itinerary to the park.
Canyonlands National Park: The Complete Guide to Canyonlands National Park
Zion National Park: Best Hikes in Zion National Park
Petrified Forest National Park: How to spend one day in Petrified Forest National Park
OTHER SOUTHWEST ATTRACTIONS:
Monument Valley: The Complete Guide to Visiting Monument Valley
Horseshoe Bend: All You Need to Visit Horseshoe Bend
State Parks: 5 amazing state parks to visit in Utah