Capitol Reef

Key information: Capitol Reef

  • Varied and interesting walking on and near a long and spectacular fold in the earth’s crust.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating84
  • Beauty32
  • Natural interest16
  • Human interest4
  • Charisma32
  • Negative points0
  • Total rating84
  • Note: Negs: Popularity.

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Your choice
  • Maximum Altitude: N/A
  • Level of Difficulty: Variable

This walk description page is at an early stage of development, and will be expanded over time. Your comments on this walk, your experiences and tips, and your photos are very welcome.

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WALK SUMMARY

Capitol Reef in Utah must be one of the world's thinnest national parks, a very long slice of heavily eroded sandstone along the narrow, in places wildly broken, Waterpocket Fold, a near 100 mile long wrinkle in the Earth's crust. 

The Fold takes different forms along its length; the best known area is the Capitol Reef, around the village of Fruita, thus known because it us topped by a layer of white Navajo sandstone which has eroded into shapes which include a dome which earlier explorers thought looked like Washington's Capitol. The lands to the west are significantly higher than those to the east, so the Fold is burrowed-through by numerous creeks. 

The best-known walk here is the trail to the Rim Overlook (7+ km return) and onward to the Navajo Knobs (15+ km return), which begins near Fruita, branching off north-west. The Rim Overlook, about half way to the Navajo Knobs, sits on top of the huge reef-edge cliffs, with enormous views to savour. From there it is a descent then climb to a viewpoint on top of the peculiar excrescences that are the Navajo Knobs.  

There are 14 other shorter walks (up to 10 miles) in the Fruita area, including the hour or so up a lovely low canyon to the spectacular Hickman rock bridge (3km return); and the narrow Capitol Gorge. The 5.6km return walk to Cassidy Arch looks excellent, as does the Chimney Rock Loop.

The Cathedral Valley to the north, with its magnificent free-standing “temples” or “cathedrals”, is particularly special. The Cathedrals Trail climbs to a mesa-top, then winds out to its edge for several wonderful views of the “cathedrals”.

There are a number of excellent-looking longer and overnight trails around Fruita, including in the Cathedral Valley area.

This can be tough walking in remote country. Come properly prepared, including carrying enough water. 

There are plenty of fine walks elsewhere along the Waterpocket Fold  - we need to enlarge on these. Community Suggestions Requested!

There is a good Wikipedia page on Capitol Reef, and the NPS (www.nps.gov/care) site is as good as you'd expect and has information on walks available.

You can camp nearby. Summer is hideously hot and can have dangerous thunderstorms. Spring and Autumn are the best times to visit.

 Our friends and partners Responsible Travel have a selection of walking and other holidays in South-west USA. You should get good ideas, perhaps for something you hadn’t thought of!

We want to give further details of walking here please send us any thoughts and photos you have

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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