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Old 06-19-2016, 04:21 PM   #1
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Capitol Reef National Park

On our way to Oregon next month we are planning on visiting Capitol Reef National Park. It is a Gold-tier Certified IDA International Dark Sky Park, and we love starry skies. Has anyone been here before? If so, how did you like it and do you have any suggestions?
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Old 06-19-2016, 05:46 PM   #2
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I've been there a number of times over the years on BMW motorcycle rallies. Torrey Utah is hallowed ground for BMW sport touring members, both those still here and those who have passed. The roads are great, and will support speeds far in excess of what the Park Service will allow. Scenery is typical canyon lands, in other words, awesome. Not as spectacular as the Grand Canyon or Zion, but not as crowded either. Even though my motorcycling days are in my rear-view mirror, I still stop by the Chuckwagon Motel whenever I'm in the area for the nostalgia, and grab a hamburger and shake at Slacker's.


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Old 06-19-2016, 06:13 PM   #3
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Thanks, we will have to try Slackers!
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Old 06-19-2016, 07:49 PM   #4
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Don't get there too late in the day. It is not a very large campground but it is nicely laid out. There is an apple orchard, a remnant from the old farm. You can eat what you like while in the orchard but pay for what you take out. It is well worth the trip.
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Old 06-19-2016, 07:53 PM   #5
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Last time we were there, there was no park entrance fee.. If possible get there before 10:00 AM. It fills up fast.
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Old 06-19-2016, 08:38 PM   #6
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This is typical of Capitol Reef.

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Old 06-19-2016, 09:25 PM   #7
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Great destination, one we love - good info. above. Night skies in this general area are impressive. Alternate, dry camping options not too far from Capitol Reef are USFS Singletree on Boulder Mtn. (8300' elevation), and USFS Fishlake Mackinaw (8800' elevation.) No hookups, but cooler due to elevation; close enough for day visits to the NP; some sites reservable. I'm no expert but suspect the night skies may be better at the higher elevation.
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Old 06-19-2016, 10:05 PM   #8
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You can find a few pictures of Capitol Reef on our trip in September 2013; a place I would highly recommend. And the night skies out there in Utah in and around the national parks are superb. We were there in September and as a result were able to pick apples - and my bride made us an apple pie! https://travelwiththeslowskys.com/20...eptember-2013/
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Old 06-20-2016, 07:10 AM   #9
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Thanks!
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Old 06-20-2016, 12:05 PM   #10
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great one!! We were there three weeks ago
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Old 06-20-2016, 12:35 PM   #11
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Wonderful place. Campground fills early, but there's open camping on BLM land just outside the park to the east.
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Old 06-20-2016, 12:45 PM   #12
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We were there about 4 weeks ago. No reservation. Obtained a spot but you have to get there early. It's a beautiful park and the roads are good. Three camping loops in Fruita campgrounds. Good hiking and plenty to see.

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Old 06-20-2016, 01:27 PM   #13
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Agree wholeheartedly with all previous posters, would add that Utah Hwy 12 toward Canyonville, UT is one of the most beautiful drives in the state if not the nation.
Wonderland (former name of Capitol Reef before it was adopted by the NPS) RV Park in Torrey is a good location and rate if you are not able to get in a state or national park campground. It boasts an actual "sheep shack" cabin which has been restored for those who are RVless. Enjoy the rocks!
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Old 06-20-2016, 02:10 PM   #14
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We visited Capitol Reef last spring. As mentioned, the campground fills up fast as it's first come, first served. There are no services on site (i.e. electricity, etc.) but there is a water fill and dump station. Last year, the campground was full by 11:00 in the morning. Check out the gift shop in the old farm house adjacent to the campground for their wonderful pies that are delivered fresh every morning from a resort in Torrey. BTW - bring your own wine as there is nothing available in the vicinity.
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Old 06-20-2016, 05:06 PM   #15
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We blundered upon this gem many years ago, simply because it looked like a good place for a lunch spot. We stayed several days, even though we were about to run out of food. The apricot orchard (you pickum') gave us what we needed. We had apricot pancakes, apricot short cake, dried apricots and, of course, fresh apricots. Cherries were also ripe at the time and we enjoyed them as well, although we couldn't pick them.

The geology is much the same as in Zion and/or Grand Canyon and we saw lots of deer. It was a memorable stop and we have been back. We consider Capitol Reefs one of the hidden gems of the National Park system. You're gonna' LOVE it!
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Old 06-20-2016, 06:03 PM   #16
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We were there last month... The campground about a mile past the visitor's center is very nice ... dry camping, but as mentioned above, you need to get there early if you want a spot... There are commercial several RV parks west of the entrance at the intersection of hi ways 24 and 12 and a bit further west in Torrey, but I'd recommend reservations...it was VERY busy when were were there... We stayed at the 1000 Lakes RV Park in Torrey...nice place... And yes, go to Slackers or The Burger Joint in Torrey for lunch.

Unless you want to do a lot of hiking, you can see most of the area in a couple of days...it's beautiful.
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Old 06-20-2016, 11:58 PM   #17
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The popular, iconic western national parks have gotten way too crowded lately. This spring, we actually left the Grand Canyon early-- we just couldn't take the crowds packed in 4 and 5 deep at the scenic overlooks.

Capitol Reef, while less spectacular, is much less crowded. If you can't get into the Fruita campground in the park, or don't wish to camp without hookups, we've stayed at the rustic Thousand Lakes RV park in Torrey a couple of times and would recommend it.

If you enjoy hiking or scenic drives in more out-of-the-way places, Capitol Reef is a great place. It has a half-dozen really popular hikes that can get crowded, but then lots of other ones that are beautiful with more solitude. The drive parallel to the Waterpocket Fold (Notom to Bullfrog) is really great, with places to stop and hike into the formations.

Capitol Reef and Torrey are up fairly high in elevation, so anyone camping there during the shoulder seasons should expect freezing nights.

If you're in that area, you might also enjoy the Escalante River area (complete with an Airstream RV park in Escalante,) and Natural Bridges National Monument.
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Old 06-21-2016, 01:55 AM   #18
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Capitol Reef is one of my all time favorite parks. I try to go at least once a year. Diddo on what everyone said about the campground. It is a beautiful little gem and can fill up, so arrive early. I have also camped at the FS campgrounds on Boulder Mountain, and they are great. I have never seen them fill up. Above 8,000 feet and much cooler.

I would plan to stay a couple of days. And be sure to stop at the old farm house for a personal berry, peach, cherry, apricot or rhubarb pie. It is just a short walk from the campground. Yummm!

I sort of hate that all these people are talking about Capitol Reef. It really is one of the undiscovered jewels of the National Parks in Utah.

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Old 06-22-2016, 12:57 PM   #19
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On other thing worth mentioning: the former little town of Fruita in Capitol Reef really was a fruit-growing community. The Park Service is actually keeping up the orchards, as a way to preserve both the cultural and natural heritage. In season, you can pick fruit for something like $1/lb on the honor system. We loaded up on apples during our visit there last October.
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Old 06-22-2016, 06:59 PM   #20
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I stopped briefly at Capitol Reef on the return leg of my Zion/Bryce trip a few weeks back. It was amazing! The Chimney Rock trail is great hike with amazing views, and the scenic drive is indeed very scenic. There's no entrance fee per se, but to use the scenic drive there's a kiosk (info sign with a tiny roof and a drop box, really) where you're supposed to deposit a fee if you don't already have an appropriate pass. We didn't camp there, though. The entire area is quite scenic - Utah Routes 12 and 24 are hundreds of miles of awesome.
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