Capitol Reef National Park is not one of the most popular of Utah’s Five, but it is every bit as gorgeous as Zion and Arches without the overwhelming crowds. When we told friends and family that we were going to Utah to visit national parks, everyone asked if we were going to Zion. Because of the intense crowds and the extensive wait time just to get into the park, we decided to skip it and visit the less trafficked parks, like Capitol Reef and Canyonlands.
This 200,000 plus acre park was established in 1971 to protect the desert terrain. The park gets about one million visitors per year as compared to Zion, which draws well over four million annually.
Capitol Reef has a 100 mile long narrow, rock wall called Waterpocket Fold which resembles a reef. White Navajo Sandstone tops many of the numerous rock formations, which resembles the same feature found on many of the capitol buildings in the US, thus the name.
One of the highlights for us was seeing the petroglyphs. These drawings of humans look somewhat like stick figures and are at least 1,000 years old; they are incredibly interesting to see. It’s just a short walk along a boardwalk to the viewing area.
The area along the Fremont River is fertile and was a good location for early settlers to live and grow crops. You’ll see more trees here than in the other parks, including hundreds of fruit trees.
There are multiple old structures throughout the area that date back to the mid to late 1800s.
There are many stunning rock formations and interesting geological sites to see throughout the park.
There are some great restaurants in Torrey including Chak Balam, which has the best Mexican food I have ever had. For delicious coffee and a hearty breakfast, head to The Wild Rabbit, and if you’re looking for a farm to table experience, check out Hunt & Gather. I highly recommend all three of these restaurants; the food is fresh and delicious and the service is incredibly friendly.
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Wishing you grand adventures,