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Capitol Reef is the least heralded of Utah’s National Parks, but we feel that it is one of the most underrated parks around.

Crowd Factor: 4/10

The most people you will encounter during your time in Capitol Reef will be at the Visitor Center.

Peak Hours: 1030a-430p

You won't experience the pitfalls of more popular parks, but it's busier mid-morning to mid-afternoon.

Things to Do

Most Popular: Hickman Bridge Trail

Our Take: Skip it. There are loads of more interesting things to do in Capitol Reef.

Normally, we’re not huge fans of seeing a park by car, but the Scenic Drive is different. The Waterpocket Fold runs north to south for nearly 100 miles, and it takes seeing a fair chunk of it to appreciate a geologic feature of that size.

Do The Scenic Drive at Sunset:

Mather Favorites

Peak Alternative: Fremont Gorge

Relish in solitude on this hike to a  steep and lush canyon just beginning to show signs of greatness.

Best Day Hike: Navajo Knobs

This tough hike is, without reservation, the best hike, with the best views, that will give you the best appreciation for the Waterpocket Fold.


Nestled beneath towering red rock cliffs and along the Fremont River, Fruita is a surreal, Mormon-manufactured Garden of Eden that is wholly unique to Capitol Reef National Park.

Gifford House Mini Pies

There is no better reward for finishing a strenuous hike than stopping by the Gifford House and indulging in one of their mini pies. Consider this a must-do moment of your time in Capitol Reef.

5 Hikes That Mather

#1 The Navajo Knobs

Not just the best hike in Capitol Reef, but one of the best day hikes in the NPS.​ If you're up for the challenge, this trail is not to be missed.

Distance: 9.4 Miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Peak Alternative: Mostly. Late morning sees a fair amount of hikers heading to the Rim Overlook. Start early for shade and solitude.
Best Start Time: Before 8AM.

Additional Mathers

Ideal Summer Hiking Hours: 6a-1p, 4p-9p

Hot summer temperatures and very few shaded trails, mean you should avoid strenuous hikes in the middle of the day.

What if it Rains? 

Exploring Fruita in moderate rain, or hiking Fremont Gorge Overlook or Fremont River Trails if lightning isn’t an issue.

Mather's One-Day Itinerary

These times are based on summer daylight hours, typical temperatures, and crowd sizes.


630a: Wake Up!

720a: Arrive Hickman Bridge/Navajo Knobs/Rim Overlook Trailhead

730a-1230p: Navajo Knobs Hike (9.4 mi)

1230-1p: Rest, Recover, & Lunch at the Trailhead

1p-2p: PIE! Enjoy a pie at the Gifford House.

2-6p: Explore Historic Fruita, Follow Fremont River Trail, Pick Some Fruit

6-7p: Dinner at Your Campsite or the Picnic Area

7-9p: The Scenic Drive


And because we can’t expect everyone to do a 10-mile hike…


630a: Wake up!

720a: Arrive Hickman Bridge/Navajo Knobs/Rim Overlook Trailhead

730a-10a: Rim Overlook Hike (4.6 mi)

10a-1p: Recover, Eat Lunch, and Explore Fruita

1-2p: PIE!

2-3p: Refill water, cool off in the Visitor Center.

3-6p: Hike Fremont Gorge Trail (Bring lots of water. It’ll be really hot to start!)

6-7p: Dinner at Your Campsite or the Picnic Area

7-9p: The Scenic Drive.

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