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, Utah.com is a beautiful tourism website with lots of great information, and of course lots of info on the National Parks site.
*not a sponsored post–we just really loved our trip*