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Things to Do in Capitol Reef National Park: Cathedral Valley

Mar 25, 2023 | Capitol Reef National Park, Cougar Ridge Lodge, National Parks | 0 comments

You’ve booked your flights and your stay at Cougar Ridge. You’ve searched for the best packing list for national parks, and maybe even written your own. But now, it’s time to plan your itinerary.

With so many unique and incredible things to do in Capitol Reef National Park, this is sometimes easier said than done.

Planning the perfect itinerary for your stay in our Torrey accommodation takes a little research. You’ll want to consider the interests of everyone in your group, the time of year you’re visiting, and how long you’ll stay.

No matter what time of year you’re visiting or how long you plan to stay, one great addition to your itinerary is a visit to Cathedral Valley. Keep reading to learn more about this unique destination, and what you need to know to plan a visit.

Cathedral Valley: The North District of Capitol Reef

More than one million people visit Capitol Reef National Park each year. Most of those visitors spend the majority of their visit in the two most popular sections of the park; Fruita Historic District and the Waterpocket Fold District. These sections of the park are not only home to some of the most popular things to do in Capitol Reef National Park but are also the most accessible sections of the park.

But the lesser-known third section of the park is no less worthy of a visit.

Cathedral Valley, also known as the North District of Capitol Reef, is perhaps the park’s best-kept secret. This stunning, remote section of the park gets its name from the massive eroded sandstone structures that spot the expansive valley. The crowning peak, called Cathedral Mountain, towers more than 500 feet above the valley.

Visiting Cathedral Valley

Perhaps the biggest reason that Cathedral Valley isn’t on more visitors’ lists of things to do in Capitol Reef National Park during their stay is because of how rugged the district is. You’ll need a vehicle with a high ground clearance to navigate the roads. Four-wheel drive is also a must for much of the year, depending on the weather and ground conditions.

The primary attraction of the district is the Cathedral Valley Loop. This 58-mile scenic drive is unpaved and located just north of the Fruita Historic District. Frequent rain storms in the spring and summer can leave the roads muddy and even impassable. Winter snows can also leave the road inaccessible even to four-wheel drive vehicles.

If you don’t have experience driving off-road, the best way to explore Cathedral Valley is with a tour. There are a variety of tour companies operating out of Torrey, Utah, and the nearby area that offers both short and full-day off-road tours of the district.

In addition to the scenic drive, there are a variety of side roads that you can explore, as well as plenty of hiking trails.

What to Know Before Your Visit

If you do plan to drive the Loop on your own, it’s important to check the road conditions before you get started. You can do this by stopping at the Capitol Reef Visitor Center to talk to a park ranger. Or, call 435-425-3791 and press #1, followed by #4, to check current road conditions. You can also press #3 to check the current weather conditions in the park.

It’s important to keep in mind that because of how remote this section of the park is, if you find yourself in need of help, it may not arrive for hours or even days, depending on the time of year and the weather conditions. If you plan to visit, you’ll want to adjust your packing list for national parks to include extra water, food, warm clothing, and emergency supplies. Make sure that you have plenty of gas before entering the park as well, as there is nowhere to fill up once you’re here. Water also isn’t available in the Cathedral Valley District, and cell phone reception is often poor.

Choosing the Best Things to Do in Capitol Reef National Park During Your Visit

A day or two of exploring remote and rugged Cathedral Valley is definitely one of the best things to do in Capitol Reef National Park during your stay. Consider booking an off-road tour of this section of the park one day to take a break from hiking the Waterpocket Fold and exploring the town of Fruita.

We also recommend planning a day or two to enjoy some of the on-site amenities at Cougar Ridge, too. Our Torrey accommodation offers something for everyone, from friendly farm animals to hot tubs to stargazing parties and more.

Ready to start planning your 2023 visit to Capitol Reef? Now is a great time to book your stay at Cougar Ridge! When you book a stay of three or more nights before June 30, you’ll receive a 25 percent discount on your trip. Book today to take advantage of this deal!

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