Capitol Reef in August: Things to See, Do and Photograph

If you want to visit Capitol Reef in August, here’s a list of things to see, do and photograph!

Use the tips and resources below and our Capitol Reef National Park guide to plan your August vacation.

capitol reef national park in august

Keep reading to know all about what it’s like in August at Capitol Reef: services available, weather to expect, tips to avoid the crowds and heat, fun activities to do and more!

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National Park Packing List

When you are visiting US National Parks it is important to be prepared. This includes wearing the proper clothes and shoes to be comfortable for the climate and the terrain.

→ CHECK OUT: National park packing lists for spring, summer, fall and winter!

Outdoor Gear we recommend! Travel Gear & Hiking Gear

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In August you’ll find all services are open: Visitor Center, Gifford House and campgrounds! Check the website for specific Capitol Reef operating hours.

It will be hot at Capitol Reef in August. Keep in mind that summer is a popular time for most people to visit the Utah National Parks. One good thing is Capitol Reef is the least-visited of the five National Parks so it won’t be as busy as the others. The mornings and late afternoons are good times to avoid the crowds and the heat of the day!

If you’re wondering what it’s like to visit at other times of the year, check out this resource of the best times to visit Capitol Reef National Park! It tells you what to expect when visiting the park during any season, or any month of the year.

Capitol Reef Weather in August

The weather at Capitol Reef National Park in August is hot with highs near 88 and lows near 63 degrees Fahrenheit.

This part of Utah is a dry high desert so it’s important to drink and carry a hydration pack or a refillable water bottle in your backpack. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunscreen, UV sunglasses, and lip balm with UV protection!

The summer monsoons are common in August so also be prepared with rain gear. for you and your camera! You’ll want to stay informed on the specific weather conditions and forecasts on the NPS website for the areas of the park you will visit.

capitol reef national park in july

Things to Do and Points of Interest at Capitol Reef in August

Check out all the fun things to do at Capitol Reef National Park! Here are tips for visiting Capitol Reef in August:

  • Check road and weather conditions.
  • Talk to the rangers about potential flash floods in the park.
  • Be flexible with your schedule, especially when it rains as conditions may make some roads impassable and some trails unsafe due to flash floods.

Capitol Reef Visitor Center

The Visitor Center is always a good first stop to get the most up-to-date information for road and trail conditions in Capitol Reef as well as camping and ranger-led programs.

The park is open all day, every day. The visitor center is open daily, but check the Capitol Reef website for operation times. You can get a copy of the Capitol Reef Park Map there too.

Capitol Reef Fruita Area

The Capitol Reef Fruita area is the main part of the park where you’ll find the Visitor Center, Gifford Homestead, blacksmith shop, barn, orchards, and campground.

Stopping at the Gifford Homestead you’ll find unique handmade items in the shop. In August you’ll enjoy locally baked fruit pies and homemade ice cream!

Picking fruit from the orchards is a popular activity at Capitol Reef! In August you’ll be able to pick peaches and pears, yum! Here’s a Capitol Reef harvesting schedule if you want to arrange your vacation around those dates.

orchards at capitol reef

Capitol Reef Scenic Drives

The main Capitol Reef scenic drive is full of stunning landscapes like colorful cliffs, canyons, domes and bridges! Remember the summer monsoons can make the main scenic drive hazardous when raining so check with the Visitor Center before heading out. Heed all signs before entering the narrow Capitol Gorge or Grand Wash canyons! Since the monsoons usually happen in the afternoon, we recommend you take the drive in the morning.

The Cathedral Valley District of Capitol Reef is stunning! If you’ve got the right vehicle, and the weather allows it, we recommend you explore this remote, rugged region of the park. It does require vehicles with high ground clearance. If it’s been raining, you may need four-wheel drive depending on road and weather conditions.

After a rain, the unpaved roads at Capitol Reef become muddy, washed out, and impassable to the best high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicle, so check at the visitor center before heading out!!

We also like the Burr Trail drive found in the Waterpocket District of Capitol Reef. The landscape is stunning. It’s another fairly remote and rugged road, but most passenger cars, pickups, and vans can usually negotiate the roads without difficulty. But if it’s been raining, the roads can be slick, muddy, washed out, and impassable so check at the visitor center before taking the drive.

Photograph Capitol Reef

Landscape photography in the summer can be difficult due to the harsh light. This is why sunrise and sunset are the best times to photograph Capitol Reef:

  • Sunset photography: We recommend Panorama Point, Sunset Point, Scenic Drive and Fruita (to capture the reflected light on the canyon walls)

Grab our Capitol Reef Photography Guide that will tell you when and where to get the best sunrise, morning, sunset and nighttime pictures at the park!

Take jaw-dropping photos at Capitol Reef

Stargazing at Capitol Reef

Did you know that Capitol Reef is internationally recognized as one of the best places for stargazing? It’s incredible to see an endless sky of stars without light pollution! Be sure to take one evening to get away from any lights in town and LOOK UP!

In August the milky way is visible in the sky around 9:30 pm to 1:30 am! Don’t forget to have a headlamp with red light when taking photos at night.

Hiking at Capitol Reef

There are so many fun Capitol Reef hikes with trails for all levels of hiker. Some of the popular hiking trails are: Hickman Bridge, Grand Wash and Capitol Gorge Wash.

Remember the elevation at Capitol Reef is 5500 feet so if you’re coming from a lower elevation, or from sea level, trails that are considered “easy” might be more difficult for you.

In August you’ll need to be prepared for the summer monsoon season at Capitol Reef! Thunderstorms with heavy rain can cause severe flooding in canyons. Water can rise quickly downstream from heavy rain, even when the parent thunderstorm is miles away! Check with the Visitor Center before heading out on any hike, especially Grand Wash and Capitol Gorge.

When hiking at Capitol Reef in August it’s important that you stay hydrated! Carry a hydration pack or a refillable water bottle in your backpack. Also pack some healthy snacks.

Capitol Reef Ranger Programs

There are year-round Ranger-led programs to learn all about Capitol Reef. Some of these programs are: geology talks, evening programs and the Junior Ranger Program for kids!

In August you’ll find some other special programs offered:

  • Guided Hike
  • Ranger’s Choice
  • Star Talk
  • Full Moon Walk

Capitol Reef Camping

You’ll find one large developed campground in the Fruita area. It’s one of the popular places to stay at Capitol Reef National Park. Be sure to make reservations when visiting in July because the camping spots fill quickly at this time of year.

There are some primitive campgrounds at Capitol Reef in the remote parts of the park in Cathedral Valley and along the Notom-Bullfrog Road.

Other Capitol Reef Activities

SHOP AMAZON: Capitol Reef Travel Guides and Maps:

capitol reef guides and map

Places to Stay Near Capitol Reef

Places to Stay at Capitol Reef National Park

  • Capitol Reef Resort – this is where we stay! Make it a unique experience and stay in a teepee or covered wagon!
  • Austin’s Chuckwagon Motel – basic rooms and cabins with a deli and store right on the property which is so convenient!
  • VRBO Vacation Rentals – we like finding a place with a kitchen so we can prepare our own food.
  • RV Share Rentals – enjoy the convenience of having an RV delivered to you at Capitol Reef!

Plan a Capitol Reef Vacation

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