Best Photo Spots in Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef is one of the most beautiful National Parks in Utah, and it’s a great place for photographers to capture stunning shots. You’ll find amazing photo spots in Capitol Reef National Park for sunrise, morning, sunset and night photography.

Use this Capitol Reef National Park guide that includes a list of the best photo spots, photos of each location, and tips to take the best pictures.

Capitol Reef National Park photo spots

Capitol Reef is filled with steep cliffs and canyons, sandstone domes, natural bridges, and arches. Here are some of the best photo spots to inspire any photographer!

Be sure to grab your free photography checklists to use for packing your camera gear, tips for the best settings to use, and ideas for composing your photos!

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Camera Gear for Landscape Photography

  • Tripod: take a look at these compact and lightweight travel tripods!
  • Camera Bag: protect your camera from sand and water → We use Lowepro camera backpacks for outdoor photography.
  • Neutral density filter: to compensate for variance of light you’ll need to use a neutral density filter. → Check out the Kase magnetic filters we use!
  • Camera cleaning kit: remove dust or water that WILL get on your lens. NOTE: this is not for cleaning the sensor.  
  • Memory cards: purchase name brand memory cards since you’re trusting your images to the card! → We use Lexar and Sandisk!
  • External hard drive: copy photos to a portable external hard drive ‘just in case’. 
  • Headlamp: use when taking sunrise and sunset photos!

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: Know Before You Go

Capitol Reef is located in south-central Utah where you’ll find stunning landscapes with cliffs, canyons, domes, and bridges.

This Utah National Park is found between Arches and Canyonlands and Bryce Canyon and Zion which makes it easy to add to your Utah National Park road trip itinerary if you plan to visit all five parks!

Best Time to Visit Capitol Reef

We get asked often when is the best time to visit Capitol Reef National Park? The answer really depends on the things you want to see, do, and photograph at the park. Spring and fall are the best times of year for moderate weather, but they are the busy seasons. The weather in the summer is hot and winter is cold with possible snow storms.

Capitol Reef Entrance Fee

A Capitol Reef entrance fee is charged only for the main scenic drive in the park. The self-pay entrance station is located just south of the campground. There is no entrance fee for anyone with the US National Parks pass.

The Capitol Reef Scenic Drive is 7.9 miles long. 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!

The Scenic Drive, Grand Wash, and Capitol Gorge roads can be closed due to snow, ice, mud, and flash floods.

Capitol Reef Photo Spots Map

Use this map of Capitol Reef photo spots to navigate through the park from location to location.

capitol reef photo spots map

Best Photo Spots in Capitol Reef National Park

Here’s a list of photo spots in Capitol Reef along Highway 24 we recommend plus photo tips and techniques for landscape photography!

Panorama Point at sunrise at Capitol Reef
Panorama Point at sunrise

Panorama Point Photo Spot

We LOVE Panorama Point at sunrise to capture the sun crossing the horizon. Check out our Sunrise Photography Tips so you’re ready to capture that perfect moment!

Panorama Point is also a good spot to photograph the stunning Capitol Reef landscape during the golden hour light!

Capitol Reef National Park landscape
Capitol Reef National Park landscape

You’ll find a 360 degree view from Panorama Point so take your time there capturing the landscape of this stunning park!

Sunset Point at blue hour at Capitol Reef
Sunset Point at blue hour

Sunset Point Photo Spot

At Sunset Point you won’t see the sun setting, but you’ll watch the transition from Golden Hour to Blue Hour. We like to wait until the sun sets when the scene is all in shadow to capture blue hour photos.

Capitol Reef landscape along Highway 24
Capitol Reef landscape along Highway 24

Highway 24 Photo Spot

As you drive along Highway 24, stop at the various pullouts to photograph this jaw-dropping landscape! Use the road as a Leading Line!

Fruita Barn at Capitol Reef
Fruita Barn at Capitol Reef

Fruita Area Photo Spots

The scenic drive begins at the Fruita Historic District. Here you’ll find most of the Capitol Reef services like the Visitor Center, ranger programs, restrooms, picnic areas near the river and the campground.

Gifford House
Gifford House
Fruita Schoolhouse
Fruita Schoolhouse

Fun things to photograph in Fruita:

  • Fruita barn
  • Blacksmith shop
  • Fruita schoolhouse
  • Gifford House (museum and yummy food)
  • Orchards (pick fruit in season)
Horses at Capitol Reef
Horses at Capitol Reef
Deer at Capitol Reef
Deer at Capitol Reef

The Fruita district is a great place to photograph the horses at the Gifford Barn. Deer frequent the orchards and picnic areas as well.

