5 Things to See at Capitol Reef National Park

Publish date:

The best viewpoints, trails, and attractions in this under-the-radar park.

Fruita Historic District

The Fruita orchard and barn at Capitol Reef National Park

The Fruita orchard and barn at Capitol Reef National Park

Step back to the time of frontier pioneers at the preserved Fruita settlement, site of a small community from the 1880s to early 1940s.

Visit the Gifford House, built in 1908 by a Mormon settler and occupied until the late ‘60s, for a glimpse of life in historic Fruita. The home now holds a small gift shop and bakery, famous for its delicious pies.

The park maintains the fruit orchards planted by early residents, including apple, peach, pear, and cherry trees, and a one-room schoolhouse still stands in the area.

The Fruita Historic District is located just east of the park’s visitor center.

Sunset Point

Sunset Point in Capitol Reef National Park

Sunset Point in Capitol Reef National Park

The place to be when the sun goes down, Sunset Point has dramatic views over Capitol Reef’s rock formations and lovely evening light.

To reach it, head to the Goosenecks Overlook and pick up the Sunset Point Trail from the parking lot. A short (.3-mile) trail leads right to the overlook.

Rim Overlook Trail

Waterpocket Fold as seen from Strike Valley Overlook in Capitol Reef National Park

Waterpocket Fold as seen from Strike Valley Overlook in Capitol Reef National Park

Hikers looking for excellent views—including the Fruita Historic District, the Waterpocket Fold formation, and rock domes—should head to this 2.3-mile (one-way) trail that leads to a vista 1,000 feet over the park.

Pick it up at the Hickman Bridge trailhead in the Fruita Historic District.

Grand Wash Trail and Cassidy Arch

Near the lower trail entrance to the Grand Wash Trail, take the spur trail to climb 670 feet to Cassidy Arch (named after Butch Cassidy, the famous outlaw who hid out in the area), a thick rock span. The 1.7-mile, one-way, strenuous trail skirts sheer drops and passes striped rock walls en route to the arch.

The Grand Wash Trail in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

The Grand Wash Trail

Want a more family friendly hike? Stay on the Grand Wash Trail, a 2.2-mile, one way trail from the lower trailhead to the upper trailhead. This flat riverbed between two towering canyon walls is an easy hike for all ages. Along the way you'll find many holey rock formations that kids (and adults) love to explore.

Trail overview map for the Grand Wash in Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Gorge Trail

Perfect for a hot, sunny day, this flat riverbed trail gives you shade all day long except for straight-up noon. Leisurely walk 1-mile (one way) past tall canyon walls that look like they've been punched full of holes, the Pioneer Registry where travelers from the 1800's recorded their passage, and "The Tanks," a short steep spur up to water pockets. To get to the trailhead, drive Capitol Reef's Scenic Drive all the way to the end. 

Capitol Gorge Trail in Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Gorge Trail

The Pioneer Registry on the Capitol Gorge Trail in Capitol Reef National Park

Pioneer Registry

Horizontal rule

Need a map? Download an official Capitol Reef National Park map for basic road and attraction locations. For a detailed, topographic trail map, buy the NatGeo Trails Illustrated Map for Capitol Reef National Park at REI.com. The map includes trails, trailheads, points of interest, campgrounds, lakes and much more. Or get the complete Utah National Parks Map Pack with five topographic maps. All of the NatGeo maps are printed on waterproof, tear-resistant material.


The white domes of the Navajo formation are stop #10 on the Capitol Reef scenic drive.

Perfect Day in Capitol Reef National Park

Known for its incredible red-rock formations and its fruit orchard, Capitol Reef National Park is a fantastic place to spend a day or more exploring.

The Hickman Natural Bridge in Capitol Reef National Park

Natural Rock Arches in Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park has over 20 natural arches including the most famous one, Hickman Natural Bridge.

A hiker approaches Wall Street in the Zion Narrow

10 Best Things to Do in Utah National Parks

Be sure to hit one, or all, of the Top 10 Things to do and see in Utah Parks. There’s slot canyons, arches, museums, dinosaurs and more.


Official Capitol Reef National Park Map PDF

A very specific and useful map of Capitol Reef National Park showing roads, features, and entrances.

Spring sunrise in Fruita.

Capitol Reef Orchards in Fruita

It's a surprise to see orchards in the desert. The trees were planted by settlers but are now part of the park. See blossoms in spring and pick fruit in fall.

Watching the sunrise at Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park.

5 Romantic Things to Do in Moab and Nearby National Parks

Surrounded by two national parks with incredible redrock formations, the quirky and lively town of Moab is a great base for a romantic getaway.

Court of the Patriarchs in Zion National Park

7 Top Things to Do in Zion National Park

This gorgeous national park offers breathtaking views, lodging and great educational stops. Here are our top seven.

Park Avenue rock formations in Arches National Park

5 Stops on Arches National Park's Scenic Drive

Don't miss these awe-inspiring sandstone formations in Arches National Park that can be seen after a short stroll from their parking areas.

Glass-ceiling pool house with hot tub at Broken Spur Inn in Torrey, Utah

Broken Spur Inn & Steakhouse near Capitol Reef National Park

For Capitol Reef lodging, stay at one of the closest properties to that famous scenic drive that leads through the park.