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Capitol Reef National Park’s Most Scenic Hiking Trails

Apr 21, 2024 | Activities & Adventure, Capitol Reef National Park, Cougar Ridge Lodge, National Parks, Our Blog | 0 comments

Summer in Capitol Reef National Park is fast approaching. While it may not see the crowds that frequent Zion National Park to the South, summer is still the busiest time of year in the park. Luckily, with more than 240,000 acres to explore, it’s not hard to find a scenic spot to enjoy, even on the busiest days.

If you’re ready to get away from the crowds and enjoy some of Capitol Reef’s less-visited destinations during your next stay at Cougar Ridge, keep reading. We’re breaking down some of the best scenic trails to help you enjoy some peace and quiet alongside stunning views during your visit to the best Torrey, UT hotels.

Grand Wash Trail

One simple way to get away from any crowds at Capitol Reef is to head into the park’s scenic backcountry. But you don’t have to be up for a challenging trek to enjoy an uncrowded trail. In fact, this first trail is one that your family can enjoy during your stay in our Torrey, Utah rentals.

The Grand Wash Trail is just 2.2 miles one-way, with less than 200 feet of elevation change. This makes it a welcome alternative to some of the park’s challenging hiking trails, and a good choice for new hikers or families.

While it is an easy trail, Grand Wash is a dry wash surrounded by towering cliff faces. On a hot, sunny day, the sun reflecting off the cliff walls can quickly raise the temperature. Make sure that you’ve packed plenty of water, and consider starting this hike early in the day to avoid the high afternoon temps.

Cohab Canyon Trail

Thanks to a steep initial climb that’s intimidating to many visitors, this is one of the park’s best-kept secrets and a great option for those looking to enjoy a scenic adventure during their stay in Capitol Reef National Park hotels.

Cohab Canyon Trail is a 3.4-mile out-and-back trail. You’ll find the trailhead just across the road from the Fruita Campground. From there, you’ll start with a steep, challenging climb. But if you can tough it out, you’ll be rewarded with some incredible views.

The trail winds its way through its namesake, Cohab Canyon, which is filled with narrow slot canyons and breathtaking sandstone formations. When you reach the end of your 1.7-mile hike out, you can choose to continue down one of two spur trails, one leading to a view of Fruita far below, and the other overlooking Route 24.

This trail does gain about 440 feet in elevation, which you’ll then have to climb back down on your hike back, so only experienced hikers with plenty of energy, good hiking boots, and a supply of water should take it on.

Capitol Gorge

This trail may not exactly be a secret, but because it’s off the beaten trail, you’ll find fewer crowds here than on other popular hikes in the park. To get to Capitol Gorge, you’ll need to leave the paved road and take a dirt route to the trailhead. This road is actually a part of the original route that visitors took through Capitol Reef, prior to the construction of Highway 24 in 1964.

Keep in mind that it’s recommended you avoid this road if there’s any chance of rain or storms, as flash floods and runoff can make it inaccessible. The road follows a wash between two steep canyons, so it can also be incredibly dangerous to cross during a flood. The last thing you want to do after enjoying a fun afternoon hike is return to your car and find that you’re stranded!

While getting to the trailhead can be a bit of a challenge, the hike really isn’t. At just 2-miles roundtrips and relatively flat, this is a good hike for beginners or for families with children. You’ll even have the chance to see some ancient petroglyphs, left behind by some of the very first people to call this gorgeous landscape home. Past the petroglyphs, there’s also a rock that early pioneer travelers left their own signatures on. Take pictures, but remember that leaving your own name behind is vandalism!

Planning a Summer Stay in Torrey, UT Hotels

The summer season is just around the corner, and now is the best time to book your stay in Torrey, UT hotels! Booking your choice of private villa or securing The Grand Lodge at Cougar Ridge in advance ensures that you’ll get your choice of dates before they sell out.

Whether you’re planning to enjoy some of these scenic hikes, a stroll through the orchards in Fruita, or a relaxing drive through the park, there’s something for everyone in Capitol Reef National Park. Book your stay at Cougar Ridge today to start planning your next—or first—visit!

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