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Hi there!  Tanya here. 

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Capitol Reef - Canyon Country Blitz

Capitol Reef - Canyon Country Blitz


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Capitol Reef National Park with kids

Camping near the Fremont River near a century old fruit orchard in the middle of Capitol Reef National Park sounded idyllic.  Had someone told us we were about to pitch tents and camp primitive-style smack in the middle of a two-week long gnat hatching season, we would have skipped Capitol Reef National Park entirely.  I just asked my teenage son what the number one thing was that he remembered most about Capitol Reef, and before I could even finish my question he blurted out, "Gnats."  Our time was unforgettable to say the least. 

But I would love to see Capitol Reef again... just not in mid-June.  This gorgeous park is layered in loads of history and endless exploration. 

Things to see

Fremont Indian Petroglyphs  Don't miss the rockin' artwork from the Fremont Indians that lived here nearly 1,000 years ago.  Just 1.2 miles east from the Visitor's Center.  

Capitol Reef Scenic Drive  Hope in your set of wheels for this 8 mile gorgeous afternoon drive to and through Capitol Gorge.  On the way to the gorge, we saw Elijah Behunin's cabin and viewed Capitol Dome.  We stopped for yoga poses along the red rocks.  We continued on the unpaved, narrow, twisting road along the floor of the gorge and imagined what life was like for the pioneers who traveled this very road west in covered wagons.     

Chimney Rock  Just 3 miles west of the Visitor's Center, this monument stands out in the landscape of spires and cliffs.  

Fruita Historic District  The first family homesteaded here in 1880 and folks resided in Fruita until 1969.  Check out the blacksmith shop, fruit orchards, the Fruita Schoolhouse, and the Gifford Farmhouse.  

The Town of Torrey  Check out this historical town just 8 miles from Capitol Reef and pick up forgotten groceries at the Chuckwagon General Store.  Make a fun pit-stop for ice cream treats or juicy hamburgers at Slackers Burger Joint (open mid-March through mid-October.) 


We planned on primitive camping four nights in Capitol Reef's Fruita Campground in mid-June.  Like I said before, gnats had us for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Despite drenching ourselves in deet, we lasted 2 nights and decided to move on to Bryce.  We were told the gnats last only a week or two.  Capitol Reef is a beautiful national park, so just know before you go!  We chalked it up to great place, wrong timing.  Find modern lodging in nearby Torrey.  Read our 7 must-haves for car camping - the Stowaway2 Max Cargo Box is a must for every big camping family! 

Next time

Pack the strongest deet, just in case!  Seriously, you won't regret it.  Gnat-free we definitely would take some family friendly hikes like the Sunset Point Trail or the bit more challenging Cohab Canyon Trail.  We missed it this time, but driving to see The Waterpocket Fold sounds like a day well spent.

Our helpful tour guide for the week: Fodor's Complete Guide to the National Parks of the West.  We used this book to help plan our time in Capitol Reef.  Handy maps, family friendly suggestions.  Super helpful guidebook without being super wordy.  It actually covers 35 national parks from the western half of the United States, from the Badlands in South Dakota to Redwood National Park in California and everything in between. 

Camping near Grand Canyon's South Rim

Camping near Grand Canyon's South Rim

5 fun family hikes in Colorado Springs

5 fun family hikes in Colorado Springs