When one talks about visiting the South-West of the USA, everyone is always raving about the Grand Canyon and the Bryce Canyon and Yosemite National Park. And of course these are the highlights of that area, but there are also so many lesser known gems that are just waiting to be discovered.
One of those gems for us was the Capitol Reef National Park. Before planning our trip, we hadn’t heard about it yet, but our travel guide raved about it, so we figured; who not stop as well? And we didn’t regret it at all. Especially my dad had a blast discovering the unpaved roads.
While Capitol Reef National Park is supposedly best explored by hiking, we didn’t find any hikes that 1) weren’t too time consuming and 2) interested us enough. Luckily there are many driving tours and scenic routes as well, which was right up our alley!
We started off with the main scenic route that starts from the Visitor Center. On that route there are a few stops such as Cliffort House, but that’s nothing too special. The area you’re driving through the definitely the most note-worthy (see picture above).
But while this road offers beautiful sights, it’s nothing compared to the unpaved road we took at the end of the main road. I was so happy we had our Toyota Rav4 so we were able to drive the Capitol Gorge road. It. was. stunning. You’re right in between the cliffs.
Unfortunately it’s not advisable to take this road with a normal car. So if you want to drive these roads, make sure to rent a high clearance car for your trip.
After this drive we were so excited about the unpaved roads, we decided to also drive the Grand Wash. Sadly this wasn’t so impressive as the previous one. It was also a bit more technical cause of big holes in the road so my dad couldn’t really enjoy the views as he had too focus too much on not wrecking the car.
By the time we were at the Visitor Center again, it was already getting quite late, but we still wanted to take the tiny hike up to the Goosenecks Overlook. This trail is only 0,2km and leads to an amazing view.
Early the next morning, we headed back for the one trail that we hadn’t had time for anymore. Of course that wasn’t the best choice for that time as this trail was called the Sunset Trail. It’s a 0,6km trail to a beautiful view area. But even at sunrise it was breath-taking.
After the sunrise, it was time to continue our road to the next stop; Bryce Canyon National Park. Take into account that this road (Highway 12) is also a scenic route and there are many view areas such as Hogsback and Larb Hollow Overlook. Definitely worth it to take your time there!
Capitol Reef National Park can be found close to Torrey, Utah. Entrance fee is included in the America The Beautiful pass and the park is open 24/7.