What You Need to Know to Visit Capitol Reef National Park in May

Wondering what it’s like to visit Capitol Reef National Park in May?

Use the tips below and our Capitol Reef National Park guide to plan your trip.

capitol reef national park in may

Below you’ll see our list of things to do, what to pack, where to stay and the services available at Capitol Reef in May.

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Capitol Reef National Park in May

There are cool things to do in Capitol Reef National Park any time of year.

May is a terrific time to enjoy the outdoors because the weather is just about perfect!

If you’re wondering what it’s like to visit at other times of the year, check out this resource of the best time to visit Capitol Reef National Park!

Here’s what you can expect when you take a trip to Capitol Reef in May.

May Weather at Capitol Reef

Temperatures in June: high 73 / low 46 degrees Fahrenheit. The May weather at Capitol Reef is perfect for enjoying the outdoors! Since the mornings and evenings will still be cool, we recommend a fleece jacket for layering and have a warm hat and gloves  just in case!

In May, you might encounter rain so pack weatherproof clothing and camera gear protection if the weather forecast predicts rain!

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 Visitors in May

May is a popular time for most people to visit the Utah National Parks so be prepared for crowds.

If you’re dressed for the cooler mornings, it’s a great time to enjoy the outdoor hiking and photography in this desert landscape.

AND you’ll avoid the busy time when the park is full of visitors!

Hickman Bridge at Capitol Reef

Things to Do at Capitol Reef in May

Check out all the fun things to do at Capitol Reef National Park!

Here are some tips for visiting Capitol Reef National Park in May:

  • Check road and weather conditions.
  • Be flexible with your schedule, especially when it rains as conditions may make some roads impassable.

Visitor Center at Capitol Reef

Capitol Reef is open all day, every day.

The visitor center is open daily, but hours in the early spring may vary so call 435-425-3791 and follow the prompts for current visitor center information.

Stop by the visitor center for current information about road conditions. camping, ranger-led programs and to pick up a copy of the Park Map.

Gifford Farm at Capitol Reef in May

The Fruita area is the main part of Capitol Reef. It includes the Gifford Homestead, blacksmith shop, barn and orchards.

We love to shop for all the fun unique handmade items and eat the yummy locally baked fruit pies and homemade ice cream!

Another one of the favorite activities at Capitol Reef is picking fruit from the orchard, but this activity isn’t available in May. Here’s a harvesting schedule if you want to arrange your vacation around those dates.

orchards at capitol reef

Scenic Drives at Capitol Reef

The Capitol Reef scenic drive is a must-do activity to see and photograph the cliffs, canyons, domes and bridges!

If you’re up for adventure, and the weather allows it, drive the Cathedral Valley District of Capitol Reef. It’s a remote, rugged region that requires vehicles with high ground clearance. If it’s been raining, you may need four-wheel drive depending on road and weather conditions.

When it rains, the roads become muddy, washed out, and impassable to the best high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicle, so check at the visitor center before heading out!!

The Waterpocket District in the southern section of Capitol Reef is fairly remote and rugged, but has the best scenery!! Most passenger cars, pickups, and vans can usually negotiate the roads without difficulty.

BUT again any rain can leave roads slick, muddy, washed out, and impassable to the best high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicle, so check at the visitor center before taking the drive.

Capitol Reef Photography

Photographing the amazing landscape at Capitol Reef is one of our favorite things to do. We recommend these places to photograph Capitol Reef:

Sunrise photography: we’ve had good success at Panorama Point and Sunset Point.

Sunset photography: we like are Panorama Point, Sunset Point and along the scenic drive 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!

Capitol Reef Stargazing in May

There is a reason why Capitol Reef is internationally recognized as one of the best places to stargaze.

The skies are clear and with the park in a remote location it allows you to get some of the most incredible views of the night sky that you will ever see. 

In May the milky way is visible in the sky in the middle of the night. Don’t forget to have a headlamp with red light when taking photos at night.

Capitol Reef Hiking in May

There are so many fun Capitol Reef hikes to choose from, with trails for all levels of hiker.

Some of our favorite hiking trails are: Hickman Bridge, Grand Wash and Capitol Gorge Wash.

Remember the park’s elevation is 5500 feet. If you’re coming from a lower elevation, or from sea level, trails that are considered “easy” might be more difficult for you.

When hiking at Capitol Reef it’s important that you take the proper gear, plenty of water and healthy snacks.

Capitol Reef Ranger Led Programs in May

Ranger-led programs are a great way to learn about Capitol Reef. The programs available in May are geology talks, evening programs and the Junior Ranger Program for kids!

Capitol Reef Camping in May

There are quite a few places to stay at Capitol Reef National Park. There’s a large developed campground in the Fruita area. This is a popular place to stay and fills quickly. Reservations are available from spring to fall.

You’ll also find primitive campgrounds in the remote parts of the park in Cathedral Valley and along the Notom-Bullfrog Road.

Other Capitol Reef Activities

Places to Stay Near Capitol Reef

Capitol Reef National Park Itineraries

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