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Capitol Reef

220 mi S of Salt Lake City, UT




241,904 acres


1,227,608 in 2022


Capitol Reef National Park, nestled in south-central Utah, is a hidden gem renowned for its striking geological formations, colorful canyons, and rich human history. Encompassing nearly 100 miles of the Waterpocket Fold—a dramatic wrinkle in the Earth's crust—the park showcases towering cliffs, arches, bridges, and domes, providing a playground for outdoor enthusiasts and photographers alike. Visitors can explore the park's scenic drives, hike along rugged trails to hidden petroglyphs and historic orchards, and marvel at the star-filled skies above its designated International Dark Sky Park. Capitol Reef's unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage offers a captivating journey through time and landscape.


Capitol Reef National Park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, adapted to the harsh desert environment of south-central Utah. Visitors may encounter iconic species such as mule deer, desert cottontails, and rock squirrels amidst the park's rugged landscapes. Birdwatchers can spot golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, and various songbirds soaring overhead, while reptile enthusiasts may glimpse lizards, snakes, and the elusive desert tortoise. The park's riparian areas provide habitat for beavers, amphibians, and a variety of fish, adding to its ecological richness. Exploring Capitol Reef offers opportunities to observe and appreciate the resilience and adaptability of its wildlife amidst the stunning backdrop of colorful canyons and towering cliffs.

Sounds of the Park

Things to Do

Visitors to Capitol Reef National Park can enjoy road tours, hiking, camping, biking, horseback riding, canyoneering, and more. Though Capitol Reef does not receive as much snow as other Utah parks, outdoor activities can still pose a challenge during the winter due to snow and ice.

When to Visit

Capitol Reef National Park has a semi-arid climate, with hot summers, cold winters, and scant precipitation year-round. The transitional seasons of spring (particularly April-May) and fall (particularly September-October) have the most pleasant weather for visiting. To avoid the high crowds that are present those times of year, try visiting mid-week as opposed to on the weekend, and make sure to plan your visit in advance.

Ties to Stephen Mather

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Fun Fact

Capitol Reef National Park gets its name from a series of white sandstone domes reminiscent of the U.S. Capitol building located in the park, and the term "reef," which locally refers to a land barrier that makes travel difficult.

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