Most visitors to this region of the country come for a taste of Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks. But if you only plan to spend your days wandering the red rock cliffs of Capitol Reef National Park, you’ll miss out on the many other natural-and manmade-wonders that Torrey, Utah has to offer. From taking in the stars to a scenic road trip, keep reading to learn 4 things to do in Torrey that aren’t National Parks.
Torrey, Utah has been designated one of just 115 certified International Dark Sky Places in the world. Of the 115 places, Torrey is one of just 18 communities. Capitol Reef National Park is also a designated Dark Sky Park, and was the first National Park in the U.S. to become one. When Torrey earned the title last year, it became the first city in Utah to do so.
To earn it’s spot on the Dark Sky list, the city has taken measures to reduce light pollution, by using improved outdoor lighting and other methods. This means that even on a normal night, when the weather is clear, you can see a vast number of stars, far more than you’ll see in other cities in the region. Torrey also celebrates it’s designation with a number of stargazing opportunities throughout the year. On these dates, even more light pollution is reduced and visitors have the chance to take part in stargazing, presentations, and more.
Whether you choose to bring a telescope or just a blanket to lie down on the ground and take in the sky, stargazing in Torrey is a must-see for every visitor. If you’re lucky enough to be staying at Cougar Ridge, you can enjoy dark skies full of stars without ever leaving the property.
2. Boulder Mountain
Capitol Reef National Park isn’t the only opportunity for hiking that you’ll find in the area. Boulder Mountain is another popular outdoor destination located nearby. The mountain climbs over 11,000 feet and forms the highest wooded plateau in North America. The area is actually a part of the Dixie National Forest.
On Boulder Mountain, visitors can enjoy miles of hiking trails, fishing, scenic overlooks, and more. There are actually 60 fishable lakes located on the plateau. The largest is Blind Lake, which covers more than 50 acres and reaches a depth of 52 feet. Some of the lakes are stocked fisheries, while others are left natural. There are also a multitude of creeks and streams. Avid fisherman may even find trophy-sized trout in some of the larger lakes and creeks.
Hikes on the eastern slope of the mountain overlook the cliffs and canyons of Capitol Reef, giving hikers a different view of the park that’s seen by few visitors to the area.
Because of the elevation, the mountain often experiences colder temperatures and more snowfall than the surrounding area. This makes it a welcome retreat during the heat of the summer.
3. Take a Drive
Ending just outside of Torrey, Utah is the iconic Highway 12. This historic Byway is designated as an All-American Road. Less than one-third of all byways in the U.S. receive this title. It’s earned by roadways with unique features that aren’t found anywhere else in the nation.
Highway 12 begins in Panguitch in the west and ends in Torrey. Plenty of other roads connect the two locations (and offer shorter drives). But none feature the stunning views and countless natural attractions found here. Cruising along the 122 mile drive, you’ll pass through the Dixie National Forest, pass the red rocks of Capitol Reef National Park and the cliffs of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and more. The road climbs more than 9,000 feet at its highest point, with an overlook at the summit where you can stop to take a look and snap some photos.
It would take days (or weeks if you want to be really thorough) to explore every stop on Highway 12. But if you have a few hours, you can cruise the road and take in the sights from your vehicle. This makes for a great break in the middle of a few days of hiking, or a fun activity for families with members who can’t enjoy the parks by trail.
4. Hit the Town
If you’ve had enough of exploring the wilderness and need a taste of civilization, head downtown. While Torrey might not be the largest city in the state, it has plenty of charm and to make up for it.
Spend an hour wandering the Torrey Gallery, shopping for local art, photography, and Navajo crafts. Browse the shelves of Robber’s Roost Bookstore and pick up a read to enjoy as you relax on the front porch of your Casita. You’ll also find plenty of restaurants in town, as well as gift shops, grocery stores, and more.
Planning Your Torrey, Utah Adventure
While Capitol Reef National Park and nearby Zion and Bryce Canyon are certainly big draws for visitors, Torrey, Utah has plenty more to offer. In between horseback riding, grill outs, and spa treatments at Cougar Ridge, be sure to check out some of the other things that the area has to offer!