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One Epic Day in Capitol Reef National Park

If you didn't know already, Utah is my favorite state for adventuring! As an avid hiker, there seems to be a different and unique desert landscape to explore everywhere you look. This has led to countless visits, but I still haven't crossed off everything from my list!

Did you know that Capitol Reef National Park is one of the lesser visited national parks of the Utah 5?

It is common for national park goers to pair Arches and Canyonlands together in one trip and Zion and Bryce Canyon in another- leaving Capitol Reef just out of reach!

If you've never thought to visit this Utah park or are putting it off, trust me, it's more than worth a trip! We made it a stop during our voyage to southern Oregon for my third travel nursing contract. Spending only about a day and a half there, we left with a mental list of all the places we need to hit for our next visit!

Park Facts

Years and years of erosion have left behind beautifully exposed layered rock known here as "reefs" or a "water pocket fold."

Accessing many of the popular trailheads could be difficult. Nearly all of the park's features require high clearance vehicles. Roads leading to these destinations off of Highway 24 are often rocky, dirt roads.

The park is just under 242,000 acres and stretches north to south in central, southern Utah in a long and skinny shape.

There is an entrance fee of $20 USD per vehicle to enter the park. A park specific annual pass is $35 USD.

(If you're like us and visit more than a few national parks every year, look into getting an American the Beautiful Annual National Park Pass. They are $80 USD and make getting into every national park and monument a breeze! Passes can be purchased online or at most federal recreation sites)

This is desert country- remember to carry enough water and wear sunscreen, no matter what time of year!

Read More: 4 Hiking Essentials Under $135 Dollars

One Day at Capitol Reef

Cassidy Arch

Planted at the very top of my list of recommendations is a hike to Cassidy Arch! While most of this trail is uphill and without shade, the reward of standing on or near the natural arch is indescribable! Sitting 400 feet above the park's Scenic Drive, this sandstone arch is photogenic from every angle. Visitors even have the opportunity to walk across the arch to snap a picture! Cassidy Arch can also be viewed from Grand Wash or about half way through Cassidy Arch Trail, but you really need to reach the arch to fully appreciate all its beauty! This way easily my very favorite part of our entire trip to Capitol Reef!

Cassidy Arch Trail

Length: 3.1 miles

Elevation Gain: 950 feet

Trail Type: Out & Back

Difficulty Level: Moderate

AllTrails Link: here!

Below is the view of Cassidy Arch from about halfway through the trail!

Hickman Bridge

Standing at 125 feet high and 133 feet long, Hickman Bridge is one of the most popular trails in Capitol Reef. This hike does not require visitors to exert as much effort as Cassidy Arch- following along a relatively flat wash just after a short but steep walk up a mountainside. Accessing the hike is easy, the trailhead is right off of Highway 24.

Hickman Bridge Trail

Length: 1.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 442 feet

Trail Type: Out & Back

Difficulty Level: Moderate

AllTrails Link: here!

Take the remaining afternoon hours and spend some time driving The Capitol Reef Scenic Byway. This drive will allow you to see things like petroglyphs, exposed rock layers, and Capitol Gorge.

Another option if visiting in the late summer is exploring the town of Fruita. Here you have the chance to pick some fruit, snap pictures of the famous Gifford Homestead, and pick up some homemade treats!

Goosenecks and Sunset Point

One thing I love about any time spent in Utah is the sunsets. When the golden rays blanket the sandstone, it commonly makes the rock appear fiery and produces gorgeous photography.

Goosenecks and Sunset Point Trailheads are each accessible by the same parking lot. Both trails are short and easy, offering perfect vantage points for taking in a breathtaking Utah sunset. We were easily able to walk both trails before finally catching sunset at the end of Sunset Point.

An epic finale to a jam-packed day of adventuring!

Goosenecks and Sunset Point Trial

Length: 2.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 544 feet

Trail Type: Out & Back

Difficulty Level: Easy

AllTrails Link: here!

All photos by Olivia Hale Photography

More Utah Hiking: My Top 4 Hikes in Arches National Park

Have you ever visited Capitol Reef National Park? Where was your favorite spot in the park? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Want more hiking inspiration? Follow @hale.on.a.trail on Instagram for more epic outdoor adventures!

"Travel far enough, you meet yourself" -David Mitchell

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