When we moved to Utah we heard about the amazing National Parks that we had to explore! There was Arches, Zions, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and what was the last one….? Capitol Reef! It’s so sad that this park doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves because it was absolutely spectacular! In fact, if you’re not one for crowds this may be the BEST National Park for you to visit. Situated in South-Central Utah, it was a nice scenic drive from Salt Lake to get there. With its red rock cliffs, canyons, domes, bridges, and orchards (what?!), this is a park that you do not want to overlook.
Where to stay:
I had the opportunity to stay at the Sunlit Oasis while visiting the park. My favorite part? The location! With the backdrop of the Henry Mountains and Capitol Reef it makes for a perfect place to sit on the deck and watch the sunrise. My room, the Golden Throne, was nothing short of amazing. With its western home vibes and the giant bathtub (perfect for relaxing sore muscles after a day of hiking) you’ll not want to leave. Because it is a bed & breakfast, you will wake up to the smell of bacon and get a generous homemade portion. With the comfortable beds, incredible views and welcoming atmosphere, Sunlit Oasis will be a place that I will return to time and time again. Check out all the other rooms offered and book your stay here!
What to see:
The Gifford Homestead:
Gifford is my maiden name so I had to check this place out! Once used to be a thriving farm is now a cultural site that depicts the life of early Mormon pioneers in the Fruita Valley. It was a nice break from all the hiking to stop and enjoy a moment in the shade of the fruit trees and to eat the best homemade fruit pies! I choose the pumpkin pie because…fall vibes. Don’t miss a chance to feel the pioneer spirit at this unique settlement. If you are into history you can learn more about the Gifford Farm here.
Grand Wash Trail– I tried to hike all the way up to Cassidy’s Arch but the rain was a factor that I had to take into consideration and ended up turning around about 1/2 mile before I got to it. Next time I will make it to you, Cassidy’s Arch! However, I wasn’t disappointed at all with hiking the Grand Wash Trail. This is a great one for all skill levels.
Another easy hike is to Sunset Point. The trail can be a bit difficult to follow but if ever in doubt, just follow the cairns. I made it just a little after sunset, but I can imagine that during those few minutes where the sun is falling behind the red rocks it would be glorious! If you’ve got small children or a clumsy travel buddy, don’t let them get too close to the edge because it’s a long ways down to the bottom. While you are parked at the Sunset Point Trail take a moment to walk to the edge and view Goosenecks Point. The view is incredible and you can see Sulfur Creek that runs through the canyon below. Heck, I would pack a picnic and a blanket and find a flat boulder on top and enjoy an unforgettable evening!
If you are not into hiking, the scenic byway along Utah Highway 24 is for everyone! As Visit Utah states, this drive has “nonstop knockout scenery.” Grab a map at the visitors center and take your time driving through the park. There are various pullouts you can park and stop to admire the beauty. The whole drive provides countless opportunities for photo ops. Take the picture below, for example. I literally just pulled off to the side of the road on one of the designated pullouts and snapped this incredible view. Seriously, the whole drive is like this which makes it really hard to not stop every 50 feet!
The trip to Capitol Reef was an incredible experience and one that I keep telling people about! I hesitate to write this article because I almost don’t want this somewhat lonely park to get the attention that it deserves…what can I say, I like hidden gems. Alas, as a travel blogger and one having genuine interest in wanting others to experience the amazing spots that I travel to…here it goes. I highly recommend this park to anyone needing a break from life, a much needed retreat with loved ones, a moment to refocus on the most important things, and an adventure of a lifetime. Capitol Reef, you stole my heart.
Don’t let the colder weather discourage you from visiting National Parks! Bryce Canyon during winter was an absolute dream. We can’t wait to come back one day. Below are some other parks that we enjoy visiting during the offseason!
I want to thank the Sunlit Oasis for hosting me on this trip and recommend this accommodation to anyone traveling there! All opinions are our own.