Off the Radar: Capitol Reef National Park




Capitol Reef National Park

Finding a beautiful national park in America is not hard to do. But finding one that’s not crowded in the summer months can be challenging.

One to consider: Capitol Reef National Park in south-central Utah. Up until 1962, there wasn’t even a paved road leading to this area. Today, there are still only few paved roads, leaving the dramatic rugged landscape largely unblemished and the hiking blissfully serene.

The park protects the Waterpocket Fold, which is a 100-mile-long wrinkle in the earth’s crust that’s been weathered and eroded over millions of years. The area is magnificently scenic with nature-carved sculpture all around: sandstone cliffs, multi-colored canyons, towers, domes, and arches. But there are also suprising landscapes such as alpine forests and green valleys. Geologists say this “wrinkle” was most likely caused by the same colliding of the continental plates that created the Rocky Mountains.Capitol Reef National Park

Take a look at this spherical panaroma (click left) beautifully created by Martin van Hemert. If these don’t get you packing your hiking boots and camera, nothing will.


Closest town: Torrey, Utah is eight miles west of the visitors center on Highway 24. It has motels and restaurants. There is a campground within the park, but it fills quickly during summer weekends.

When to go: Open all year, though May through September are the most popular months.

--Susan Farewell

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