""Loop the Fold": Overview" Top 5 Page for this destination Capitol Reef National Park Things to Do Tip by goodfish

Capitol Reef National Park Things to Do: 105 reviews and 247 photos

  Strike Valley Overlook
by goodfish
  • Strike Valley Overlook - Capitol Reef National Park
      Strike Valley Overlook
    by goodfish
  • - Capitol Reef National Park
  • - Capitol Reef National Park
  • - Capitol Reef National Park
  • - Capitol Reef National Park

This 125-mile drive (with a couple of side hikes) was the big reason we didn't get more wear on the boots in the main part of the park. I'm not a bit sorry and you won't be either: it's a 5-star and then some. The route passes through parts of one National Park (Capitol Reef), one National Monument (Grand Escalante/Staircase) and one National Forest (Dixie) with more scenery along the way than you can shake a stick at, and all it'll cost you is some gas and time. Nope, you don't have to buy a park pass at any of them.

I've covered the individual highlights in separate reviews but this is very highly recommended for anyone with a love of changing landscapes and wide-open panoramas - although to see some of the best of that involves a little footwork. The park ranger said we could do this in 3-4 hours? Not even close: there was too much to look at! Here's the skinny before you go:

The route I'm giving you is clockwise: heading east on Hwy 24 from the Visitor Center about 9 miles, south on Notom-Bullfrog Road about 34 miles, west on Burr Trail about 36 miles, and north on Hwy 12 at Boulder about 37 miles to Torrey. From there it's 11 miles east to the Visitor Center. You can also do this loop counter-clockwise.

• A piece of the eastern section (Notom-Bullfrog Road) is over 20 miles of teeth-rattling washboard dirt that crosses a gorge and a few washes - some of them deep and narrow enough to cause problems with RVs/trailers. The road is generally in good shape but can become impassable after heavy rain so it's MANDATORY that you check conditions with the park service before setting off.

• A little piece of the southern route (Burr Trail) is up (or down, depending on which way you go) a series of steep, tight switchbacks NOT recommended for RV's, vehicles towing trailers, or persons afraid of long drop-offs. This piece is also dirt-surfaced and can be dangerously slippery in wet weather. RVers can avoid this by doing the tour counter-clockwise, turning around when the paved road turns to dirt, and returning the way they came - thus skipping the switchbacks and unpaved Notom-Bullfrog segment.

• Free-range livestock, common to this region, were ALL over parts of the western (Hwy 12) section so both eyes on the road and a light foot on the gas!!! I'd make sure to be safely back at the park or Torrey before nightfall: a lot of the cows are black and would be hard to see in the dark, and there were a lot of deer, too.

• There are no services along the majority of the route so have a full tank, spare tire, drinking water, snacks, etc. along. There are a couple of gas stations and restaurants in Boulder, or take a 27-mile side trip down to Escalante - worth it just to cross a high, narrow ridge called the Hogback, or make the hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls.

Ask the ranger's desk at Capitol Reef for more information and/or a brochure to take along. Here we go! If viewing this in the VT Travel Guide for the park, see individual reviews for this drive in the correct order by rolling your pointer over my member photo, clicking on blue "The Big Wrinkle" text to go to my personal travel pages, then referencing the "Things to do" section.

Address: Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Directions: Includes sections of Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and Dixie National Forest
Website: http://www.nps.gov/care/planyourvisit/waterpocketdistrict.htm

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 4, 2012
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