Outdoor Fun at Capitol Reef National Park in the Summer

If you’re planning to visit Capitol Reef National Park in the Summer, use our tips and our Capitol Reef National Park guide to plan your vacation.

The summers at Capitol Reef are busy and it’s hot, but we’ve got tips to help you navigate the crowds and heat.

capitol reef in the summer

Keep reading to find out all the things to do, what to pack, where to stay, and services available at Capitol Reef in the summer.

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Capitol Reef National Park Packing List

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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!

Visiting Capitol Reef National Park in the Summer

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

The summer months of June, July, and August are popular times for people to visit. One good thing is Capitol Reef is the least-visited of the five Utah 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 heat of summer!

Is Summer a Good Time to Visit Capitol Reef?

Summer vacation is considered one of the best times to visit Capitol Reef National Park! It’s not our favorite time due to the crowds and heat. We recommend exploring the park in the mornings when it’s much cooler and there aren’t as many people.

Check out these articles detailing everything you need to know to visit Capitol Reef during the summer months: weather, things to do, and more.

Summer Weather at Capitol Reef

  • June: high 85 degrees | low 56 degrees
  • July: high 90 degrees | low 62 degrees
  • August: high 87 degrees | low 60 degrees

With the cooler temperatures in the morning and evening, it’s good to dress in layers. In early summer we recommend a fleece jacket. And don’t forget sun protection: sunhat, sunscreen and sunglasses.

Things to Do at Capitol Reef in the Summer

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

Capitol Reef 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).

Gifford Farm in the Summer

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.

Here are the fruits you can pick during the summer:

  • Cherries: June to July
  • Apricots: June to July
  • Peaches: August to September
  • Pears: August to September

Capitol Reef Scenic Drives in the Summer

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 fall can vary greatly depending on recent weather conditions. Book a Cathedral Valley 4×4 tour if you want to see this part of Capitol Reef, but you don’t have the right vehicle.

In the summer, the area experiences monsoon rain, which can make 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 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.

Panorama Point at sunrise at Capitol Reef

Photography at Capitol Reef

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 Capitol Reef National Park photography spots:

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

Sunset photography spots 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!

Take jaw-dropping photos at Capitol Reef

Capitol Reef Stargazing in the Summer

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. 

Summer is a good time to photograph the milky way at Capitol Reef!

Summer Hiking at Capitol Reef

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 summer it is especially important that you take the proper gear, protein snacks and plenty of water.

Remember the summer monsoons can dump heavy amounts or rain over a short period of time which can result in 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!

Eph Hanks tower at sunset at Capitol Reef

Summer Camping at Capitol Reef

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.

Summer Ranger Led Programs at Capitol Reef

Ranger-led programs are a great way to learn about Capitol Reef. The programs available in the summer are geology talks, evening programs, guided hikes, star talk, full moon walk and the Junior Ranger Program for kids!

Other Capitol Reef Activities

SHOP AMAZON: Capitol Reef Travel Guides and Maps:

capitol reef guides and map

Places to Stay Near Capitol Reef

Complete guide: 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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