Besides the beauty, Capitol Reef National Park has a lot of history to be told.
Initially inhabited by the native people of the Fremont Culture, then later by Mormon pioneers, it’s like a journey back in time when visiting.
Officially becoming a national park in 1971, this helped protect the fascinating scenery and intriguing past.
You can spend one day in Capitol Reef National Park and be left wanting more.
That’s why I have put together a list of things to do to help make it easier to plan out your one day itinerary, but also making sure you get the most out of your trip.
FAQs – Know Before You Go
It’s normal to have questions before heading on an adventure.
Make sure to do your research so you are up to date on all park rules and regulations.
Here are some common questions that get asked:
Q: Can I bring my pet to Capitol Reef National Park?
A: Leashed pets are only allowed on public roadways, campgrounds, and on the trail from the visitor center to the campground. They are not allowed on any other trails, backcountry routes, or in buildings.
Q: What do I do if I see wildlife?
A: Stay at least 30 feet away, keep your pets on a leash (when in designated areas), and please don’t feed or harass the wildlife.
Q: Can I take home a souvenir when I am out on the trail?
A: Please do not remove any rocks, minerals, plants, fossils or artifacts. You can purchase keepsakes at the Visitor Center. Make sure to check their hours, as they vary season to season.
Q: What are cairns when it pertains to hiking?
A: Cairns are stacked rocks used as navigational tools. When there is no other way to mark a trail, they are put in place to help keep you on track. Please do not build new cairns or take the existing ones down.
Q: How much water should I bring with me on a hike?
A: It’s recommended to carry one gallon of water per person, per day. If you know you are going on a longer, more strenuous hike – you might consider more.
Things To Do In Capitol Reef National Park
Go For A Hike
Capitol Reef National Park has 15 trails varying between easy, moderate, and strenuous.
It is up to you to choose the hike that suits you best, as everyone has different time constraints and physical capabilities.
I’ve highlighted a couple to help you along the way.
Sunset Point Trail
This is a great family-friendly trail, as it is relatively flat, not too rocky, and easy to follow.
Benches are along the hike for anyone needing to take a breather or to look out to the beautiful landscape.
Make sure to protect yourself from the sun during the summer months since there isn’t really any shade along the way.
Another great option to beat the heat is if you plan the timing of this hike right, it’s a great option to watch the sun set.
Can you do Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef in one day? We did and so can you! Just combine this Capitol Reef National Park Itinerary with our guide to one day in Bryce Canyon National Park and you will have a day to remember!
Cassidy Arch Trail
The hike initially starts off as Grand Wash Trail, but about 0.2 miles in on the left you will see the large sign and turn off for Cassidy Arch.
Most of the climbing is done in the first half mile of the hike, but the occasional overlooks are your reward.
A little after a mile in, the trail splits and you will want to take another left.
You can potentially start losing the trail if not observant.
Since you are on slickrock there isn’t a path to follow, but cairns are marking your path as you go.
A small amount of rock scrambling is required before you reach the top to see Cassidy Arch.
From here you can explore the arch for a bit before you head back.
Fun Fact: Did you know that the trail is named after Butch Cassidy, famous bank robber, since he would hide out in the canyons and hills in the area?
There are many stories told on these walls… some could be maps, calendars, or even a specific journey.
Once you arrive at the panel, you will see petroglyphs in a few different areas along the boardwalk.
The most distinct carvings are by the informational signs.
You will see bighorn sheep and anthropomorphs, which are figures in ancient art similar to human beings.
This historic building is over 100 years old and was initially built for large farming families.
Did you know, the first school teacher was only 12 years old?
Today you can see the one room school laid out like it was back in the 1930s.
Back in the late 1890s and early 1900s, Latter-Day Saint pioneers settled in the Fruita area and planted thousands of fruit trees to provide income for their families.
Today, over 1900 fruit trees still exist and are protected.
Park staff continue to maintain these trees using heritage techniques.
You are able to pick fruit that is ripe and labeled with “U-Pick Fruit” signs.
Any fruit taken from the orchard must be paid for at the pay station.
There is a self pay station, scale, and pricing… make sure to bring cash so you can enjoy these fruits days after your visit.
Some of the orchard fruit varieties are apples, peaches, plums, apricots, pears, and cherries.
Keep in mind harvest times vary, so if you have a favorite fruit, make sure to plan accordingly.
Open from March 14 (Pi Day) to the end of October, you can visit this homestead to not only gain historic knowledge of the Mormon settlers who called this their home, but buy baked goods, jams, and items handmade by local craftsmen.
The Capitol Reef Natural History Association renovated and furnished the farm home to replicate living in the 1900s.
Be sure to drop in for one of their well known pies!
Take the Scenic Drive
Leaving from the visitor center and heading south, you can take in the beauty from the comfort of your own vehicle.
The drive is 16 miles roundtrip and can take around 2 hours.
The fee station is soon after you exit the Fruita Historic District on your right, so don’t forget to stop!
As you drive along, there are a few viewpoints for better photo opportunities, like Danish Hill and Slickrock Divide.
You can have a picnic at the end of the 8 mile drive or even continue on the dirt road – make sure your vehicle is up for the challenge.
Don’t Miss: One Day in Arches National Park
Wrapping It Up…
Well there you have it! What more could you ask for in one day at Capitol Reef National Park?
Hiking, beautiful scenery, history, and delicious fruits! If you are interested in staying longer than a day, consider staying at the Fruita Campground or even some of the primitive campsites in the area.