Capitol Reef was late to the party, designated a National Park in 1971. Don’t overlook it on your Utah dance card. The park’s most iconic feature is the Waterpocket Fold, a “warp in the Earth’s crust,” a massive geological uplift that stretches for more than 100 miles. As you can imagine, the park’s many canyons, arches, and cliffs offer endless opportunities for hiking, rock climbing, and backcountry camping.
Capitol Reef’s human scale quietly delights. It’s steeped in the traditions of the Fremont people, who lived in the area over 1,000 years ago. They left petroglyphs and pictographs, a glimpse into their culture and way of life.
Its rich cultural heritage also extends to Mormon pioneers who settled here in the mid-1800s. The historic Fruita district has fruit-bearing orchards, deer munching on said fruit, historic buildings, and cultural exhibits. It never ceases to delight me, partly because of the relative lack of crowds. — Kim Grant