Cougar Ridge

Top Things to Do in Capitol Reef National Park

Dec 27, 2022 | Capitol Reef National Park, Cougar Ridge Lodge, National Parks, Things to do in Utah | 0 comments

Staying at one of the best Southern Utah resorts can be a vacation all its own. At Cougar Ridge, guests enjoy a wide variety of on-site amenities. Stroll the property and visit with our resident ranch animals. Rent an e-bike and take a cruise around the property or into nearby Torrey, Utah. Relax in a hot tub or around a campfire while gazing at the stars. If you’re staying in the Grand Lodge, you’ll also enjoy other amenities, like a fitness room with a sauna and steam room, a bowling alley, and more.

But while you could certainly fill a trip with these on-site amenities, you’ll probably want to plan some time to take advantage of our Utah resort’s other crowding feature; our close proximity to Capitol Reef National Park.

Capitol Reef National Park is one of Utah’s most overlooked and underrated national parks. Despite seeing a fraction of the number of visitors that Zion sees annually, it offers incredible landscapes that rival its neighbor to the south. 

Whether you’re planning to spend a week or more exploring the park or only have time for one day, keep reading. We’re breaking down some of the top things to do in Capitol Reef so you can plan your visit.

Things to Do in Capitol Reef National Park

From hiking trails to the famous Capitol Reef petroglyphs, let’s take a look at some of the best things to do in Capitol Reef.

Hike Cassidy’s Arch

When you think of arches in Utah, you no doubt think of Arches National Park. But most of Utah’s national parks actually have at least a couple of arches, including Capitol Reef National Park. One of the most popular is Cassidy’s Arch.

Named after Butch Cassidy, this arch rises some 400 feet over Grand Wash, another popular trail. The trail to the arch is 3.5 miles roundtrip and is moderately difficult.

Cruise Highway 24

Highway 24 is the main road that passes through Capitol Reef National Park, so you’ll likely find yourself on it for a time or two. But one great thing to do during your visit is to set aside time to specifically cruise the road and take in the views.

You won’t have to pay Capitol Reef’s entrance fee to drive Highway 24. In total, the highway runs for 75 miles, passing through Capitol Reef somewhere in the middle. The highway covers 25 miles within the park. 

If you were to drive it end-to-end without stopping, it would take you less than two hours. But the highway offers tons of overlooks and trails that you can stop at and enjoy along the way. In fact, many of the other attractions on this list can be found on Highway 24.

Watch a Sunset From Sunset Point

Speaking of Highway 24, one must-see overlook located along the highway is Sunset Point. As the name suggests, this is one of the best places in the park—or perhaps in all of Southern Utah—for taking in a sunset.

There is parking available at the trailhead. After you park, you’ll have around a .8 mile round trip hike to the overlook and back. The trail is flat and easy.

See the Capitol Reef Petroglyphs

One of the most unique things to do in Capitol Reef National Park is an attraction that’s been in the park for hundreds of years. The famous Capitol Reef petroglyphs were created by the Fremont and Ancestral Puebloan people some 2,000 years ago. They are some of the best-preserved petroglyphs in Southern Utah.

To see the Capitol Reef petroglyphs, you’ll once again need to drive Highway 24. About 1.5 miles past the Visitor Center, you’ll find a marked parking lot. Park here, and then head to the two boardwalks marking the start of the trail. 

The shorter boardwalk will take you to the better-preserved petroglyphs. Here, you’ll see images of bighorn sheep and other animals that have been anthropomorphized or made to look human-like. The longer boardwalk will take you closer to a set of smaller petroglyphs. However, this set is harder to see.

Visit Fruita

Another great thing to do any time of year is to visit the historic town of Fruita. This historic town and its orchards were developed in the late 1800s and were absorbed by the park in the 1960s. Despite being located in the national park, the fruit orchards have been preserved. Depending on the season, you can pick and purchase fruit in the orchards for a truly unique national park experience.

Besides visiting the orchards, you can also see some historically preserved buildings, including the Gifford Homestead, a farmhouse and museum where you can also purchase pies, jams, and jellies made from fruits picked in the orchards.

Planning Your Stay at Southern Utah Resorts

These are just a few of the best things to do in Capitol Reef National Park during your visit. Of course, there are dozens of other trails and scenic drives to explore, as well as tours and activities like off-roading, Capitol Reef canyoneering, and more to choose from.

Before you start planning your Capitol Reef itinerary, you’ll want to choose your Utah resort.

When it comes to Southern Utah Resorts, you can’t beat Cougar Ridge’s location. With Capitol Reef just a short drive away, you can enjoy plenty of time in the park while still having time to take advantage of the resort’s many amenities.

Ready to start planning your next stay at the best Southern Utah resorts? Now is a great time to do so! Right now, when you book two or more nights before March 31, you’ll receive a 40 percent discount on your stay. Book today to take advantage of these amazing savings.

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