I had seen the signs along Highway 15 to a park I had never heard of before, Capital Reef National Park, on my many trips to Zion National Park. The name sounds like the park is misplaced. It should be in California not in the land lock state of Utah. I had to research what this park was all about. “Capitol” refers to the Navajo sandstone cliffs with dome formations that resemble white domes often placed atop capitol buildings. Locally, “reef” refers to any rocky barrier that hinders land travel, similar to a reef in the ocean which is a barrier to sea travel. Capitol Reef became a national park to protect the areas colorful canyons, ridges, buttes, and monoliths. The park is an overdose of magnificent landscapes.
And, if your traveling Utah to specifically see its amazing national parks, it’s an easy decision to see it between visits to Bryce Canyon and Arches. In my case, Bryce Canyon to Escalante and then Arches. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to due any hiking at the park.
My visit would mainly consist of a driving through the scenic drive road. The road is paved and accessible to all vehicles. It does narrow at certain points but it’s not a major problem as everyone is driving slowly to admire the landscape. The drive allows visitors to view many of the parks many formations. There are also two dirt roads you can access from scenic drive which will lead you to multiple trailheads. Also, there are many turnouts for you to use so you can enjoy the view just a little longer and allow the vehicles behind you to pass.
There’s a parking lot at the end of the road where you can stretch your legs and use the restroom, if needed. I decided to walk down to the dried creek near the parking lot to get an obstructed view of the formation in the area.
It’s a humbling experience to be among such beautiful monoliths artistically carved into its current masterpiece form over thousands of years. On my way out, I decided to mount my GoPro to my car door. It turned out just a little shaky but it did capture the beauty of the drive and accounts for most of the footage I provided below. I would recommend giving yourself 90 minutes to two hours, depending on how many stops you decide to make, in order to do this drive. You would also add time if you wish to hike one of it’s trails.
There are several turn outs along Highway 24 as well, and additional trailheads. Before I made my way down the highway, I decided to stop at the petroglyphs. The parking lot is just about a mile east from the scenic drive. The art work is an example that aliens did visit us in the past. I know, it’s just a poor representation of man by earlier natives.
Capital Reef is an amazing depiction of the southwest with its many colors and rock formation. The scenic drive definitely depicts the beauty of the park. I just wish I had more time to take in one of the parks many trails.