Planning Your Time

Capitol Reef in One Day

Pack a picnic lunch, snacks, and cold drinks to take with you (there are no restaurants in the park). As you enter the park from the west, look to your left for Chimney Rock; in a landscape of spires, cliffs, and knobs, this deep-red landmark is unmistakable. Start your journey at the visitor center, where you can study a three-dimensional map of the area, peruse exhibits, watch a short film, and browse the many books and maps related to the park. Then, head for Scenic Drive, stopping at the Fruita Historic District to see some of the sites associated with the park's Mormon history. Visit Gifford Homestead to browse the gift shop. Enjoy that lunch you packed at picnic tables on rolling green lawns lining both sides of the road by the Gifford House.

Check out the Fremont Indian Petroglyphs, and if you feel like some exertion, take a hike on the Hickman Bridge Trail. From the trail (or 2 miles east of the visitor center from Highway 24 if you skip the hike), you'll see Capitol Dome. Along this stretch of Highway 24 stop to see the old one-room Fruita Schoolhouse, the petroglyphs, and the Behunin Cabin. Next you'll have to backtrack west a few miles on Highway 24 to find the Goosenecks Trail. At the same parking lot you'll find the trailhead for Sunset Point Trail; take this short hike in time to watch the setting sun hit the colorful cliffs.

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Fodor's The Complete Guide to the National Parks of the USA: All 63 parks from Maine to American Samoa

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