Capitol Reef National Park Spring Activities

There are a variety of Capitol Reef National Park spring activities to help you explore this amazing park in south-central Utah.

Use this Capitol Reef National Park guide to plan an amazing itinerary full of fun spring activities! We also share tips for things to pack, where to stay and more!

Capitol Reef Spring Activities + packing list

Capitol Reef should be at the top of your list of places to visit in Utah if you enjoy outdoor spring activities like hiking, biking, off-roading, photography, and more!

Here are some done-for-you Capitol Reef National Park itineraries:

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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!

Spring Vacation at Capitol Reef National Park

You’ll see a landscape filled with cliffs, canyons, domes, and bridges when visiting Capitol Reef National Park.

The park and campgrounds are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The Visitor Center is open daily except for major holidays. The Gifford House Store and Museum usually opens on March 14 (Pi Day). Check the website for the most updated information.

Spring Weather at Capitol Reef

Springtime at Capitol Reef varies quite a bit from month to month. When visiting Capitol Reef National Park in the spring, it’s important to pack for all types of weather because you never know when the weather will change.

It is not unusual to get snowfall in March or even April. We recommend you watch the weather and pack a winter coatwinter hat, and winter gloves when going to Capitol Reef in early spring. 

Capitol Reef National Park Spring Activities

You’ll find fun Capitol Reef National Park activities to enjoy the stunning landscape of this park in the spring!

Spring Ranger-Led Programs at Capitol Reef

A great way to learn about the park is participating in Capitol Reef Ranger-led programs. In the spring the programs include: geology talks, evening programs, and the Junior Ranger Program for kids!

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 Scenic Drive
Capitol Reef Scenic Drive

Spring Scenic Drives at Capitol Reef

The main Capitol Reef scenic drive is 7.9 miles long. Exploring the Capitol Reef scenic drive, with the spur roads, usually takes 1.5 hours.

The paved road is suitable for passenger vehicles. Since it’s not a loop road, you’ll drive back the way you came.

There are two dirt spur roads off the scenic drive: Grand Wash and Capitol Gorge. Passenger cars and RVs up to 27 feet in length are fine to drive the road.

At the end of the Grand Wash and Capitol Gorge spur roads you’ll find a trailhead to two of the most amazing Capitol Reef hikes!

In the spring, the scenic drive, Grand Wash, and Capitol Gorge roads can be closed due to snow, ice, mud, and flash floods.

We highly recommend getting the Capitol Reef GyPSy Guide Audio Tour: use the suggested itineraries in the app tour plan, or divide the commentary to create your own half, full or multi day sightseeing trips. 

Fruita Barn at Capitol Reef
Fruita Barn at Capitol Reef

Fruita Area in the Spring at Capitol Reef

The heart of Capitol Reef National Park is the Fruita District. It’s where you’ll find amazing geology, historic structures and fruit orchards. Here’s the full list of things you’ll find in the Fruita area:

Grand Wash Narrows
Grand Wash Narrows

Spring Hiking at Capitol Reef

Exploring the Capitol Reef hikes in the spring is one of the best ways to experience the park. The trailheads can be found in Fruita, along Utah Highway 24 and the Scenic Drive. 

There are easy, moderate and strenuous best day hikes in Capitol Reef National Park. Each trail is well-marked, so you never have to worry about getting lost along the way. Be sure you know where your pet can join you on the trail!

Backpacking trails at Capitol Reef include the Upper and Lower Muley Twist Canyons and Halls Creek. If you plan to overnight in the backcountry, you’ll need to get a free permit at the Visitor Center.

Sunrise at Capitol Reef National Park
Sunrise at Capitol Reef National Park

Spring Photography at Capitol Reef

The landscape is perfect for Capitol Reef National Park photography. The park has an iconic barn with an incredible backdrop, quaint wooden pioneer structures, colorful rocks walls, blooming fruit orchards, and deer roaming through the Fruita area!

