May is a terrific time to visit Capitol Reef National Park. Located in south-central Utah, you’ll find a variety of things to do at Capitol Reef National Park in May.
Use this Capitol Reef National Park guide to plan your trip: activities, tours, what to pack, and services available this time of year.
From hiking trails and canyons to historic sites and scenic drives, there is something for everyone in Capitol Reef National Park.
With its unique geology, rich history, and stunning views of the surrounding desert, it’s no wonder that so many people visit Capitol Reef National Park!
Check out these Capitol Reef itineraries to help you plan your vacation based on the time you have to spend at the park:
- Capitol Reef National Park in one day
- Two days in Capitol Reef National Park
- Three days in Capitol Reef National Park
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A Photo Tour of Capitol Reef National Park
Take a visual tour through Capitol Reef National Park to see the stunning landscape and wildlife you’ll find in the park!
Capitol Reef National Park in May
May is a popular time for most people to visit the Utah National Parks so be prepared for crowds. Capitol Reef is the least-visited of the Utah Parks which makes it a great place to visit during the busier times of the year.
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!
May Weather at Capitol Reef
Temperatures in May: high 73 / low 46 degrees Fahrenheit. The Capitol Reef National Park weather in May is perfect for enjoying the outdoors!
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.
May Operating Hours at Capitol Reef
The Capitol Reef park and campgrounds are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The Visitor Center is open every day in May. Check the website for the most updated Capitol Reef hours for the time you’ll be there in May.
Capitol Reef National Park Fees
There are a variety of passes available to visit Capitol Reef. Check the website for the most current fee prices and information.
You won’t need a US National Park pass to drive along Highway 24 or through the Fruita area, but you will need one to access the Scenic Drive just past the Fruita Campground.
Did you know when you buy the National Parks Pass from REI, they donate 10% to the National Park Foundation?)
Capitol Reef AUDIO TOUR
“Download the app to your phone – no cell or wifi service needed. Based on your GPS location, the app takes you on a guided tour of the park and points out all the interesting features and stops. It’s like having a park ranger in the car with you.”
Things to Do at Capitol Reef in May
Check out all the fun Capitol Reef National Park activities you can do in May!
Capitol Reef Ranger Programs in May
Stop by the visitor center for current information about road conditions. camping, ranger-led programs and to pick up a copy of the Capitol Reef Park Map.
Capitol Reef Ranger-led Programs are a great way to learn about the park. The programs available in May are geology talks, evening programs, and the Junior Ranger Program for kids!
Gifford Farm in May at Capitol Reef
The Fruita area is the main part of Capitol Reef National Park. It includes the Visitor Center, Gifford Homestead, blacksmith shop, barn, orchards, and campground.
Enjoy some locally baked fruit pies (the best) and homemade ice cream at the Gifford Homestead!
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 Capitol Reef harvesting schedule if you want to arrange your vacation around those dates.
Hiking in May at Capitol Reef
There are so many fun Capitol Reef hikes to choose from, with trails for all levels of hiker.
Some of our favorite day hikes in Capitol Reef National Park are: Hickman Bridge, Grand Wash, and Capitol Gorge Wash.
The elevation at Capitol Reef 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.
It’s important that you pack the right gear for hiking:
- Carry and drink at least two liters of water. Use refillable water bottles or hydration packs. We carry Propel powder packets to add to our water to help replace electrolytes.
- Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin! Due to the dry heat in Utah, you’ll also want lip balm and lotion!
- Healthy snacks with salt.
Scenic Drives in May 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, drive the Cathedral Valley District of Capitol Reef. It’s a remote, rugged region that requires vehicles with high ground clearance.
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 any rain can leave the roads to Cathedral Valley and the Waterpocket District 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.
We recommend the Capitol Reef GyPSy Guide App to hear fun behind-the scenes stories and local tips that play automatically as you drive, based on your GPS location.
Photography in May at Capitol Reef
Here’s our list of the best Capitol Reef National Park photography spots:
- Sunrise photography: Panorama Point and Sunset Point
- Sunset photography: Panorama Point, Sunset Point, Eph Hanks Tower, 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!
Stargazing in May at Capitol Reef
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 from 11:00 pm to 4:00 am. Don’t forget to have a headlamp with red light when taking photos at night.
Tours in May at Capitol Reef
With experienced guides on Capitol Reef National Park tours, you can explore all the amazing sights the park has to offer and make sure you don’t miss anything.
Whether you’re looking for a half-day or full-day excursion, there are plenty of Capitol Reef tours available to fit your needs: guided hikes, llama and horse rides, photography, and Jeeping!
- Capitol Reef Guided Llama Hike
- Capitol Reef National Park’s 2-Hour Horse Rides
- Capitol Reef Milky Way Photography Tour
- Capitol Reef Cathedral Valley Jeep Tour
- Private 4X4 Trip at Cathedral Valley, Capitol Reef
Camping in May at Capitol Reef
You’ll find one developed campground in the Fruita area for Capitol Reef National Park camping. This is a popular place to stay and fills quickly. Reservations are available from spring to fall.
You’ll also find Capitol Reef primitive campgrounds in the remote parts of the park in Cathedral Valley and along the Notom-Bullfrog Road.
You’ll also find RV Parks near Capitol Reef National Park if you can’t find a campsite in the park.
If you’re looking for something fun and unique, check out the fun spots for glamping near Capitol Reef National Park!
Things To Do Near Capitol Reef in May
- Best Stops Along Scenic Byway 12
- Visiting Kodachrome Basin State Park
- Escalante Petrified Forest State Park
- Lower Calf Creek Falls Hiking Guide
- Bryce Canyon Travel Guide
- Visiting Goblin Valley State Park
Packing List for Capitol Reef in May
Be sure to use a Capitol Reef National Park packing list so you have the right clothing and gear to enjoy all the outdoor activities for your May vacation! Grab your free printable packing list by clicking the image below!