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Capitol Reef National Park Hiking Trails to Enjoy This Fall

Sep 7, 2023 | Activities & Adventure, Capitol Reef National Park, Things to do in Utah | 0 comments

While the region might be best known for its hot, sunny summers, few visitors to Southern Utah ever get to experience the other four seasons here. The red rock walls of Capitol Reef National Park take on a whole new look when they’re covered in a dusting of bright, white snow. But even more beautiful than the winter or even the summer season is fall.

Fall in Capitol Reef and Torrey, Utah is a unique and stunning time of year. Not only do the changing leaves bring even more color to the park, but temperatures are cooling and crowds are thinning. You can still pick apples in Fruita, within Capitol Reef, through mid-October, too.

One of the best ways to experience the fall season is with some Capitol Reef hikes. Keep reading as we explore some of the best hikes for seeing the changing fall colors during your stay at Cougar Ridge.

Fremont River Trail

If you’re looking for a quick afternoon hike or a bit of a challenge, you can’t go wrong with Fremont River Trail. At 2.6 miles out-and-back, it will take most hikers less than 2 hours to complete this walk. You’ll start among the cottonwood trees in the historic town of Fruita. From there, you’ll enjoy almost half-a-mile of flat, easy hiking before the trail begins to climb out of Fremont Gorge. 

If you have young children or someone in a wheelchair along, you can end your hike before this climb and still enjoy some beautiful views. If you opt to climb to the top, you’ll get a panoramic view of the Waterpocket Fold.

As this trail winds along the Fremont River and is lined with cottonwood trees, you’ll get some spectacular views of the changing leaves this season!

Cassidy Arch Trail

One of the most popular Capitol Reef hikes to enjoy during the fall is the Cassidy Arch Trail. In fact, this trail is one of the most popular among visitors of the best resort Utah has to offer all year long!

Avid hikers and history buffs alike will enjoy this trail. Story has it that Butch Cassidy, the famous Old West outlaw, and his so-called “Wild Bunch” traveled through the Waterpocket Fold near where this trail now lies while they were on the run from the law. 

Today, you can channel your inner bandit as you weave and wind through the Grand Wash and climb steep ledges of the Kayenta to reach the famous Cassidy Arch. The trail is 3.4 miles to hike out and back. The steep climbs make it a moderate to strenuous hike that’s best left to experienced hikers. One reason this is a great choice in the fall is that cooler temperatures make this challenging trail a little easier. While it isn’t as wooded as the Fremont River Trail, you’ll still get to see the park’s changing fall colors thanks to the panoramic views on this trek.

Navajo Knobs Trail

Another of the most challenging Capitol Reef hikes that are made a little easier by cooler fall temps is the Navajo Knobs Trail. Steep and lengthy, this trail will take experienced hikers 4 to 5 hours to hike the 9.4-mile, out-and-back path. 

The halfway point on the trail is the Rim Overlook, while the turning point offers equally stunning views. From high above the park, you’ll have views of Cohab Canyon, the Waterpocket Fold, Miners Mountain, and even Spring Canyon far to the north. 

At the peak of Navajo Knobs, you’ll enjoy some of the most incredible views in all of Capitol Reef National Park. Experienced hikers staying in lodges in Utah should definitely put this trail on their bucket list. If you’re thinking about tackling this trail during your stay in the best resort Utah has to offer, make sure that you’re not only physically prepared, but also equipped with gear to prevent hiking blisters, stay hydrated, and to get help if you get into trouble on the trail.

Grand Wash Trail

Easier than Fremont River Trail, though almost twice as long, Grand Wash Trail is one of the best family-friendly Capitol Reef hikes to try during your stay in the best resort Utah has to offer. Flat and easy to walk, the trail follows the wash for 2.4 miles, with the same distance hike back to the start. 

You’ll weave through colorful rock layers, even forcing hikers to “squeeze” through The Narrows, a section of the wash where the sandstone walls come together with just 16 feet between them. You’ll pass through several areas that experience changing colors during the fall. Don’t forget to bring your camera for this beautiful hike!

Choosing the Best Capitol Reef Hikes for Your Fall Cougar Ridge Stay

These are just a few of the Capitol Reef hikes that will allow you to experience the stunning fall colors and cooler temperatures that fall brings to Southern Utah. If you haven’t had a chance to experience this season in the region, now is a great chance to book a stay at Cougar Ridge, the best resort Utah has to offer.

While the leaves may be changing and the temperatures cooling, there’s still time to take advantage of our Summer in Capitol Reef sale. Through October 31, when you book a stay of three or more nights, you’ll enjoy a 25 percent discount on your stay. Book today to take advantage of these savings!

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