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Capitol Reef Country: The Ideal Destination for Family Adventure

If you love the outdoors, Utah's Capitol Reef Country is waiting for you.

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I grew up camping. We started with tents and moved up to a fold-down camper. By the time I was 12, I was an expert at all things caves, burial grounds, The Great Lakes, and the trail to Texas from Ohio. Whether the destination had historical significance, or it had a particular natural beauty, we headed straight for it on every long weekend, or extended vacation we could take. Given that history, it is no surprise that I’m particularly drawn to Capitol Reef Country in Wayne County, Utah as I continue to map out my travel bucket list for 2016. Filled with activities perfect for families, couples and solo travelers alike, it looks like the perfect place to disconnect from screens and reconnect with the world.

What caught my eye?

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A Place of Stunning Beauty

Let’s start with the obvious – everything about Capitol Reef National Park and the surrounding areas is beautiful. The park itself features dramatic red rock formations that become even more vibrant as the sun shifts in the sky. I can see myself just sitting for hours breathing in this place. And it’s not only desert – Capitol Reef National Park is also filled with vast meadows, verdant valleys and towering Alpine forests. Literally, there is something for nearly every travel taste here.

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The Keeper of a Fascinating History

Beyond the geological history that can be explored here, this area has a deeply engaging human history to examine. The Fremont people are remembered through their petroglyphs that are etched into the sandstone from nearly 1,000 years ago, and early Mormon settlers carved their names to mark their passage. This kind of thing immediately sparks questions in me about the lives of the people who settled here, and you know that kids can create entire worlds from this kind of inspiration. Luckily, the historic Gifford Farmhouse and other properties have been restored to provide some answers to those very questions. Deep in the heart of the Fruita Valley, you get a chance to see what life might have been like for Mormon settlers in the early 1900s. And if the stories alone aren’t enough to tempt you, the homemade items in the store just might. Jams, dried fruits, jellies, homemade ice cream and locally baked pies using fruit from the very trees that surround you when you visit are sold here.

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Activities Perfect for Children

If you are like my parents, you are always looking for a place that can combine a bit of history/education with physical activity. Ripple Rock Nature Center invites children in to talk to the rangers, engage in hands-on learning, map ancient earthquakes (which I would love even now!!), and kids even have a chance to become Junior Rangers. How fun is that? But beyond those specific things, children will love the chance to walk with you and spot the massive domes, marvel at the white rock formations (and yes, their resemblance to the U.S. Capitol building is the reason for the park’s name), and to gaze at the seemingly impossible number of stars in the night sky – one of the darkest night skies in the country. You can even pick fruit straight from the trees in the Fruita Valley during the summer and fall harvests each year – and with more than 2700 fruit trees to choose from, you certainly won’t run out of options.

 

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Temptations for Adventure Travelers, Hikers, and Everyone Who Loves the Outdoors

From horseback riding to fishing to biking to ATV tours, if you love the outdoors, they have a novel way for you to enjoy it. Personally, I’m awed by the idea of going through the slot canyons. As a novice hiker, I’d be tempted to start with the Little Wild Horse Canyon in the Southern portion of the San Rafael swell. It isn’t considered difficult, but it still consistently ranks as one of the best slot canyon hikes in the world. I figure if I’m going to start this kind of adventure, I should start with one of the best! Those of you looking for higher levels of difficulty can definitely find it here. Are you looking for something a little less difficult, but still amazingly scenic? The towering walls of Capitol Gorge may be your best destination. The walk is reportedly easy, so if you are traveling with newbies like me, or children, this will be a great place to start. Not able to easily scramble over rough terrain? Try the Jeep tours of the area. You will still get to experience fantastic views and see much of the surrounding towns, depending on which tour you choose.

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These are just some of the reasons that I’m considering adding Capitol Reef National Park to my 2016 travel list. Who wouldn’t want to explore a 100-mile long “Waterpocket Fold” – a literal wrinkle in the earth – that has resulted in magnificent monoliths of the Cathedral Valley, among other sights? I want to see the Chimney Rock and admire the natural arch of Hickman Bridge. I want to get a peek at the wildlife, and I want to picnic while taking in the powerful vistas before me.

 

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Now I could visit this area as part of a day trip, and limit myself to just one hike and a visit to Gifford Farmhouse. However, I think I’d feel disappointed that I didn’t take the time to really explore the area in different ways. The good news is, it looks like there are quite a few places in the surrounding areas to grab comfortable lodgings (and, of course, those of you who love camping have a multitude of options). The “gateway” city of Torrey is only 8 miles from the park and appears to be the definition of a charming Western town. Restaurants are plentiful, and the Bed and Breakfasts in the area speak to me. Not that I would limit my explorations of the towns to Torrey, but it looks like the perfect place to start.

