Cougar Ridge

Unexpected Things to Put on a Packing List for National Parks

Mar 10, 2023 | Capitol Reef National Park, National Parks | 0 comments

Most people fall into one of two categories; those who love packing because it gets them excited about their vacation, and those who dread it. No matter which category you fall into, you no doubt know that having the right items in your suitcase can sometimes make or break your trip.

Planning a visit to Cougar Ridge and Capitol Reef? Keep reading to learn a few unexpected things that you should definitely have on your packing list for national parks.

A Flashlight

If you’re not planning to do some Capitol Reef camping, you may not plan to be in the park after dark. But it’s always a good idea to have a flashlight on hand, just in case.

Maybe you and your friends stop more frequently than you planned to take in the views during a hike. Or, a trail that you thought would take just an hour or two winds up taking twice that because of the elevation change or other challenging obstacles. 

If you find yourself still hiking as the sun goes down, you’ll be grateful to have a flashlight to pull out to guide you safely off the trail. 

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to bring an extra set of batteries, too!


Sunscreen isn’t exactly an unexpected item on a packing list for national parks during the summer months. But it’s easy to forget this essential if you’re visiting in the fall, winter, or spring.

Even on a cloudy winter day in Southern Utah, dangerous UV rays are still making their way through the cloud coverage. While your arms, legs, and neck might be covered up with warm layers, your face is still at risk of getting a sunburn this time of year. Don’t forget to pack and apply sunscreen just as you would during the summer. 

Pro Tip: If you find yourself sweating on a hike, don’t forget to reapply your sunscreen frequently, too.

Maps or GPS

Most visitors to the park aren’t planning to do any Capitol Reef camping in the backcountry. If you are, you’ll definitely want to consider packing a GPS to help you stay aware of where you are in the park. This can be vital in an emergency situation.

But even if you plan to stick to the trails, you may still want to consider adding a GPS unit to your packing list for national parks. Not only can this help you during an emergency, but it’s also a simple way to figure out how far you have left on a trail or where exactly you are.

Pro Tip: Don’t have a GPS? When you get to Capitol Reef, stop by the Visitor Center to pick up a map instead. This is also a great spot to talk to park rangers and ask for some hiking recommendations or to learn about any current trail closures in the park.

A Swimsuit

This next item on our packing list for national parks actually isn’t something you’ll likely need while in the park. But if you’re staying at Cougar Ridge, you will!

Whether you’re staying in The Grand Lodge or a private villa, packing a swimsuit is a must. That’s because one of the best ways to spend an evening at Cougar Ridge is by relaxing in a hot tub, swapping stories with friends, and taking in the stunning night skies.

A couple of the suites in The Grand Lodge have their own private hot tubs. There’s also a hot tub for the rest of The Grand Lodge guests, and one for guests staying in our villas.

Pro Tip: Pack a pair of flip-flops too to make it easier to get to and from the hot tub!

Cowboy Boots

Much like a swimsuit, cowboy boots also aren’t something you’ll necessarily need while visiting Capitol Reef. You definitely won’t want to hike in them! But if you’re staying at Cougar Ridge, you might just want to consider throwing them in your suitcase.

One of the coolest on-site amenities available to guests is the option to host your own private rodeo. We’ll bring in local cowboys to show off their skills and interact with you and your guests. This add-on costs $1,500, and is a great option for corporate retreats, family reunions, and other events.

Pro Tip: Add on a backyard BBQ to treat your guests to the ultimate evening or afternoon!


Capitol Reef National Park and the surrounding area are home to a wide variety of wildlife. Bighorn sheep, black bears, antelope, and prairie dogs are just a few of the animals you might see during your visit. 

For your safety and the safety of the wildlife, it’s important to keep a safe distance. But if you want to still get a closer look at these incredible creatures, don’t forget to pack a pair of binoculars.

Pro Tip: Many animals have adapted to blend with the landscape. Keep your eyes on the ridgelines of the park to watch for any movements. It might just be bighorn sheep, which are masters at blending in with the rocky landscape they call home.

Compiling a Packing List for National Parks

Making a packing list for national parks is a great way to ensure that you have everything you need to enjoy a safe, fun adventure in Capitol Reef, and an enjoyable stay at Cougar Ridge.

The items on this list are just a few things you might overlook when making your list. For more common items that you’ll want to have on hand, like hiking boots and water bottles, check out our ultimate packing list for national parks.

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