Grand Circle] Capitol Reef National Park Half Day Tour

Capitol Reef National Park | Introduction | Travel Notes

Capitol Reef National Park Dome Reef National Park, also known as Capitol Reef National Park, is located in south-central Utah, and is one of the six national parks in Grand Circle, Utah (including Grand Canyon National Park). Dome Reef National Park is famous for its colorful geology and history. The most important topographic feature is the river valley folds, where over 100 kilometers of crushed rock from the continental plates form a continuous cliff that reveals the original gray to brick-red geological structure deep below the surface.

Capitol Reef National Park is more famous than the neighboringZion National Park,Bryce National Park,Arches National ParkCapitol Reef National Park is a small town, but because it is on the road that must be traveled before these national parks, most of the tourists who come to Utah for self-drive tour will pass by here. If you arrange to visit Capitol Reef National Park in your driving itinerary, you should be aware that there are very few places to stay in the nearby towns, not even a few gas stations. The more suitable places to find accommodation are Green River and Tropic, and you need to prepare your lunch first if you spend your lunch time in the park. Torrey is the closest town before Capitol Reef National Park, but it is not very busy. There is a visitor center in the town, so you can get a map here first.

Compare prices for accommodation near Capitol Reef National Park

Compared with other national parks in Grand circle, Utah, the actual area of Dome Reef National Park looks much bigger on the map, but the actual tour time is not very long, because the main scenic routes accessible by car are east-west oriented, and it only takes two to three hours for tourists to finish the tour. For example, on this day, we traveled from Tropic, where we stayed the night before, along Route 12, through the town of Torrey to the scenic route of Dome Reef National Park, and then traveled eastward through the National Park, stopping at Green River, where we stayed on the same day, which took us more than four hours if we didn't stop for a while.


Before entering Dome Reef | Scenic Byway 12 | Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Before entering Dome Reef National Park, this section of Scenic Road 12 is very scenic and worth a visit. This section of the road passes by the grand staircase-escalante national monument and Dixie national forest, the scenery is much better than the Dome Reef National Park area, which is the main focus of the itinerary, and we recommend stopping at the viewpoints along the roadside when you have the chance.

Capitol Reef National Park | Attractions

The route of Capitol Reef National Park is very simple. After entering the park, there is only one road in front of the Visitor Center, just drive all the way forward. The visitor center is in the middle of the road, and near the Fruita Historic District, it is the only place in the park where you will encounter a fork in the road. Turning to the south, you can drive an extra section of the Scenic Drive, and the Scenic Drive to the south can only turn back when you have reached the end of the road, so it is worthwhile to make a detour and take a look at the park. After half a day of enjoying the strange rocks and wonders along the way, we drove out of the Dome Reef Park without realizing it.

Twin Rocks

If you enter the park from the west direction like we did, the first attraction is Twin Rocks, which you can see from the roadside.

Chimney Rock

Chimney rock, not far from Twin rocks, is quite famous. There is a short and nice trail, Chimney rock trail, the view from the high ground is quite nice, if you are not in a hurry, it is worth to come down and walk.

Panorama Point

Panorama point is said to be the best place for air quality in 48 states in the continental United States, with an extremely wide field of view, and when the weather is good, you can see 235 kilometers away (the average field of view is 15 kilometers in Ohio river valley). Looking west of the waterpocket fold from here, the photo shows the Chinle formation under the mountain, the pink wingate sandstone above it, and the gray Navajo sandstone exposed behind the right side. This vast landscape is now at risk from human influence, as air pollution from California and Arizona is gradually affecting the view from Panorama point.

Gooseneck Overlook Trail

The Gooseneck Overlook Trail is only 600 feet long, and at the end of the trail is Gooseneck Point, where the S-shaped canyon cut by Sulphur creek 800 feet deep is clearly visible from the heights.


The Castle

The castle is a rocky outcrop that looks like a castle and is a landmark of Capitol Reef National Park.

Capitol Reef National Park Visitor Center

At the midway point of the journey is the Capitol Reef National Park Visitor Center, which stands amidst the pristine landscapes of the West, and the views are actually quite breathtaking.

Scenic Drive | Grand Wash Cliff

Our strategy was to take the 16km long Scenic Drive to the Grand wash after the visitor center, and save the Fruita Historic District for the rest of the way back. You don't need to know much about the geology to see that the rock textures along the way are different from the rest, and that you're passing through the highlights of the waterpocket folds of the entire Dome Reef Valley.

You need to pay the national park entrance fee to enter the Scenic Drive. The scenery along the way is quite spectacular, so if you have enough time, don't miss this scenic drive. If you have enough time, don't miss this scenic drive. There is a sign at the entrance that says you can't enter when the weather is bad, because if it rains, it will flood suddenly, which will cause a lot of danger. We originally wanted to walk through the Grand wash trail, there is an unpaved road that you need to cross to enter the Grand wash trail, but the weather turned bad soon after we drove in, so we ended up just seeing the Grand wash cliff and left.

There is a viewpoint in front of Capitol gorge where you can see EPH Hanks tower.

Fruita Historic District

After walking the scenic road, we returned to visit the Fruita Historic District, which is the site of many of the Mormon settlers who stayed here. It is not known exactly when these Mormons came here, only that it was around the end of the 19th century. Small settlements were established here, and due to the enclosed terrain and lack of communication with the outside world, the villagers continued to use the old farming methods and lifestyles of the past until World War II, giving these rare remnants of the past a unique and old-fashioned flavor. What remains are the farmhouses and farms of the past.

capitol reef national park, dome reef national park 46

Gifford Farm House

The original house has now been converted into a small store, and the interior still retains traces of the Mormons who lived here in the past.

Petroglyph Panel

In addition to Mormon settlers, Indians have lived here since much earlier. After a short hike, the Petroglyph Panel's entire spectacular wall is still covered with ancient stone carvings.

Pectols Pyramid

Continuing east out of the Fruita Historic District, there are a few more spectacular sights within a short drive, the Pectols pyramid is a pyramid shaped rock.

Capitol Dome

Capitol Dome is a huge semi-circular shaped reef, in fact, Capitol Reef National Park is named after it. The best place to see Capitol Dome is on the Hickman Bridge Trail, but if you don't have time to take the trail, you can see it from the car.

Navajo Dome

Navajo Dome is quite strange and I think it is more special than Capitol Dome.

Hickman Bridge Trail

Hickman bridge trail is of medium difficulty, 0.9 miles one way is not too long, and the trail is generally gentle, but because of the sandy ground and the hot weather, it would take a lot of effort to walk on it. This is a circular trail, with the Hickman Bridge in the middle of the trail. Along with the rocky outcrop next to the bridge, you can climb up to the high point to have a spectacular view of the surrounding area.

Behunin cabin

The Behunin cabin, the last site we visited before leaving the park on the east side, is a brick hut and a remnant of the early settlers, the Behunin family of ten who lived in this tiny, rough-hewn house and made their living in the desert.

Further reading



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