Visit Capitol Reef National Park // The Great Outdoors


I am a big proponent of loving where you live. Moving is hard. We have tried to ease our transition to our new homes by exploring nearby places that make our area unique: DC area (here, here, here, here and here), Oregon (here, here, here, and here) and Utah (here). It helps when you move to a state with truly breathtaking scenery.  Did you know that Fodor rated Utah the number one travel destination in 2016? If you enjoy the outdoors, Utah has something to offer almost everyone who likes being outside: Skiing (more on that another time), backpacking, hiking, camping, and so many great destinations.  Utah is also home to spectacular national parks, including Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zions, Arches, and Canyonlands.


A few months ago, my family and our fantastic friends from Virginia spent a few days at Capitol Reef National Park, located in southern Utah.

We used a very scientific method to choose Capitol Reef: where could we stay in the most affordable (but decent) accommodations that were closest to the park, with hikes that were accessible to kids ranging 5-12, and places to eat nearby? Capitol Reef won in a landslide.  We stayed at the Capitol Reef Resort (resort is used loosely but it was clean, convenient, had a fridge, and had breathtaking views. And a pool. And was 5 miles from the park. Win, win, win).


view from our hotel room

We hiked. We carried babies. We took pictures. The kids completed the Junior Ranger program. We ate (nearby Torrey had some decent options for food, which was nice).


We hiked some more. We complained, a little. I left my ergo (nooooooooo!) so we hiked the last day with babe in arms. Not ideal. We visited historic Capitol Reef, an early Mormon settlement, where the orchards still produce fruit in Fruita. We picked apples and pears. It was awesome. We also visited petroglyphs that were most likely made by the Fremont Culture, from 600-1300AD.


this short walkway leads to the petroglyphs

I took a million photos on my iPhone. None of these are photoshopped, or digitally enhanced in any way. Capitol Reef had a flair for the dramatic. We loved it.


can you spot my husband? these rocks are gigantic


our note so tiny pilot–this is part of the scenic driving loop

Note: Capitol Reef is a pretty disability-friendly park. You can see almost everything by car, there are boardwalks (a very short walk) from the parking lot to see the petroglyphs, and there is a beautiful scenic drive that takes you past all sorts of formations.


we loved seeing the arch that is forming in the background…it should be finished in a few million years

We hiked the Chimney Rock Trail (where we kept telling the kids it was only a little bit further, for about 2 hours. And I got to have an epic Harry Potter conversation with my son and our teen friend). We hiked Grand Wash, which due to the rain had lived up to its name and had been a wash the day before. This meant mud. Lots and lots of mud. The kids thought it was amazing. Our hiking boots will never be the same. We went five times as far as we planned, which meant we didn’t have enough food, and they were starving, which meant I taught them “this is the song that doesn’t end” and we sang it for the last half hour of our trip. These are the things memories are made of, folks.

If you have a fourth grader, they get a NPS family pass for free! Hilariously, we visited a few days before the pass was valid. Anyway. I can’t wait to visit some of the other nearby parks (Capitol Reef is about a 3.5-4 hour drive from Salt Lake City). If you are interested, there are a lot of great places to find information on Utah’s National Parks. National Geographic has a write up here, is a beautiful tourism website with lots of great information, and of course lots of info on the National Parks site.


Happy Adventuring.

*not a sponsored post–we just really loved our trip*

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  1. Annabelle Hammer
    Posted December 11, 2015 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    My son has lived in SLC for about 6 years now. We enjoy our visits to Utah. Capitol Reef was one of our favorite camping and hiking trips.

    • Katie Blakesley
      Posted December 11, 2015 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

      Such a beautiful place. Coming from Virginia and Oregon, where green is king, I was blown way by how beautiful it was!

      • Annabelle Hammer
        Posted December 11, 2015 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

        I live in Northern Virginia! But my kids did not want to stay in this area. So my son has been in SLC for several years and my daughter just moved to Denver a few months ago. They love the mountains out west and the laid-back lifestyle. Once my husband and I retire from working for Uncle Sam, we will head out west too.

  2. Posted December 11, 2015 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Awesome! My husband is an NPS ranger at Gettysburg so I can really appreciate this. :)

    • Katie Blakesley
      Posted December 11, 2015 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

      I think that would be such an interesting job. We went to Gettysburg years ago, how cool that your husband works there.

  3. Jenni
    Posted December 11, 2015 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    I totally want to hi to capital reef now! Awesome review! My sister lives in kaysville and has some great hikes she does locally. Utah is an amazing place!

  4. Karen
    Posted December 11, 2015 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    After we both retired a few years ago, we spent almost 3 months in the West, visiting National Parks. Neither of us had ever been to Utah and were completely blown away! The scenery was amazing–maybe the whole state should be a National Park :) We really loved Capitol Reef, too. From out campsite one afternoon we watched two young men RUN to the top of a cliff, disappear (they must have run around out-of-sight for a while!) and then RUN back down–Yikes! We camped against a fence and petted a horse on the other side, picked some end of season apples, and ate some delicious pie from the little farmhouse on the property. Thanks for the good memories and your photos are terrific, fancy camera or not!

    • Katie Blakesley
      Posted December 11, 2015 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      what a fantastic sounding trip!!!! And I don’t know how anyone could run to the top :)

  5. Erin M.
    Posted December 11, 2015 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Looks lovely, we just spent Thanksgiving break at Death Valley and enjoyed the rocks and scenery. You’re making me think I need to check how long it takes to get from San Francisco to Capital Reef. :)

    • Katie Blakesley
      Posted December 11, 2015 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      I’ve only ever drive through death valley, but i know there are parts that are just amazing. I think its about 11 hours from SF to SLC, and then a few more. You could totally make a trip out of it–the park is giant!

  6. Posted December 12, 2015 at 4:35 am | Permalink

    We love Utah and all the National Parks there. Canyonlands is our favorite, but we never skip Capitol Reef. The first time we visited was in 1978! Then for 25 years or so we didn’t cross the ocean. Since the year 2000 we visited the USA almost every year. We always go back tot Red Rock country and especially Utah! Love the Fremont river, the orchards, the little schoolhouse and the farm in Capitol Reef! Hope to visit it again soon!

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