Off-road enthusiasts are required to keep vehicles on designated routes when driving within Capitol Reef National Park. That said, inside the park there are rugged routes leading into scenic areas, and many of the park's colorful vistas may be experienced from jeep trails just outside park boundaries. Recommended drives include:
Vehicles with good ground clearance can usually negotiate the 58-mile loop road through spectacular Cathedral Valley's stark landscape, past such landmarks as the Temples of the Sun & Moon and Glass Mountain. Road conditions can vary greatly depending on recent weather conditions so check at the visitor center for current road and weather information before visiting Cathedral Valley.
The western half of the Cathedral Valley Loop, or the Hartnet Road, begins 11.7 miles east of the Visitors Center off Utah Hwy 24. Visitors must ford the Freemont River soon after leaving the highway, which may require a 4WD vehicle, in order to take this route to Cathedral Valley. The remaining 24 miles provide a sweeping view of the Blue Flats and the South Desert. High clearance vehicles are recommended. Travelers should stop by the Visitor Center for the most recent updates on weather and road conditions.
Caineville Wash Road
The eastern side of the Cathedral Valley Loop, or the Caineville Wash Road, begins 18.6 miles east of the Visitor Center. By taking the eastern side of the Cathedral Valley Loop, visitors avoid the Fremont River Ford. For those planning to drive the entire loop it is recommended that they start at the River Ford to make sure they are able to make the crossing. Conditions on the Caineville Wash road vary widely based on recent weather. Check with the Visitor Center for current road information.
The Burr Trail is one of the most popular backroads in southern Utah. From Boulder, it extends for about 68 miles through Grand Staircase-Escalante's Long Canyon and Circle Cliffs, the Waterpocket Fold of Capitol Reef National Park, and other amazing scenery to Hwy 276 above Bullfrog Marina on Lake Powell.
Boulder Mountain, south of SR 24, has many roads that are excellent for 4-wheel drive vehicles. North of Boulder Mountain, over the back of Thousand Lake Mountain via Loa and Fremont, is a ruggedly scenic 25-mile route into Cathedral Valley in Capitol Reef National Park.
South Draw Road
This high clearance 4-wheel-drive road stretches from Pleasant Creek to the park boundary near Tantalus Flats. The road is rocky and rough, and crosses the creek several times. In harsh weather the road becomes impassable for even 4WD vehicles. Access to the road from Boulder Mountain is closed during winter because of deep snow.
This dirt road intersects Utah Hwy 24 9.3 miles east of the Capitol Reef Visitor Center and stretches south to Bullfrog Marina. This road offers beautiful scenery as well as superb hiking; access to many of the park's backcountry trails can be found along this route. The condition of this road changes with the weather. It is recommended that visitors check with the Visitor Center before heading out.