Capitol Reef National Park

Golden Throne in Capitol Reef National Park
The Golden Throne. Photo: Depositphotos

One of Utah’s best-kept secrets, this south-central park preserves unique geology (including the 100-mile-long Waterpocket Fold, a “wrinkle” in the earth’s crust), a preserved Mormon frontier settlement, and vast wilderness ideal for multiday backpacking trips.

Capitol Reef is further defined by a dry and warm climate (be sure to drink plenty of fluids while hiking in the area) and home to miles of slickrock, a geological feature that is a popular mountain biking attraction in places like nearby Moab, Utah. Much of the ground is covered by cyanobacteria, or cryptobiotic soil, a sort of living crust that is integral to the ecosystem…so watch your step!