Cross-Country Road Trip: Drive-Through Tour of Capitol Reef National Park

Previously: Cross-Country Road Trip: Magical Moab and Canyonlands National Park

We had lingered too long in Moab.

It was one of those infectious places that lulls you into a routine of sleeping too late, wandering too far, and laughing too loudly. Our cross-country adventure was beginning to feel like an actual vacation! But there was more to see and experience, so it was time to hit the road.


We already had an appointment to raft a portion of the Colorado River out of Page, Arizona, and there were two national parks to see along the way. So, reluctantly, we bid farewell to magical Moab, passing once more by the entrances to Arches and Canyonlands, with promises to return.

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We were still a bit worn out after our adventuresome hikes in Canyonlands and Arches, so our time in Capitol Reef National Park was more of a drive-through experience. However, it was no less enjoyable for it.


Capitol Reef National Park in Utah

The copper-colored sandstone monuments were stunning against the sapphire blue sky, and we were in awe as we wound our way around the park’s driving tour. That’s the beauty of America’s national parks — there are so many different ways to explore and enjoy them.


Capitol Reef National Park in Utah

It cost us nothing to see Capitol Reef. With our annual National Parks Pass, the four of us had prepaid entry into all National Park Service, Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Reclamation recreation sites that charge day-use or entrance fees. At just $80 USD, it’s a terrific deal if you’re a fan of the parks like we are! And if you’re a U.S. citizen or permanent resident age 62 or over, you can purchase a lifetime pass for the same amount that’s an even better deal.


Old Road through Capitol Narrows

(photo: U.S. National Park Service Historic Photograph Collection)

Driving Capitol Reef National Park is actually a traditional way to experience the 60-mile-long preserve, which is only six miles wide. This photo from the U.S. National Park Service Historic Photograph Collection shows a driver exploring the park’s Old Narrows Road in 1935, and the sights remain largely unchanged in present day.

There is a large campground at Capitol Reef that is accessible by permit, and while you’re visiting the park, you can hike, horseback ride, and even harvest fruit from orchards that were planted by Mormon pioneers.

After enjoying a few hours in Capitol Reef, we continued south to our next destination: Bryce, Utah, and Bryce Canyon National Park. Join us on our epic American adventure!

Next up: Cross-Country Road Trip: Bryce Canyon National Park