 

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How about you? Have you decided to add a trip to 
Capitol Reef Country to your travel plans? Whether you are traveling with kids or planning a solo trip with nothing more than a backpack, this place may be your ideal escape. Click here to learn more about this magical destination.

 

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This post has been sponsored by Capitol Reef Country. All photos were provided by Capitol Reef Country and posted here with permission.

68 Comments on Capitol Reef Country: The Ideal Destination for Family Adventure

  1. Looks Amazing. Utah is gorgeous. I have been wanting to go exploring for a while.

  2. It’s beauuuuuutiful! And how so lucky for you that you get to camp in beautiful places for long weekends and extended holidays. I need to take a flight if I want to go somewhere nice… Unfortunately, nothing very interesting in where I live. 🙁

    • PatriciaSteffy // April 11, 2016 at 1:44 pm // Reply

      We are very lucky that we have some great spots around here to visit. Sadly, Utah is still a flight away for us, but it is starting to look like a flight we should take!

  3. That landscape is absolutely gorgeous, especially those rock formations. I would love to go hiking in Capitol Reef Country if I ever have a chance to do a road trip through the states.

  4. This is great information! I would love to visit the Gifford Farmhouse! I am all about learning fun historical facts. Thank you for giving me an idea for a travel destination I wouldn’t have considered otherwise!

    • PatriciaSteffy // April 13, 2016 at 3:32 pm // Reply

      I agree with you– I love visiting places with historical interest. I hope you go! I’d love to hear about your experiences there.

  5. I don’t like camping but wouldn’t mind spending one whole day in Capitol Reef National Park… The photographs are amazing I cannot imagine actually being there! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • PatriciaSteffy // April 13, 2016 at 4:02 pm // Reply

      I’m not much of a camper, either, but I could be tempted by those B&B spots in Torrey, for sure!

  6. What a wonderful way to grow up, always exploring new places. I would love to visit Utah. Definitely on my list. Your photos are so gorgeous. It is really amazing how much diversity there is in American sites.

    • PatriciaSteffy // April 13, 2016 at 4:03 pm // Reply

      I’ve come to appreciate all the traveling I did with my parents as a child now that I’m an adult. It was a great foundation!

  7. The beautiful redrocks and the “history lessons” have me sold on Capitol Reef! I’m with you, I’d grab lodging down the street 🙂

    • PatriciaSteffy // April 13, 2016 at 7:56 pm // Reply

      LOL!! I’m definitely for the comfort of the nearby town at night, although I would love to see all those stars when darkness really fell. I can’t imagine how great the sunset/sunrises are there.

  8. I’ve only been to Utah once but I absolutely love it and would love to explore around even more. Capitol Reef Country looks amazing and right up my alley!

  9. Wow! This place is gorgeous and your photos are stunning. I would love to go horse back riding. I remember when I was a kid I went horse back riding and still remember it till this day.

    • PatriciaSteffy // April 13, 2016 at 7:57 pm // Reply

      That would be so much fun! I haven’t been riding since I was 12, so I would definitely need a guide (or monitor). Still, it would be quite the adventure!

  10. Holy cow! Lookit those formations! The drive must’ve been breathtaking. I’ve never been horseback riding but I’d love to try!

    • PatriciaSteffy // April 13, 2016 at 10:34 pm // Reply

      I feel like Utah has consistently shown up in my “ooooh, I want to go to there” list. I might just get a little adventurous and try those slot canyons after all!

  11. Next time I am in the US Capitol Reef is on my list! I’ve seen some petroglyphes in Valley of Fire but the ones on your picture look amazingly well preserved.

  12. Looks like an amazing place! Definitely I am into places that involves a historic and educational perspective!

  13. Wow, that picture of the cowboys is great, as are the scenic photos!!! I live in Colorado and thought WE had it good 🙂

  14. This is awesome! Who knew we even had this in the good old USA!

  15. Maria Milea // April 14, 2016 at 7:14 am // Reply

    Utah is gorgeous! It is included in my plans for this year. I have only been to Arizona and Nevada in that area but I know Utah is a must as well!

    • PatriciaSteffy // April 14, 2016 at 3:15 pm // Reply

      That’s so exciting! Let me know how the trip goes! It has definitely been added to my “must see” list.

  16. Since leaving the United States to try out the expat life, I’ve been so drawn to seeing more of whats inside my homeland. I would’ve never known about this place if you never wrote about it. I love the petroglyph photo. Would love to see those in person!

    • PatriciaSteffy // April 14, 2016 at 3:16 pm // Reply

      I’ve gone through phases in my life where I traveled a lot, and then other phases where I traveled only on holidays to see my family. But I’ve loved learning about so much of this country that I never knew before — it’s definitely one of the biggest advantages to this travel writing life!

  17. The pictures are amazing and capitol reef country looks like the perfect getaway. It has all the elements – adventure, history, nature and beautiful landscape.