Grand Wash road at Capitol Reef National Park
Grand Wash road

Grand Wash Photo Spots

As the scenic drive continues beyond Fruita, Grand Wash is a spur dirt road that leads into a narrow, steep-walled canyon that is extremely vulnerable to bad weather conditions.

PAY ATTENTION to the weather because you don’t want to get caught in the narrow canyon during a flash flood!

Grand Wash slot canyon at Capitol Reef

At the end of the spur road is the parking lot for the Grand Wash hike – a fun day hike in Capitol Reef National Park. Here you’ll turn around and return the way you came back to the paved scenic drive road.

Grand Wash hiking trail at Capitol Reef
Grand Wash hiking trail

Another alternative is to park at the bottom trailhead on Highway 24 and walk
about 20-30 minutes to experience the best narrow section of Grand Wash.

Eph Hanks tower at sunset at Capitol Reef
Eph Hanks tower at sunset

Capitol Gorge Photo Spots

At the end of the scenic drive you’ll find Capitol Gorge. There’s a large parking lot with picnic tables and pit toilets here. Eph Hanks Tower seen from the parking lot is a terrific location for sunset and night photography.

This is also where the dirt road spur trail begins to take you to the Capitol Gorge hiking trail.

Capitol Gorge slot canyon hike at Capitol Reef
Capitol Gorge slot canyon

The drive down the spur road is worth it if you have the time, even if you won’t do the hike. You might consider taking the short walk into the gorge to see the “Pioneer Register”, which are carved signatures of pioneers on the canyon wall.

pioneer register at Capitol Reef
Pioneer register at Capitol Reef

Farther down the trail you’ll find the Tanks Trail, a rocky and rugged hike that climbs 100 feet in 1/4 mile. During the spring and rainy times you’ll see cool potholes full of water that are fun to photograph!

Capitol Reef tanks with water
Capitol Reef tanks with water

Keep your eye out for Big Horn Sheep on this trail too! We were lucky to spend over an hour watching a family with no one else around!

three big horn sheep at Capitol Reef
Three big horn sheep at Capitol Reef

You’ll return to the Scenic Drive the way you came.

Pleasant Creek dirt road at Capitol Reef
Pleasant Creek dirt road

Pleasant Creek Road Photo Spots

The Pleasant Creek Road begins near the Capitol Gorge parking lot. It’s an unpaved road that’s usually passable to 2WD vehicles. It follows along the west-facing cliffs for 2.8 miles before ending at Pleasant Creek.

Old building along the Pleasant Creek Road
Old building along the Pleasant Creek Road

There are remnant buildings and fences of a ranch before the end of the road. Near the creek there’s a pit toilet. Turn around and head back the way you came.

road to Temples of the Sun and Moon Cathedral Valley
Road to Temples of the Sun and Moon

Cathedral Valley Photo Spots

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. If it rains or snows, the roads can be muddy, washed out, and impassable to the best high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicle, so check at the visitor center before heading

Driving the loop takes 6-8 hours, and requires fording the Fremont River as there is no bridge. Many opt to avoid the river and drive the Caineville Wash Road as far as the Temples of the Sun, Moon and Stars then return the way they came, which can be done in a half day.

Temples of the Sun and Moon Cathedral Valley
Temples of the Sun and Moon Cathedral Valley

Sunrise, sunset and night photography are good times to capture the Temples of the Sun, Moon and Stars.

landscape in Cathedral Valley
Landscape in Cathedral Valley

Take your time to stop along the drive to photograph the spectacular geology along this scenic road!

Burr Trail dirt road
Burr Trail dirt road

Burr Trail Photo Spots

The Burr Trail is a fun scenic drive when visiting Capitol Reef. In dry weather all
vehicles can easily access this road. When it’s wet, the road may be impassable even for 4WD vehicles. Always check with rangers for current conditions!

We like to begin this drive in Boulder then loop back to Capitol Reef. There is stunning scenery all along this drive so be sure to stop and take pictures of this beautiful landscape!

Burr Trail landscape photos
Burr Trail landscape

You’ll find a terrific photo spot at the top of the switchbacks so be sure to stop and enjoy the view and take some pictures!

view from the Burr Trail overlook
View from the Burr Trail overlook

After descending the switchbacks, take the road toward Highway 24 (Capitol Reef) instead of continuing on to Bullfrog.

capitol reef guides and map

Plan a Capitol Reef Vacation

Take jaw-dropping photos at Capitol Reef

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