Capitol Reef National Park in central Utah tends to be overshadowed by its other four siblings, Utah’s mighty Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Zion. After all, with all of that beautiful red rock that Utah has been blessed with, you could make the argument that most of the state should be a giant national park.
Fortunately, Capitol Reef is a stunning halfway point between the popular Moab region, home to both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, and the Southwest region, where you’ll find Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. If you ask those that “stumble upon” Capitol Reef during their journey to see Utah’s other parks, many will tell you that it steals the show.
Watch our Auto Tour of Capitol Reef National Park here:
There are two distinct items of significance in Capitol Reef National Park. First, and most notably is the iconic landscape shaped by the Waterpocket Fold, a massive wrinkle in the Earth’s surface that has created a spectacular, Mars-like environment. The red rock natural bridges, canyons and cliffs draw you in, much like they once did to the second significant attraction: the Mormon community of Fruita.
Fruita was established in 1880 and given its name for the large orchards that still exist and are maintained today by the National Park Service. While many of the buildings are gone, there are still remnants of the community, including the Fruita Schoolhouse, and iconic Gifford House and Barn.
With little more than the small nearby gateway community of Torrey, Utah, Capitol Reef is one of the more remote national parks in the Southwest, however, it’s not one to be missed.