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Visiting Capitol Reef in the Fall

Why choose Capitol Reef National Park for your fall trip?

Utah has always been an endearing escape for travelers with renowned attractions and things to do. So it is also no surprise that national parks are the centerpiece of most itineraries. Utah has five spectacular national parks that have become a refuge for adrenaline junkies, nature lovers, and hiking enthusiasts.

Even though it is often overlooked amongst Utah's national parks, Capitol Reef National Park still ranks among the top 25 national parks in the United States. For a good reason. With breathtaking scenic drives, historical landmarks, eventful hiking trails and stunning landscapes, you can't go wrong visiting Capitol Reef this fall.

Whereas travelers have habitually checked off their bucket lists in the summer, fall still ranks as one of the best seasons to visit Capitol Reef. The fall season means cooler temperatures, beautiful scenery and other unique activities, such as picking fresh fruit from orchards.

In addition, visiting the park in the fall also means beating crowds, getting some quiet time with travel partners, and sharing lifelong memories. In this article, we will help you plan your itinerary to the last detail, from where to get a peaceful night's sleep to where to glimpse some fall foliage.

Where to stay on your trip to Capitol Reef

Hotel experience is critical in having a successful holiday. And it doesn't get better than Red Sands Hotel in Torrey, Utah. Recently remodeled and expanded with meticulous attention to detail, Red Sands is the ultimate gateway to adventure while in Utah.

From outstanding room service to impeccable amenities, Red Sands is a home away from home. The hotel has spacious rooms, a restaurant, a bar, Wi-Fi, a yoga room, a conference space and has the only spa in town. The hotel also has a delicate touch of modern desert décor to give guests a pinch of the splendor of Utah. There is also an indoor pool, hot tub and an outdoor patio with a fire pit where guests can gaze at the stars late at night.

One plus to planning a trip to Capitol Reef in any season is you have a reliable concierge partner to pamper you throughout your holiday. Unlike most hotels in Utah that close during the winter season, the Red Sands Hotel has its doors open throughout the year.

Packing for your trip to Capitol Reef

The Capitol Reef experiences temperatures with highs of 79°F and lows of 51°F with three days of rain in September, 65°F high and 41°F lows with three days of rain in October and finally, 58°F high and 23°F with two days of rain in November. Whereas temperatures are significantly lower in the national park during the fall season compared to summer, you will still need some planning to have a remarkable trip to Capitol Reef.

Given that this part of Utah is a dry high desert, you will have to drink and pack plenty of water to enjoy the outdoors. You may not feel as thirsty in the cooler temperatures so it's important to watch for dehydration. Also, pack some sunscreen and lip balm to protect yourself for UV. You can still get sunburnt even in cooler temperatures.

Depending on when you visit, the dress code will play the ultimate role in having a wonderful trip. In September, something light, perhaps light wight pats and a light shirt, will serve you right. But in November, additional layers such as a fleece jacket, gloves and a warm hat become necessary when temperatures drop. Therefore, you will need to do enough research on the day's weather before setting off for Capitol Reef.

Where to see fall foliage in Capitol Reef

Seeing fall foliage is the real gist of any trip in fall. And whereas there isn't a bad season to visit the Capitol Reef, the park undoubtedly kicks things up a notch in fall. Fall offers travelers the holy trifactor from cooler temperatures, breathtaking scenery, and fewer crowds, making it arguably the best season to visit the park. So here are the three best places to see fall foliage in Capitol Reef.

Wayne County

Surrounded by three mountain ranges, Wayne County is one of the best places to glimpse fall foliage. The three mountain ranges peaking at different altitudes are home to various trees that change color as temperatures drop. Just taking a drive through the valley is enough to capture amazing pictures and take in colorful views.

Higher regions have foliage turn color early in the season, whereas driving to the valley means you might find green leaves and high temperatures. The sight of the ranges from a distance gives off the aura of a Picasso masterpiece.

Scenic Byway 12 Highway

Driving in Utah in the fall always presents some postcard-worthy moments, particularly the Scenic Byway 12, rated the #2 most beautiful highway in the world where the fall foliage is ever breathtaking. Often referred to as the "All American Road," the highway has two national parks (Bryce and Capitol Reef) on either end of the road. The road also passes through the Red Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante monument, Boulder Mountain, and the Dixie National Forest.

To fully enjoy the foliage, turn south from Byway 24 and begin the ascent to the summit along the eastern front of Boulder Mountain. While on this 20-minute drive to the summit, you will encounter pine and later aspen trees, with each ascent having even more spectacular views. While visiting Capitol Reef, also check out some of the most eventful hiking trails, such as Fremont River Trail, Grand Wash, Frying Pan Trail, Golden Throne and Hickman Bridge.

West Boulder Mountain

Boulder Mountain is home to over 80 small lakes attributed to molten snow. Most of the lakes are found in the north. However, the west side of Boulder Mountain is just as endearing and an exceptional stop for camping, fly fishing, hiking and others. Safe to say, this is one of the best places to hook a large brook trout.

Move south from Loa, Bicknell or Lyman to access the western part of Boulder. While there, there are so many activities for travelers, such as horse riding, biking, and taking ATVs. There is also a passage that connects to the Dark Valley Trailhead for travels to go hiking.

Visiting Capitol Reef in any season is a jam-packed experience. However, the park is even more delightful in the fall season thanks to incredible scenery, fall foliage and fewer travelers. There is no need to wait until the summer; carry your camera and some extra memory sticks with you on this lifetime trip.

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