Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, USA

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, USA on northtosouth.us

Have you ever seen a yellow-bellied marmot? Now I can say that I have! On day 5 of our road trip, we visited a lesser-known U.S. National Park: Capitol Reef. And it turned out to be one of the most unique places we saw on the trip. 

Capitol Reef National Park on northtosouth.us

Driving in to Capitol Reef National Park, Scenic Byway 24

Capitol Reef National Park is located in Utah, with Scenic Byway 24 running right through it. Taking the slow, scenic route, it was a great place for us to stop between Bryce Canyon and Arches.

Capitol Reef National Park on northtosouth.us

Though we hadn’t heard of the park before, Utah had so far proven itself to be gorgeous. So we headed in and found Capitol Reef to be no exception.

Capitol Reef National Park on northtosouth.us

THINGS TO DO IN CAPITOL REEF

Capitol Reef has a unique collection of things to see and do. Of course you’ll see the natural beauty of the Waterpocket Fold (a “wrinkle in the earth”) when you drive through, but you can also visit the Gifford Farmhouse, go hiking or berry picking, and maybe see some of the park’s diverse wildlife.

Chimney Rock at Capitol Reef National Park on northtosouth.us

Chimney Rock at Capitol Reef National Park

We saw tons of mule deer and yellow-bellied marmots on our visit. The deer were going crazy over the berries that had blown out of the orchard’s gates.  You can also buy a berry pie at the Gifford Store, if the orchard is closed or you don’t have time to pick berries.

Mule deer at Capitol Reef National Park on northtosouth.us Mule deer at Capitol Reef National Park on northtosouth.us Berries in the road

I SPOT A MARMOT!

I get really excited whenever I actually get to see the wildlife mentioned in the park visitor guides, so naturally I was giddy when I spotted my first marmot. The first one I saw was on the side of the road when heading on our way out of the park. This little guy scrambled away pretty quickly, but I was happy to have had a marmot sighting at all.

However, to my extreme delight, when passing through the orchard area a little further down the road, we saw a plethora of these yellow-bellied guys along the road. We parked and jumped out to take pictures, but these guys weren’t too eager to have their photo taken, either. They kept a safe distance from the camera at all times.

Yellow-bellied Marmot at Capitol Reef National Park on northtosouth.us

A yellow-bellied marmot at Capitol Reef National Park

Visit the NPS website for more park info, maps, and guides.

PHOTOGRAPHING THE WATERPOCKET FOLD

Capitol Reef National Park on northtosouth.us

Unfortunately, rain was threatening to fall, so we took the advice of the posted signs and didn’t drive into the wash areas. But we did capture some nice photos from Capitol Reef. Ian experimented with long exposures, using a neutral density filter with the 14mm on the Fuji X-T1.

Capitol Reef National Park on northtosouth.us

Capitol Reef National Park on northtosouth.us

Capitol Reef National Park on northtosouth.us

Capitol Reef National Park on northtosouth.us

FLOWERS IN CAPITOL REEF

Adding to the colorful beauty of the park is the abundance of plant life growing along the edges of the washes. Below is a sample of some of the flowers we saw throughout the park. (I took these with my smart phone.)

Indian paintbrush at Capitol Reef National Park on northtosouth.us

Indian paintbrush at Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park plant life on northtosouth.us  Capitol Reef National Park plant life on northtosouth.us

CAMPING NEAR CAPITOL REEF

We didn’t camp at Capitol Reef, since the campgrounds had just filled up when we arrived mid-afternoon. But at the suggestion of the camp host, we found the perfect place to camp in BLM land at mile marker 90, not far outside the park.

Camping in BLM land outside Capitol Reef National Park on northtosouth.us

Camping in BLM land at mile marker 90 along Scenic Byway 24

Camping under the stars on northtosouth.us

A YUMMY BREAKFAST

The next morning we were hungry and had run out of our breakfast camping food. Though tempted to drive back into Capitol Reef for a pie, we ventured onward and stopped for breakfast in Hanksville where we had the best service of any restaurant I’ve ever been to at Duke’s Slickrock Grill. The food was delicious, too. I couldn’t get enough of the berry syrup!

I hope you enjoyed this post about Capitol Reef. If you’re a camper, too, you may want to check out 5 Healthy Camping Meal Ideas with 6 Ingredients or Less or Our 5 Essentials for Sleeping Easy on a Summer Camping Trip here on North to South.

About the Author

Diana Southern
In March 2014, Diana called it quits on her traditional American working life and set out to explore the world with her partner in crime (and love of her life) Ian Norman. They now live a sustainable life of full time travel, working for themselves and seeking adventure at the same time. Here on North to South, Diana documents their journey in achieving and maintaining this "road less traveled" way of life.

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