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4 Fall Hikes to Take in Capitol Reef National Park

Sep 26, 2021 | Capitol Reef National Park | 0 comments

The changing colors and fruit orchards are just a couple of the reasons why visitors flock to Capitol Reef National Park each fall.

But no matter what time of year you choose to visit, hiking will always be one of the best ways to experience this unique national park. 

If you want to experience the park’s fall color change up-close and personal, keep reading to learn a few of the best fall hikes to take in Capitol Reef National Park this fall. Pack your hiking boots, a warm jacket, and plenty of water— and don’t forget your camera, either!

1. Sulphur Creek 

If you’re up for a challenge and properly prepared for it, plan a day of your trip to hike Capitol Reef’s Sulphur Creek Trail. The trail is 5.8-miles one-way, rugged, and part of it passes through water that can sometimes be deep enough to require hikers to swim across. 

If you aren’t able to arrange a pick up at the end, you’ll need to either turn around and hike the trail in reverse or walk along Highway 24 for just over 3-miles to get back to the trailhead parking area.

On the trail, you’ll wind along Sulphur Creek, which is lined with trees that come alive in color this time of year. This trail has several unique features. Besides fording the creek, you’ll also have to route your way around two waterfalls. This route is not an official trail, and is not maintained, so only those with plenty of experience should hike it. It’s also important to be aware of signs of flash floods.

2. Cohab Canyon

Not up for a strenuous, rugged hike? Cohab Canyon Trail is a great alternative. While the trail is rated moderate for some elevation changes, it’s just over a mile and a half long, making it great for a quick afternoon trip.

The trail starts just above the town of Fruita. From there, you’ll have a steep climb up the side of the Waterpocket Fold. The climb is worth it, as you’ll have a chance to look down on the canyon below and the bright seasonal colors.

Along the trail, you’ll cross the Waterpocket Fold and have great views of the community of Fruita. You can also connect to the Frying Pan Trail, which will take you to the Cassidy Arch Trail is you’re looking for a longer adventure.

3. Hickman Bridge 

The hike to Hickman Bridge is one of the most popular trails in all of Capitol Reef. While the views of the natural bridge are beautiful no matter what time of year you visit, fall is great for seeing the red rock formation set against some pops of yellow and red as the trees begin to turn.

This trail is 2-miles round trip and rated easy, making it a good choice for families or those looking for a lighter day hike. You’ll pass directly under the trail on your hike, and pass close to a lesser-known miniature arch, called Nels Johnson Natural Bridge.

If hiking isn’t something you’re up to during your visit, or you just need a break, don’t fret — there are still plenty of ways to experience the fall colors this season. A scenic drive is one great, accessible way for everyone to enjoy some stunning views. Check out these scenic drives for great views this season.

4. Navajo Knox Trail 

After passing under the Hickman Bridge, you can extend your trip with a hike on Navajo Knobs Trail. This hike is the longest maintained trail in the park. It’s over 9-miles total is you hike it out and back, and gains 1,600 feet along the way, making for a strenuous trip. But if you’re up for the challenge, you’ll be rewarded with some awesome views.

Halfway through your hike, you’ll find the Rim Overlook. This viewpoint is nestled over 1,000 feet about Fruita and Sulphur Creek. Many hikers turn around here to shorten the hike.

Much of the hike is through rugged red rock canyon areas, where you won’t notice a color difference in the fall. However, the season’s cooler temperatures make it a great time to hike this tough trail. Keep in mind that packing plenty of water is still important, even when you aren’t hiking in triple-digit heat.

Planning a Fall Visit to Capitol Reef National Park

Whether you’re looking for a picturesque hike or dreaming of picking apples, peaches, and other fruit, fall is a great time to visit Capitol Reef National Park. 

Cooler temperatures, fewer crowds, and even better views await you this season. Ready to plan your next visit to experience it for yourself? Book your stay at Cougar Ridge today!

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