Remote Beauty in Utah’s Capitol Reef Country

·3 min read

This article originally appeared on My Grand Canyon

Capitol Reef National Park greets visitors with stunning monoliths rising from the desert floor, sheer cliffs and colorful sandstone. And best yet? Fewer crowds than many of Utah's other national parks. Get a jumpstart on your day exploring the park at Dark Sky Coffee in Torrey, Utah, which has a drive-thru so you can hit the road faster.

While there's so much to see and do in Capitol Reef, locals suggest planning an entire day to drive the Cathedral Valley Loop. This remote part of the park promises solitude and will wow you with its stunning formations. High-clearance vehicles are required. Not traveling in an adventure rig? Rent a Jeep from a local outfitter.

Jeep at overlook in Capitol Reef Country, Wayne County, Utah
Jeep at overlook in Capitol Reef CountryCourtesy Wayne County Tourism

More accessible is Fruita, the preserved settlement from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Located just east of the visitor center, you'll find a homestead, which now sells gifts and pies, a one-room schoolhouse and apple, peach, pear and cherry orchards where you can harvest ripe fruit on trees with "U-Pick Fruit" signs and self-pay for your bounty.

The Fruita orchard and barn at Capitol Reef National Park
The Fruita orchard and barn at Capitol Reef National Park (Photo: Depositphotos)

Capitol Reef is just the beginning of what this scenic part of Utah has to offer.

"Our landscape is so diverse here," says Capitol Reef Country director Nycole Durfey. "We have greys and purples that look like Mars, the reds of Capitol Reef and beautiful green forests."

You'll find yourself wondering if you haven't been transported to another planet when you visit Goblin Valley State Park outside of Green River. The soft sandstone in this park has eroded into bizarre formations that some say resemble goblins.

Hiker in Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
Hiker in Goblin Valley State ParkDepositphotos

For more breathtaking views, drive Scenic Byway 12, rated one of the top 10 most scenic drives by National Geographic, from Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon National Park.

"It should really be its own national park," says Durfey. "You can see forever."

At the end of the day, treat yourself to dinner at The Hunt & Gather in Torrey, serving dishes so beautifully plated, they'll compete with the national parks for your favorite views of the trip. Or, for a more casual meal, head to Chak Balam which serves classic Mexican dishes alongside octopus and cow tongue tacos. Locals come from all over the area to eat at Capitol Burger Truck, which serves hand-pressed and inventive burgers at the corner of 100 W. and Main Street most evenings.

You'll find accommodations to fit every taste in the area from Cowboy Homestead Cabins to the beautiful Cougar Ridge Resort, a favorite of Hollywood stars.

For More Information:
Wayne County Office of Tourism
(800) 858-7951

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