One-Day Capitol Reef Itinerary

The barn of the pioneer Gifford Farmhouse in Capitol Reef
The Gifford Farmhouse in Capitol Reef. Photo © donyanedomam/123rf.

The longer you stay in Capitol Reef, exploring its details, the better it gets. If you only have one day to spend in the park, start with this one-day Capitol Reef itinerary.

Morning

Wake up with a walk among the pioneer-era orchards at the cliff-lined village of Fruita and take in the visitors center. Hike the 2.5-mile round-trip Fremont River Trail, which starts at the Fruita Campground and climbs from the oasis-like valley up to a viewpoint that takes in the orchards, Boulder Mountain, and the reef’s arched back.

Afternoon

Back in Fruita, unpack your picnic lunch at the shady picnic area of the Gifford Farmhouse, a renovated pioneer home in the verdant Fremont River valley. For a longer after-lunch hike, the Capitol Gorge cuts a chasm through the Capitol Reef lined with petroglyphs, pioneer graffiti, and towering rock walls.

Evening

There are no dining options in the park, so you’ll need to drive 11 miles west to nearby Torrey for dinner, where the Cafe Diablo is famed for its excellent southwestern cuisine.

Extending Your Stay in Capitol Reef

The longer you stay in Capitol Reef, exploring its details, the better it gets. Serious hikers and backcountry motorists should take 2-3 days for a full exploration of the park.

Book a room in Torrey, settle in, and hit a few of the park’s longer trails, such as the Old Wagon Trail Loop and the Chimney Rock Trail. Both are about four miles round-trip.

Take the 70-mile scenic drive along Notom-Bullfrog Road, along which you’ll see the eastern side of Waterpocket Fold. Don’t forget to attend a ranger-guided event, especially if they’re offering stargazing or moonlight walks.


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Red rock spire in Capitol Reef NP. Pinterest Graphic.