Staying at the Cougar Ridge—the best 5 star lodge Utah has to offer—means enjoying quick and easy access to nearby Capitol Reef National Park. This makes it a breeze to get to the park early in the morning for a challenging hike or to stay late in the day to take in one of the park’s stunning sunsets.
Capitol Reef may not see the same number of visitors as Zion to the South. But this doesn’t mean that the park’s most popular trails don’t draw a crowd. You could leave the best 5 star lodge Utah has to offer early in the morning to beat the crowds. After all, this is one of the biggest perks of staying in vacation rentals near Capitol Reef! But if you want to take an afternoon hike or simply see a side of the park that few visitors ever do, you’re in luck.
Keep reading to learn the best scenic hikes in Capitol Reef that you should plan to enjoy during your stay at the best 5 star lodge Utah has to offer!
Cohab Canyon Trail
Thanks to a steep initial climb that’s intimidating to many visitors, this is one of Capitol Reef’s best-kept secrets.
Cohab Canyon Trail is a 3.4-mile out-and-back trail. You’ll find the trailhead just across the road from the Fruita Campground. From there, you’ll start with a steep, challenging climb. But if you can tough it out, you’ll be rewarded with some incredible views.
The trail winds its way through its namesake, Cohab Canyon, which is filled with narrow slot canyons and breathtaking sandstone formations. When you reach the end of your 1.7-mile hike out, you can choose to continue down one of two spur trails, one leading to a view of Fruita far below, and the other overlooking Route 24.
This trail does gain about 440 feet in elevation. You’ll then have to climb back down on your hike back. So only experienced hikers with plenty of energy, good hiking boots, and a supply of water should take it on.
Grand Wash Trail
Looking for something a bit easier than Cohab Canyon Trail, but are still up for a full afternoon hike? Head to Grand Wash Trail.
At 4.4-miles out and back, this trail will take you at least a few hours to hike. But because it gains less than 200 feet of elevation, spaced out in the 2.2-mile trail, you won’t have near the climb of the other trail.
While it is an easy trail, Grand Wash is a dry wash surrounded by towering cliff faces. On a hot, sunny day, the sun reflecting off the cliff walls can quickly raise the temperature. Make sure that you’ve packed plenty of water. You should also consider starting this hike early in the day to avoid the high afternoon temps.
This trail may not exactly be a secret. But because it’s off the beaten trail, you’ll find fewer crowds here than on other popular hikes in the park. To get to Capitol Gorge, you’ll need to leave the paved road and take a dirt route to the trailhead. This road is actually a part of the original route that visitors took through Capitol Reef, prior to the construction of Highway 24 in 1964.
Keep in mind that it’s recommended you avoid this road if there’s any chance of rain or storms. That’s because flash floods and runoff can make it inaccessible. The road follows a wash between two steep canyons. This means that it can also be incredibly dangerous to cross during a flood. The last thing you want to do after enjoying a fun afternoon hike is return to your car and find that you’re stranded!
While getting to the trailhead can be a bit of a challenge, the hike really isn’t. At just a 2-miles roundtrip and relatively flat, this is a good hike for beginners or for families with children. You’ll even have the chance to see some ancient petroglyphs, left behind by some of the very first people to call this gorgeous landscape home. Past the petroglyphs, there’s also a rock that early pioneer travelers left their own signatures on. Take pictures, but remember that leaving your own name behind is vandalism!
Enjoying These Scenic Hikes During Your Stay at the Best 5 Star Lodge Utah Has to Offer
Staying at the best 5 star lodge Utah has to offer is a great way to enjoy quick and easy access to Capitol Reef National Park. Whether you want to beat the crowds and enjoy some of the park’s most popular trails or simply want to give yourself as much time as possible in the day to explore, staying close to the park is key.
Cougar Ridge offers the best vacation rentals near Capitol Reef. Whether you’re traveling with a large group and opt to rent The Grand Lodge or are planning a lowkey family getaway, we have an option for every traveler. Don’t want to spend your trip exploring Capitol Reef? Don’t fret—there’s plenty to do on-site as well!
Book your next stay at Cougar Ridge today to see for yourself what makes us the best 5 star lodge Utah has to offer!