Capitol Reef Main Park Attractions
Hwy 24 provides access to visitor facilities and some of the main attractions in Capitol Reef National Park, including the Visitor Center, campground and Scenic Drive. Several popular trails begin in this area and lead to backcountry attractions. There is no fee to drive the highway through the park, or to stop at the Visitor Center.
The highway runs east-west, between the towns of Torrey and Hanksville. You can come into the park from either direction. Here we'll consider the main points along the highway, from west to east.
Panorama Point is a scenic vista overlooking the Sulphur Creek goosenecks. It is located at the end of a short spur road that drops south from Hwy 24 near Chimney Rock. An easy trail extends for a short distance along the canyon rim and provides dramatic views.
This is a towering stone steeple, a prominent structure along the highway west of the visitor center. From the parking area, the Chimney Rock tail provides a 3.5 mile loop hike that winds above the rock and provides outstanding views. One section climbs steep switchbacks; the rest of the trail is rated as moderate. Rock climbers are not allowed to climb Chimney Rock.
The park Visitor Center and campground are located adjacent to Hwy 24 in the middle section of the park.
The Fruita Historic District is located just east of the Visitor Center along Hwy 24. Anglo-American pioneers settled the Fremont River Valley in 1880, establishing a community called Fruita. They built simple homes, planted crops and opened a school. Some historic items remain from that period and are important resources managed by the park service. Legacy fruit orchards can be seen along the highway. Fruit from the trees is available to visitors seasonally.
The old Fruita schoolhouse has been restored and sits at its original location along Hwy 24. The historic Gifford Homestead, located along the park's Scenic Drive, is typical of rural Utah farm-houses of the early 1900s and is open during the summer season. Cultural demonstrations and handmade sales items are available. Another structure, the Behunim Cabin, can be seen from Hwy 24 east of the orchards.
Ancient rock art can be seen along a sheer cliff that parallels Hwy 24 in the Fruita area. Most of the rock art figures were carved by people from the Fremont Culture. An astonishing collection of figures can be seen on several rock panels. Boardwalks and viewing areas have been established to make it easy for visitors to see the figures.
This is a beautiful, photogenic natural bridge that can be seen at the end of a short hike. It is located along Hwy 24, just east of the petroglyphs. A short hike leads to the massive stone structure. The trail is steep in spots and is rated as moderate by the park service. Total hiking distance is 2 miles (round trip). (more)
Many white sandstone domes can be seen in this area, towering over the Fremont River. People think they somewhat resemble the US Capitol, hence the "Capitol" reference in the park's name.
Fremont River Waterfall
There is a beautiful waterfall on the Fremont River that is a popular stopping point along Hwy 24 near the park's eastern border. The waterfall cannot be seen from the road, but the parking area is easy find. A short stroll leads down into the canyon and up to the waterfall, which is very photogenic. Many people enjoy wading into the pool below the waterfall. The park does not provide lifeguards or supervision, so people wade at their own risk.
Spring Canyon is a deep, narrow chasm located north of Hwy 24. It extends from Thousand Lake Mountain down to the Fremont River. It's a great area for long day hikes or overnight backpacks. The upper trailhead is at Holt Draw, along a short spur that leaves Hwy 24 just west of the park boundary. You can also get into the middle part of the canyon from the Chimney Rock trailhead. The lower trailhead is located at the canyon's confluence with the Fremont River, about 3.6 miles east of the Visitor Center.
Additional information about Capitol Reef National Park can be obtained by contacting:
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