Capitol Reef- Visiting Utah's Hidden Jewel
I bet you’ve heard of the Mighty 5 Utah parks. In the southwest corner of Utah, you have the awe-inspiring dramatic ledges of Zion National Park and in Bryce Canyon National park you’re surrounded by a sea of hoodoo formations engulfed in a lush alpine forest. To the far east of Utah, you have Arches National park, which is one of the top national parks in America, a wonderland of over 2,000 arches, eroding sandstone fins, towers, hoodoos, and even balanced rocks. Right next door you’ll find Canyonlands national park 527 square miles of deep canyons, cliffs, and spires formed by the power of mighty rivers.
The real jewel among these Mighty 5 parks is Capitol Reef National Park, located in south-central Utah in the heart of red rock country. It’s a treasure field with endless bounties of cliffs, canyons, domes, natural bridges, and expansive broad sweeping vistas that meet the endless sky.
Capitol Reef National park is smack dab in the middle of the other four parks. Many people think this is a downfall because they see it as an “out of the way” destination not located by larger cities. The real truth is, this is its Advantage! With recent massive marketing campaigns as well as their proximities to large cities Bryce, Zion and Arches have become flooded with tourists. With miles of traffic waiting for a parking spot, long crowded hiking lines, and sardine-packed trams, it feels more like you’re at Disney World.
Being an “out of the way” park means fewer crowds and an ability to connect to the majestic setting around. You can actually stop on the trail and snap as many photos as you want without worrying about holding up a line behind you. Unlike the other National Parks, you can sit in silence as you listen to the sounds of nature around you.
Photo from the Mandagies
There are a plethora of things to do when visiting Capitol Reef National Park: Camping, Hiking, Scenic Drives, Canyoneering, Petroglyph Spotting, Fruit Picking in the historic settlement of Fruita and so many more things (Check out this travel guide with tons of activities).
For a magical experience, stick around to see the sunset on the western red desert. After a full day of activities, it will be time to eat so head back into the town of Torrey to enjoy one of Southern Utah’s best Steakhouses. Right in the middle of town, you’ll find the Saddlery Cowboy Bar & Steakhouse, it’s open Monday-Saturday from 5 pm to 10 pm. Don’t miss the chance to eat at this authentic cowboy steakhouse, enjoy a juicy burger or slice into a tender sizzling steak hot from the grill. If you enjoy a terrific choice of drinks, the Saddlery has the largest collection of alcohol in Torrey, Utah to choose from, literally hop in a saddle and satisfy your thirst at this unique cowboy bar as you listen to a live band.
Before you and your group leave the Saddlery Cowboy Bar & Steakhouse, throw on some cowboy attire and snap a picture with the famous Saddlery stagecoach to capture the spirit of the wild west!
If you thought the views stopped at dark you are in for a real treat. In 2018 Torrey, Utah was officially recognized as Utah’s first and currently only International Dark Sky Community. A Dark Sky community is a community that has shown exceptional dedication to the preservation of the night sky through the implementation and enforcement of a quality outdoor lighting ordinance. Only 24 communities in the entire world have achieved this honorable distinction. Enjoy your time in Torrey, Utah and get lost in the sea of glowing constellations and depth of the Milky Way.
End your night at the popular Broken Spur Inn where you can take a dip in the pool or soak in the hot tub and enjoy a complimentary breakfast in the morning. If you are looking for a really unique experience stay at the Sky Ridge Inn Bed and Breakfast, each room is styled uniquely and you can soak in a private hot tub on your balcony as you look out at the stars.