The park is named for a white domed rock that resembles the a capitol building, and because the rocky cliffs were once a barrier to travel like coral reefs. Those cliffs house canyons, arches, bridges, and views of the crumpled geology along the Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile long wrinkle in the Earth’s crust that exposes millions of years of sedimentary rock layers.
Over two days, we hiked a few trails (descriptions here, and the ranger also recommended Fremont Gorge for sunset):
- Cohab Canyon (3.4 mile out-and-back)
- Rim Overlook (4.6 mile out-and-back) (the ranger said if you hike Rim Overlook, there’s no need to do Hickman Bridge separately)
- Cassidy Arch (3.4 mile out-and-back)
and had a brunch picnic in the back of the truck with Bugsy at Slickrock Divide on the Scenic Road. Capitol Reef is lovely, and oddly was not crowded at all–perhaps because it’s a bit off the beaten path, at the far eastern end of Route 12. If you’re visiting Bryce, you should carve out a couple days to swing over the Hogback (stopping at Hell’s Backbone Grill on the way) to Torrey and hike around Capitol Reef.