Hiking might just be the most popular way to explore Capitol Reef National Park. But while the park offers no shortage of incredible hiking trails, this is far from the only way to enjoy the park.
Of course, you could spend a day enjoying the many amenities at one of the best Capitol Reef National Park hotels, Cougar Ridge. However, there’s plenty to do off the trail in Capitol Reef, too.
Whether you’re looking to give your feet a break, are visiting with someone who doesn’t want to hike, or simply want to experience more of the park, keep reading. We’re breaking down some of the best things to do in Capitol Reef that aren’t hiking.
A Scenic Drive
One of the best things to do in Capitol Reef without hitting a trail is enjoy a scenic drive. Capitol Reef National Park covers more than 378 square miles. Exploring it all on foot would be impossible. But taking a cruise along the Scenic Drive and through other areas of the park is a great way to see as much of it as possible during your next visit.
You can venture outside of Capitol Reef National Park for this activity, too. There are a variety of scenic drives that make for a great afternoon adventure or day trip from Torrey, Utah during your stay in Capitol Reef National Park hotels.
Because of light pollution, more than 80 percent of Americans can’t see the Milky Way in the night sky from where they live. If you’re one of those 8 in every 10 citizens, this next activity is definitely something that you’ll want to do during your next stay at Cougar Ridge.
Capitol Reef National Park has been named an International Dark Sky Park. This means that the park experiences little light pollution. Part of this is due to the park’s location. But the National Park Service has also taken measures to ensure that the park’s facilities don’t contribute to light pollution. As a result, the park offers some truly incredible stargazing! You won’t even need a telescope to take in the amazing views. In fact, you won’t even need to go to the park!
Starting in April 2023, Cougar Ridge will be hosting Bonfire and Star Parties most Tuesday and Saturday evenings. During this two-hour event, guests will enjoy a guided stargazing program with a telescope, as well as a bonfire with s’mores and hot beverages. Tickets are $50 for adults and $35 for children and are available both to guests of Cougar Ridge and the public. This is a great way to learn more about the stars and constellations you’ll see and to get a closer look with the help of our telescope.
This next activity is one that you likely wouldn’t expect to get to do in a national park. But if you’re planning a visit to one of the best Capitol Reef National Park hotels from mid-June to mid-October, you can actually go fruit picking within the park’s borders.
Fruita is a historic town once inhabited by farmers. These early pioneers planted a variety of fruit trees in the late 1800s. When the National Park Service purchased the land from the farmers in the 1960s, they preserved the orchards, adding them to the National Register of Historic Places. Today, you can still wander the orchards. When in season, you can pick cherries, apricots, pears, peaches, and apples, paying for what you pick at self-service stations.
See the Capitol Reef Petroglyphs
Fruita is far from Capitol Reef’s only preserved historic relic. The Capitol Reef petroglyphs date back a couple of thousand years. Created between 300 and 1300 C.E., these rock drawings are the work of the Fremont and Ancestral Puebloan people who once settled in Southern Utah.
The petroglyphs are located just a short walk from the parking lot, located about 1.5 miles east of the Visitor Center. Here, you’ll find two boardwalks that help you get a closer look at these amazing features.
Dig Into Some Homemade Pie
One of the most delicious things to do in Capitol Reef is to indulge in some delicious homemade pie. You could visit the Fruita orchards to pick and purchase fruit to take home to make your own pie. But you can also swing by the historic Gifford House to buy slices or even whole pies, made from local fruit. You’ll also find homemade ice cream, jams and jellies, and a variety of other souvenirs. The home is also a great place to learn more about the history of the pioneers who settled in modern-day Fruita, Torrey, and other local towns.
Watch a Sunset
No matter how you choose to spend your days during your stay in Capitol Reef National Park hotels, there’s only one way to end it; by watching one of the park’s stunning sunsets! Choose just about any spot in the park, and watch as the setting sun brings the red rock landscapes to life. Don’t forget to pack your camera!
Choosing the Best Things to Do in Capitol Reef
You’ll certainly want to set aside some time to enjoy some of Capitol Reef’s incredible hiking trails. But there are also plenty of things to do in Capitol Reef National Park off the trails.
If you’re thinking about visiting Cougar Ridge, now is a great time. When you book a stay of two or more nights before March 31, you’ll enjoy a 40 percent discount on your entire booking. Book today to take advantage of this amazing deal!