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Experience the Best of Capitol Reef Camping

Discover Unspoiled Wilderness: Your Guide to Camping in Capitol Reef National Park

For my family, Capitol Reef was a big and wonderful surprise. We decided to squeeze a Capitol Reef camping trip in between our visit to the Moab area and our time in Salt Lake City simply because it was a convenient location, and we wanted to check another national park off our list. We did not expect to fall in love with the place!

It’s my belief that Capitol Reef National Park doesn’t get much attention because it’s so far out in the middle of nowhere. We’d never heard much about the park, so we didn’t expect much from it. Once we got there, though, we ended up extending our time camping in Capitol Reef by several days. 

If you’ve never been camping in Capitol Reef, it’s high time you go. Here’s what you need to know to plan the perfect Capitol Reef camping trip. 

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When To Go Camping in Capitol Reef

First, let’s talk about when to plan your trip. We ended up in the area in early May, and the weather was absolutely perfect. Anytime in April or May should be similar, making late spring a lovely time to visit. 

Fall is also supposed to be amazing, with October being a favorite month for those who enjoy those cool, crisp autumn nights around the campfire. 

Summer does get very, very hot in Capitol Reef, and winters are quite cold. For this reason, you might want to stick to the shoulder seasons as you try to decide when to go camping in Capitol Reef. 

Capitol Reef Camping: Where To Stay

Our top pick is always to stay in the national park itself whenever possible. Unfortunately, because Capitol Reef was a last-minute addition to our springtime adventures, the in-park campground was full when we went to book. 

The good news? There are options besides camping in Capitol Reef itself. 

Fruita Campground

Fruita Campground is the official NPS campground and is located inside the national park. It’s a lovely little campground tucked back in the trees with a surprising amount of greenery and plenty of wildlife wandering around. (The whole park had a surprising amount of greenery, actually.)

It does not have any hookups, but the location really can’t be beat. There are restrooms with flush toilets, potable water, and a dump station available, but there are no showers. 

Capitol Reef Overflow Dispersed Camping

The Capitol Reef Overflow Dispersed Camping spot is where the park sends people when the campground is full (which, I’ve gathered, is pretty much all the time during the busy season). It’s where we ended up camping, and it was fine.

You park up on a hill, giving you beautiful views of the surrounding area, and you’re close to both the park and the town of Torrey. There are also portapotties available in case your van doesn’t have a toilet.

The only downsides? We were not able to get Starlink to work at this location because the view of the north sky was blocked (our Verizon hotspot worked fine, though), and we had a hard time getting level. We also heard a lot of road noise. 

Note: If you do choose a boondocking option, you can fill jugs with potable water at the visitor center. You can also use the dump station and potable water fill-up in Fruita Campground for a fee. 

Beas Lewis Flat Dispersed Camping

We actually saw a number of boondocking spots in the area, and we chose to drive through a couple in order to scope them out for next time. Beas Lewis Flat Dispersed Camping was our favorite. This place is located right outside the town of Torrey, making it incredibly convenient. It’s also relatively close to the national park.

We liked that the sites are more private here, tucked in between shrubs and away from the road. It also seemed like getting level might be a bit easier, and Starlink almost certainly would have worked.

Wonderland RV Park

Lastly, there is Wonderland RV Park. There are actually a few RV parks relatively close to Capitol Reef, but we drove by this one several times, and it seemed like a particularly good pick. The park is located in the town of Torrey and is one of the closest full-service RV parks to Capitol Reef.

The sites here are level and offer full hookups. Restrooms with showers, Wi-Fi, cable TV, and a laundry room are all available. 

What To Do When Camping in Capitol Reef

Once you’ve figured out when to go and where to stay, the only thing left to do is decide what you’ll do once you get there. Here are our favorite things to do in the park while camping in Capitol Reef. 

Grab Baked Goods at Gifford House

You absolutely must stop by Gifford House and pick up some fresh baked cinnamon rolls or pies while you’re visiting. The baked goods are some of the best out there. Yes, they are a bit pricey, and you will probably have to get up early if you want to snag your favorites before they’re gone for the day, but they are well worth it!

Hike the Hickman Bridge Trail

One of our favorite hikes was the Hickman Bridge Trail. This is a 1.7-mile, out-and-back trail that takes you through some super interesting rock formations, eventually circles under a cool arch, and then gives you some stunning views before you head back. It is a moderate hike, so you will want to arrive prepared, but our two kids did it without an issue. 

Check Out Petroglyphs

One cool thing about this park is that, besides being a stunningly beautiful place, it’s also chock-full of amazing history. One of the nuggets of history we enjoyed most while visiting the park was the petroglyphs on the rock walls. Be sure to stop at the Petroglyphs Trail (more of a short boardwalk stroll than a trail) to see these amazing ancient works of art. 

Do the Sulphur Creek Waterfall Hike

If your kids love water as much as mine do (and especially if it’s hot out), the Sulphur Creek Waterfall Hike is a must-do.

This path takes you back and forth across the creek several times, so be prepared to get your feet wet! It also takes you right by the Sulphur Creek Lime Kiln, which was pretty cool, and the way the creek ran under rock outcroppings was incredible to see. Of course, the views were amazing as well.

The end reward? A small waterfall and swimming hole where my kids splashed for a while. 

Take In the Views

Finally, we highly recommend making a stop at Panorama Point to do a bit of exploring and take in the stunning views there. For more awesome views, you could also choose to head to the Goosenecks and Sunset Point Trail and check out the gorgeous views while also getting in a nice hike.

Yes, we thoroughly enjoyed camping in Capitol Reef, and I know there is sure to be more Capitol Reef camping in our future. Are you ready to take a Capitol Reef adventure of your own? 

This post may contain affiliate links or mention our own products, please check out our disclosure policy here.
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