Here’s a list of all the amazing places to take photos at Capitol Reef:

  • Panorama Point – sunrise and sunset
  • Sunset Point – sunrise and sunset
  • Chimney Rock
  • Gifford Homestead
  • Fruita Orchards – and the deer that frequent the area
  • Fruita Barn – and the horses!
  • Fruita Schoolhouse
  • Fremont River and petroglyphs
  • Hickman Bridge Hike
  • Scenic Drive
  • Cathedral Valley
  • Burr Trail
Fruita Campground at Capitol Reef
Fruita Campground at Capitol Reef

Spring Camping at Capitol Reef

There are a few options for Capitol Reef camping in the spring:

The Fruita Campground is adjacent to the Fremont River and surrounded by historic structures and orchards. It’s open year-round, and is the only developed campground in the park.

Campsites can be reserved from March 1 – October 31, and can be made 6 months ahead of time at From November 1 – February 28, all campsites are first come, first served.

There are two primitive campgrounds in Capitol Reef: Cathedral Valley and Cedar Mesa.

If you can’t find a campsite in the park, check out the RV parks near Capitol Reef National Park where you can camp.

Burr Trail overlook Capitol Reef
Burr Trail Overlook

Waterpocket District in the Spring at Capitol Reef

The Waterpocket District is a remote and rugged area in Capitol Reef, but it’s so amazing! There’s nothing else like it!

It’s open year-round and accessible by most passenger cars, pickups, and vans. Many of the roads are unpaved, and are often rough, sandy, and corrugated.

In the spring, road conditions can change depending on recent weather like rain or snow storms. Check the Capitol Reef weather forecast before your visit.

Spring rain (or even snow in early spring) can sometimes leave roads slick, muddy, washed out, and impassable even to the best high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicle.

We recommend the Loop-The-Fold Driving Tour to the southern part of the park. The loop is 124 miles and takes about 4-6 hours to complete.

  • Start at the visitor center and follow Highway 24 east to the Notom-Bullfrog Road.
  • Turn right on the Notom-Bullfrog Road and drive south to the Burr Trail Road junction.
  • Turn right on the Burr Trail Road and drive west to Boulder, UT.
  • Turn right (north) on Highway 12 to Torrey.
  • Turn right (east) on Hwy 24 back to the visitor center.
Temples of the Sun and Moon Cathedral Valley
Temples of the Sun and Moon Cathedral Valley

Cathedral Valley District in the Spring at Capitol Reef

Like the Waterpocket District, the Cathedral Valley District is also a remote and rugged area on the north side of Capitol Reef National Park. For travelers to reach this area safely and comfortably, high clearance four-wheel-drive vehicles are required. 

Spring road conditions can change depending on recent weather so check the weather forecast for Cathedral Valley before your visit. We recommend you talk to the Rangers before heading out to get the most updated road conditions!

The Cathedral Valley Driving Loop is about 57 miles and takes about 7 to 8 hours to complete. Another option is to drive from Highway 24 to Temple of Moon and Temple of the Sun, massive monoliths that rise from the desert floor, then return the way you came.

Some of the most interesting geological formations are found in Cathedral Valley, making it a perfect place for photography lovers. 

Check out this private Capitol Reef Tour that take you through Cathedral Valley if you don’t have a 4×4 vehicle!

milky way near Eph Hanks Tower at Capitol Reef
Milky way near Eph Hanks Tower

Spring Stargazing at Capitol Reef

Capitol Reef is home to dark night skies, and has been designated an International Dark Sky Park.

We recommend you take one night to “enjoy the park after dark”!

Check the park’s website for updated information on Capitol Reef stargazing and ranger-led astronomy programs: stargazing parties and night hikes.

We’ve found it to be a fun place to photograph the milky way!

In the spring, the Milky Way is visible at these times:

  • March – 3:00 am to 5:45 am
  • April – 1:00 am to 4:45 am
  • May 11:00 pm to 4:00 am

More Capitol Reef Spring Activities

capitol reef guides and map

Plan a Capitol Reef Vacation

Places to Stay Near Capitol Reef

get the free capitol reef national park packing lists

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