Capitol Reef National Park is an amazing destination known for it’s amazing landscape of colorful cliffs, canyons, domes and bridges.
Taking a trip to Capitol Reef National Park in the Spring is a great time to go because the weather is “just right” to enjoy outdoor activities at this park.
Here’s our guide to visiting Capitol Reef in the spring.
- What to pack
- Where to stay
- Spring weather
- Things to do
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WHAT TO PACK FOR A NATIONAL PARK TRIP IN THE SPRING
Packing for a trip in the spring means being prepared for any type of weather!
1. US National Parks Pass
- You can order passes online or get them at any of these Federal Recreation Areas.
- → BUY THE PASS AT REI and they will donate 10% of sales to the National Park Foundation.
2. Hiking Gear
- Spring hiking at some national parks may mean wet trails, and even some patches of snow! You’ll want waterproof hiking boots or shoes: → Check out our favorite Merrell Moab hiking shoes!
- Hiking socks that breath… and if they prevent blisters, that’s even better: → Check out the BEST SOCKS by Darn Tough!
- Walking stick or trekking poles
3. Clothing – Layers
- Wicking and quick-drying base layers
- Fleece or insulated jacket: → Columbia fleece jackets are our favorite!
- Waterproof rain jacket
- WATER: → Use refillable water bottles or a hydration backpack
- FOOD: → Check out our list of healthy snacks
- Flashlight or headlamp
- National Park maps
- Lip protection with sunscreen
- Polarized sunglasses
- Hand lotion
- Toilet paper (carry out in a bag – do not bury)
- Hand sanitizer
- First aid kit
- Bags to pack out trash
- Cell phone
- Portable charger
- Guide books
- Camera Gear – DOWNLOAD the free camera gear checklist!
- Photography gear for hiking
Places to Stay Near Capitol Reef
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.
CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK IN THE SPRING
Spring Weather at Capitol Reef
March: temperatures range from highs near 55 degrees to lows around 31 degrees.
April: temperatures range from highs near 64 degrees and lows around 37 degrees.
May: temperatures range from highs around 73 degrees and lows near 46 degrees.
With the temperatures changing so much throughout the day, it is especially important to dress in layers.
Spring is also the rainy season so be aware of weather before entering any slot canyon!
Spring Break Crowds
Spring weather draws people to Capitol Reef. It’s the best time of year to truly enjoy the outdoors in this desert landscape.
BUT that means Capitol Reef is also a popular spring break destination so it may be more crowded during that time.
Things to Do at Capitol Reef in the Spring
Stop at the Visitor Center
Exhibits, bookstore, general information, toilets, and park rangers on duty. You can get drinking water inside (during open hours) or outside (24 hours a day).
Explore the Gifford Farm
The Fruita valley includes the Gifford Homestead, blacksmith shop, barn and orchards. Be sure to stop by the Gifford house where unique handmade items are made by local artisans like quilts, aprons, woven rugs, soap, crockery, candles and toys. Our favorite part is eating the locally baked fruit pies and homemade ice cream!
One of the favorite activities at Capitol Reef is picking fruit from the orchard. Check the website for the harvesting times for each type of fruit (usually mid-June to mid-October).
The Capitol Reef scenic drive is a must-do activity to explore the cliffs, canyons, domes and bridges!
The Cathedral Valley District of Capitol Reef is a remote, rugged region. Usually, vehicles with high ground clearance, even without four-wheel drive, can drive the roads without difficulty. BUT (and this is important!) road conditions in the spring can vary greatly depending on recent weather conditions. Spring rains can leave the roads 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 oh so beautiful! Most passenger cars, pickups, and vans can usually negotiate the roads without difficulty. BUT spring rains can sometimes leave roads slick, muddy, washed out, and impassable to the best high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicle, so check at the visitor center before heading out!!
The landscape you’ll see at Capitol Reef is spectacular so of course you want to take pictures!
Here’s a list of our favorite places to photograph Capitol Reef:
Sunrise photography we’ve had good success at Panorama Point and Sunset Point.
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.
Spring is the perfect time to photograph the milky way at Capitol Reef too!
There are so many Capitol Reef hikes to choose from! There are trails for families, casual visitors who want to explore, and then the avid hikers that want a real adventure.
Some of our favorite hiking trails are: Hickman Bridge, Grand Wash and Capitol Gorge Wash.
Keep in mind 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 in the spring it is especially important that you take the proper gear and plenty of water.
When it rains heavily over a short period of time the result can be flash floods. Get up-to-date weather information and watch for changing weather conditions. DO NOT enter a narrow gorge or slot canyon if storms are threatening!
There are lots of camping options at Captiol Reef. 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.
Ranger Led Programs
Ranger-led programs are a great way to learn about Capitol Reef. The programs available in the spring are geology talks, evening programs and the Junior Ranger Program for kids!
There are other special programs available during summer and fall like guided hikes, star talk, and full moon walk.