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 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 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.”
Capitol Reef Photo Spots Map
Use this map of Capitol Reef photo spots to navigate through the park from location to location.
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 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!
You’ll find a 360 degree view from Panorama Point so take your time there capturing the landscape of this stunning park!
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.
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 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.
Fun things to photograph in Fruita:
- Fruita barn
- Blacksmith shop
- Fruita schoolhouse
- Gifford House (museum and yummy food)
- Orchards (pick fruit in season)
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
You’ll return to the Scenic Drive the way you came.
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.
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.
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.
Sunrise, sunset and night photography are good times to capture the Temples of the Sun, Moon and Stars.
Take your time to stop along the drive to photograph the spectacular geology along this scenic 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!
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!
After descending the switchbacks, take the road toward Highway 24 (Capitol Reef) instead of continuing on to Bullfrog.
Plan a Capitol Reef Vacation
- Capitol Reef National Park Guide
- Capitol Reef National Park Packing List
- Best Time to Visit Capitol Reef National Park
- Things to Do in Capitol Reef National Park