3 Days in Capitol Reef National Park

Hickman Bridge Panorama with boulders in the foreground, and it clear blue sky in Capitol Reef national Park

Visiting Capitol Reef National Park with maps was an awe-inspiring journey into the heart of Utah’s striking red rock landscapes. Nestled in the Waterpocket Fold, a geologic monocline that stretches for nearly 100 miles, the park offered a mesmerizing blend of rugged canyons, towering cliffs, and unique rock formations. As we explored the park’s scenic drives and hiking trails, we encountered breathtaking sights such as the iconic Capitol Dome, Hickman Bridge, and the stunning red cliffs of Cathedral Valley.

The 5 top things to do at Capitol Reef National Park:

1. Visit the Fruit Area

2. Hit the road on Hyw. 24

3. Hike to Hickman Bridge

4. Drive the Burr Trail Road

5. Visit the Pando at Fish Lake

It is 230 miles from Baker Nevada to Torrey Utah just outside of Capitol Reef National Park. This made the drive about 290 miles. This was the 2nd stop on a 3 destination road trip. To see the start of this road trip click ,here

The Campground

Upon arrival in Torrey, we stayed at the Wonderland RV park for 3 nights in a full hookup site just 3 miles from the park entrance. It was a very nice park with plenty of room between sites.

The Fish Lake area in Utah is a breathtaking natural gem, offering a wide range of outdoor activities and scenic vistas. The main attraction is Fish Lake itself, which is famous for its crystal-clear waters teeming with trout and other fish species. The surrounding mountains and forests offer ample opportunities for hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing, with stunning vistas of the surrounding valleys and mountain ranges.

Fish lake, national forest sign with trees in the background
Orange aspen trees with the lake and a cloudy blue sky

Pando, consisting of quaking aspen trees, spreads by sprouting new trees from its parent root. It comprises around 47,000 genetically identical trees, functioning as a single organism. While large, it falls short of the largest organism title held by Oregonian fungal mats.

Yellow aspen trees

The Fruita area, once known as Junction and settled way back in the 1870s is a former farming community famous for its orchards. We had the chance to pick apples straight from the trees to munch on during our lunch. We also took a stroll around the area and took in the sites Including the famous Fruit Barn.

Mick on a ladder picking apples in capitol Reef national Park
Fruita Barn with a fence around it, and red cliffs in the background in Capitol Reef national Park

And that’s not all – we hit the road on Highway 24 to take in the stunning scenery of the area.

A boulder in the foreground and red cliffs, and a blue sky in the background in Capitol Reef National Park
Jagged cliffs with boulders and a blue sky. Capitol Reef National Park
Colorful mountain panorama with puffy clouds in a blue sky
Jagged red cliffs at sunset with a puffy  cloud in blue sky in Capitol Reef national Park

Hike to Hickman Bridge

The next morning we were up early and did the hike to Hickman Bridge. The hike to Hickman Bridge is a popular activity In Capitol Reef for nature lovers visiting the park. The trail, which is approximately 1.7 miles round trip, leads hikers through stunning desert landscapes, past towering rock formations, and across a babbling stream. The highlight of the hike is reaching the Hickman Bridge, an impressive natural arch spanning over 120 feet across and standing at 133 feet high. The bridge is a breathtaking sight to behold and provides hikers with incredible photo opportunities. The trail is considered to be moderate in difficulty and is suitable for families with older children.

Google map with the route marked in red to Hickman Bridge in Capitol Reef National Park
Yellow and brown rock formations with trees in the foreground
The backside of Hickman Bridge with sunlight on the boulders in Capitol Reef National Park
Hickman bridge with boulders in the foreground and a blue sky
Lorna and Mick in front of Hickman bridge with a blue sky

My ,Canon 24-105mm f4 lens with a ,polarizing filter is one of my favorites for landscape photos. See my photo gear, here

The Burr Trail Road

Driving the Burr Trail Road in Capitol Reef National Park is a truly exhilarating experience. We drove along the scenic Burr Trail Road, covering about 125 miles from Fruita to Torrey with a good portion of it being on dirt roads, and the rugged terrain along the Burr Trail Switchbacks up to Boulder made it one of the highlights of our trip.

Google map with trail marked in blue
Dirt road with trees, and a cloudy blue sky
Red Hills with mountains in the background and a cloudy blue sky
Dirt road switch bags with a cloudy blue sky

In conclusion, Capitol Reef National Park with maps in Utah is a hidden gem for nature lovers, offering a wide range of activities for visitors to enjoy. From picking apples straight from the orchards to hiking to the impressive Hickman Bridge, there is no shortage of things to do in this beautiful part of the state. The scenic Burr Trail Road provides a stunning drive with breathtaking views of the rugged terrain along the way. Whether you are traveling with your family or on your own, Capitol Reef offers something for everyone. So, plan your visit and explore this wonderful destination for an unforgettable experience in the heart of nature.

Do you want to know where the next leg of the trip went to? Find out here!

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I stressed the need for good rain gear in our Olympic National Park post. Additionally, I keep a cheap rain poncho in the truck for sudden showers.

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