Hiking or taking a scenic drive are among the most popular ways to explore Capitol Reef. But they aren’t your only options. If you’re looking for a more heart-pounding adventure, there are plenty of other activities waiting for you in and around the park. Like a Capitol Reef canyoneering adventure!
Canyoneering is a high-adventure sport where participants rappel, hike, swim, and scramble through canyons, and especially slot canyons. Capitol Reef National Park’s rocky landscape makes it the perfect destination for canyoneering.
Thinking about trying canyoneering during your visit to Cougar Ridge? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about this exciting sport.
Is Capitol Reef Canyoneering Legal?
There are plenty of things that you can’t do in Capitol Reef National Park. But canyoneering is allowed—as long as you have the necessary permit.
Day-use permits are required for anyone looking to go canyoneering in the park. These permits are available free of charge. You can get one by stopping by the visitor center on the day of your visit, or via email ahead of your trip.
To get a Capitol Reef canyoneering permit via email, send an email to [email protected], using the following format:
Subject: Include the name of the canyoneering route that you plan to take and the date of your planned canyoneering trip.
Body: Include the date of your visit (single days only), the route that you’ll be taking, how many people will be joining, where you’ll be parking your car and how many you’ll have, and a description of each vehicle (make, model, license plate number).
Where Can You Go Canyoneering in Capitol Reef?
There are a number of canyoneering routes spread throughout Capitol Reef National Park. Some are more challenging — and more challenging to get to — than others.
These are a few of the most popular Capitol Reef canyoneering routes.
The Wives is a challenging canyoneering route that includes seven individual canyons, all of which end in Cohab Canyon. Each of the seven canyons are unique, with their own challenging obstacles. Getting to the start of the seven canyons takes only around 30 minutes. But traversing the individual canyons can take three to four hours. This means that it’s best to stick to just one or two canyons each day.
If you want to stay in the park and camp over multiple days to explore more of the canyons at The Wives, you’ll need to get a backcountry permit. You can get this from the Capitol Reef National Park Visitor Center before your backcountry camping trip.
If you’re looking for a shorter canyoneering trip, Shinob Canyon is a great choice. This short trip will require you to rappel four times, with one long rappel, at around 275 feet. This canyoneering route may be short, but it offers some great views.
Another longer canyoneering route, Cassidy Arch features seven rappelling routes. They begin at the top of Cassidy Arch, with a 1.75-mile hike up some pretty steep terrain. From there, you’ll enjoy some stunning views of the park. You’ll rappel from one end of the arch, into some narrow slot canyons. The route takes most groups between three and five hours to complete.
What First timers Should Know About Capitol Reef Canyoneering
Canyoneering is a dangerous activity that takes the right skills and equipment. Unless you’re an experienced canyoner, you shouldn’t try to take on Capitol Reef’s challenging routes without a guide. Luckily, there are several nearby outfitters that offer guided canyoneering adventures, including those for beginners and experienced canyoners.
Not only will your guide provide the right gear and show you the ropes, but they’ll also help you learn how to enjoy a safe canyoneering adventure. From checking the weather forecast and knowing the early warning signs of a flash flood to helping you choose routes that are within your experience level, this is a sport that’s best learned from an experienced professional.
Planning Your Own Capitol Reef Canyoneering Adventure
Ready to start planning for summer already? Now is a great time to start planning your first Capitol Reef canyoneering adventure!
Before booking your guided canyoneering tour, it’s a good idea to secure your lodging for your trip. And there’s no better base camp than Cougar Ridge! Located just minutes away from the entrance to Capitol Reef, Cougar Ridge offers comfortable, luxurious accommodations perfect for relaxing before and after your outdoor adventure. Our spacious private Villas feature two-bedrooms, one with a king-y sized bed and the other with two-queens. Two private bathrooms make it easy for your group to get ready each day. And if you need a day of rest after your canyoneering adventure, there’s plenty to do on property — including a brand new pool, coming May 2023!
Ready to start planning your first canyoneering adventure in Capitol Reef? Book your stay at Cougar Ridge today!