We were on our way further west through Utah to Capitol Reef. Not having heard much about this National Park we knew the least about this park and really weren't sure what to expect. Even in the books we had outlining National Parks the sections for Capitol Reef were small and didn't have much to say in regards what you might see. The drive to Capitol Reef from Arches may have been one of my favorites with great scenery that kept changing every few miles. There were even a few times we regretted not stopping for pictures along the route.
When arriving at the main entrance to Capitol Reef it was very different from the other parks because it was very green and lush with orchards lining the road for a few miles leading up to the visitors center. We learned the area is known for its orchards and fruit that you can't find anywhere else in the world, but we will get back to that.
Capitol Reef had more historical sites to see and stories to learn while we were there. There are petroglyphs that date back 2,000 years, a trail you can take that was used by Butch Cassidy to hide out from the law and orchards that are watered by historical irrigation practices and kept up by the National Parks that contain a variety of fruits.
The orchards where a huge surprise to us when we arrived and we learned that throughout the summer when fruit is in season you can pay to go pick it off the trees. Unfortunately, there was not anything in season when we were there. Early summer (May-June) and later in the summer (August-September) are the best times to pick fruit off the trees.
Capitol Reef is also home to some great slot canyons. If you like exploring slot canyons plan to spend a few days at Capitol Reef. It will be like your own personal playground.
Capitol Reef's boundaries are long and narrow. To the south you can take a long dirt road through the park, however, make sure you know the weather because there are cautions everywhere that flash floods happen often. You can see where the road washes out and get a glimpse of how powerful flash floods can be just by looking at the landscape as you drive through the park. We didn't get a chance to check out the northern part of the park but talked to a few hikers that said it is a great area to hike because it is very untouched with very few visitors to the area.
- Visit the high points of the park to get above some of the terrain for the best pictures.
- Take advantage of the orchards even if there isn't anything in season, just walking through the lush green orchards makes you feel like you are in a different world after all of the red rock areas you will be going through in Utah.
- Slot canyon lovers make sure to plan for extra time in this park.