Center of Utah's Mighty Five.

Capitol Reef National Park

Home to the Waterpocket Fold. A unique 100 mile wrinkle in the Earth's crust.

6,000-9,000 Feet

Capitol Reef National Park in Torrey, Utah is a stunning slice of the American Southwest located in south-central Utah. This geological wonderland features the Waterpocket Fold, an immense 100-mile-long wrinkle on the earth’s surface that forms colorful cliffs and canyons. Capitol Reef also boasts warmer temperatures than are found in the mountains to the west, along with very little rain, making it a great destination for outdoor adventurers.

The Waterpocket Fold is the main feature of Capitol Reef National Park and it offers visitors a variety of activities. From hiking to off-roading, traversing around the fold can be an adventure in itself. Visitors can take easy paths along trails such as the Hickman Bridge Trail, which leads to an iconic natural bridge across a narrow canyon. Or they can explore more challenging trails such as the Sunset Point Trail, which takes adventurers up a steep 1.5-mile climb and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.


The cliffs and canyons of Capitol Reef are not just picturesque; they also tell a fascinating story about the geologic history of the area. The Waterpocket Fold formed millions of years ago when the Earth’s tectonic plates shifted, creating a massive wrinkle in the landscape. The region was also shaped by flash floods that carved out deep canyons and created natural bridges like Hickman Bridge.

The Waterpocket Fold

The Waterpocket Fold is a 100-mile-long wrinkle in the Earth’s surface located in Capitol Reef National Park. It features colorful cliffs and canyons, formed millions of years ago when tectonic plates shifted and created a massive ridge. Flash floods have carved out deep canyons and created natural bridges like Hickman Bridge. Visitors to the park can explore the Waterpocket Fold on foot or by car, taking in its stunning views and learning about its geologic history. The fold has become a key feature of Capitol Reef National Park, making it a must-see destination for outdoor adventurers.


The area was first officially documented by John Wesley Powell in 1872 when he named the bright red cliffs “Capitol Reef” because they resembled the US Capitol building. In 1937 President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared 2,377 acres of land as Capitol Reef National Monument, and it was officially established as a National Park in 1971. Since then, the park has grown to about 241,904 acres and is a popular destination for hikers, campers, and anyone looking to explore the wonders of the American Southwest.
Photo gallery


Capitol Reef National Park is home to many different species of wildlife, including coyotes, mule deer, and bighorn sheep. Bird watchers can also find a variety of species such as golden eagles and peregrine falcons. The park is also home to many desert plants like yucca, agave, and wildflowers that bloom during the spring months.

Things to do

Capitol Reef is a great adventure escape and offers a great variety of things to do, with many hiking trails, camping options, ATV/UTV adventures, fishing, jeep rides, horseback riding, llama hikes, hunting, hiking, and slot canyons/canyoneering and countless opportunity to take in a gorgeous desert oasis.

Don’t miss the incredible scenic drive nearly 8 miles long that begins in the historic town of Fruita and ends at Capitol Gorge Road.

points of interest

  • Cassidy Arch
  • Hickman Bridge
  • Grand Wash
  • Cohab Canyon 
  • Chimney Rock Trail
  • Rim Overlook
  • Navajo Knobs
  • Cathedrals Trail
  • Headquarters Canyon 
  • Frying Pan Trail 
  • Halls Creek Narrows

Planning your trip Capitol Reef 

Capitol Reef National Park offers a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you're looking for a peaceful stroll along one of the park's trails, or an adventure off-roading through the Waterpocket Fold, Capitol Reef has something to offer everyone. When planning your visit, consider making reservations at one of the nearby campgrounds or lodges for a comfortable stay. The park offers ranger-led programs and guided hikes that provide insight into the park's geologic history, wildlife, and more. No matter how you choose to explore Capitol Reef National Park, you're sure to have an unforgettable experience in this beautiful slice of the American Southwest.


Capitol Reef National Park offers several lodging and camping options for visitors. The park has two campgrounds, Fruita Campground and Cedar Mesa Campground, both of which offer peace and quiet in the wilderness. For a more comfortable stay, there are also nearby lodges with cabins and RV sites available.

If you want a more luxurious stay, Torrey, Utah and Hanksville, Utah, the nearest towns to Capitol Reef, both have hotels and motels you and your group can choose from.


The area surrounding Capitol Reef National Park is home to several restaurants, cafes and stores where visitors can find snacks and meals. When open, the Gifford House in Fruita has a cafe with food such as sandwiches, burgers and salads. There are also grocery stores in nearby towns like Torrey and Hanksville that offer a variety of food items for purchase.


For entrance fees into the park, there are fees for private vehicles, motorcycles, and bicyclists and people walking into the park. There are also fees for camping and the campground. For more information about fees and permits, visit the national park website for all amounts for Capitol Reef National Park.


Pets are allowed in the park but must be kept on a leash at all times. Pets are not permitted on trails or in the backcountry, so make sure to keep your pet with you at all times and clean up after them. Pets should also be kept away from wildlife, as they can cause harm to native animals.


The best time of year to visit Capitol Reef is spring and fall. Spring and fall offer great weather and less traffic. Winters can have freezing temperatures but can still be enjoyed if weather permits. Summer in this area can get very desert hot and there is more risk of flash floods, be prepared with water and always know the forecast no matter the season.

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