    • PatriciaSteffy // April 14, 2016 at 3:17 pm // Reply

      It really does look like it would be inspiring to me. I feel like spending a couple of days out there could result in so much inspired creativity for months after the trip.

  18. Those rocks, the shape and the color are simply amazing! I wouldn’t have the courage to do down on a bike on them though. Looks pretty dangerous. However, I would really enjoy a horse ride.

    • PatriciaSteffy // April 14, 2016 at 3:18 pm // Reply

      I’m pretty timid when it comes to those things, so I would probably stick to just hiking through until I really got to know the place. I would like to try riding in some of the open area, though.

  19. Wow those are some pretty incredible views! I’d love to visit here someday! I just discovered I loved camping when I went backcountry camping my first time awhile ago 🙂

    • PatriciaSteffy // April 14, 2016 at 6:40 pm // Reply

      I have mixed feelings on camping — I’m more of a cabin with a bathroom girl than tent camping. But I’d love to be able to sit here and star gaze at night. The number of stars you can see on a clear night is supposed to be incredible.

  20. Looks like an amazing place for a family travel adventure! I’ll be looking in to going with my children!

  21. This landscape is just unbelievable, but I’m not a good camper! Maybe I can find a nearby BnB?!

    • PatriciaSteffy // April 15, 2016 at 1:35 pm // Reply

      That sounds like a great idea to me, and it sounds like nearby Torrey could be the spot for a more comfortable stay. 🙂

  22. Wow! This place looks amazing! I have actually never heard of this place at all. But I am so adding it to the list! The rock formations alone are worth the trek. I love Bryce Canyon, but so much more to see!

    • PatriciaSteffy // April 20, 2016 at 1:53 pm // Reply

      I didn’t know anything about it either until I started researching. I swear it seems like a different world entirely! The funny thing is, I’m now looking at another area in Utah, near Park City, and it looks 100% different from this place. Such diversity!

  23. Love this! The scenery is stunning and I would love to go horse-riding in that kind of terrain. Growing up camping sounds like a fab way to grow up. I m never happier than when I’m in the great outdoors too.

    • PatriciaSteffy // April 20, 2016 at 4:38 pm // Reply

      I went through a lot of years being stuck in an office, so now that I have the freedom to travel, I’m starting to appreciate spending time in places like this. I definitely want to get here within the year!

  24. Gorgeous photos – and a new national park to add to the must-visit list!

    • PatriciaSteffy // April 20, 2016 at 4:58 pm // Reply

      Yes! With all the stuff the National Park Service is doing for their 100 years celebrations, there’s even more of a reason to go to Capitol Reef this year.

  25. Sooo beautiful! I am constantly amazed how incredible the landscape in Utah (and much of the National and State Parks in the USA) is! Just when I think I have been to all the good parks, I see another one to add to my list! Thanks for sharing :).

    • PatriciaSteffy // April 20, 2016 at 5:51 pm // Reply

      I’m learning so much as we try to plan our trip. The diversity of the state is really incredible!

  26. Love this!! Such a beautiful place!!

  27. Beautiful! I have not been to Utah in years, it is time for me to go back and see these gorgeous views in person again!

  28. Wow! The pictures look amazing. I really want to check it out now.

    • PatriciaSteffy // April 21, 2016 at 2:23 am // Reply

      You should! And if you do, come back and tell me about your experience! I’m thinking fall might be the perfect time to go, if I can get away. 🙂

  29. This looks beautiful! I have never been to Utah!

    • PatriciaSteffy // April 21, 2016 at 2:24 am // Reply

      It really does seem to have something for everybody! For some reason, I’ve only really associated it with Sundance and skiing. There’s so much more!

  30. I love to hike and this place looks like something i will put on my bucket list once am done with Africa.

    • PatriciaSteffy // April 21, 2016 at 3:38 pm // Reply

      I’d be interested to hear how the hiking compares between the countries you are visiting in Africa and this area of Utah.

  31. I really enjoyed this piece! The pictures are stunning and this is now on my bucket list. Thank you!

  32. Oh my god! This is way too stunning and I can’t wait to visit this place. I didn’t even know this place exsisted, but, luckily, now I do.

    • PatriciaSteffy // April 21, 2016 at 5:04 pm // Reply

      I didn’t either until I started doing research into Utah. I feel like there is still so much to discover!

  33. I have been to Utah a few times but never to Capitol Reef Country. What a photogenic location. It is definitely a great place to bring your family. I can’t wait to add it to our list for when we visit Utah again.

    • PatriciaSteffy // April 21, 2016 at 8:14 pm // Reply

      I think I could spend weeks just photographing the different areas Capitol Reef. It seems so amazing!

  34. Wow, who knew we had such beautiful landscapes in out own backyard!!Thanks for sharing these lovely photos and tips. Hopefully I will make it there one day.

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