Capitol Reef State Park - My New Favorite Camping Destination

I didn't grow up camping. In fact, sadly, I don't think I had ever camped (other than Girl's Camp) before coming to college. I grew up near the ocean and that was the primary way my family enjoyed the outdoors. Unfortunately, there's no ocean here in Utah.... (i wonder if i can ever get past that)

When I married Ben, I quickly came to learn that camping was a huge part of his "fun things to do" list. I wasn't necessarily opposed to it, it just didn't pop into my head as an idea of a way to spend a weekend. Over the years I've loved it and hated it and loved it again. More than anything I've learned that if you have the right equipment, know how to plan meals properly, and know the right places to go, it can be a really great experience.

I was reluctant when Ben decided we needed to kick off summer with a camping trip. Camping is really a lot of work and with the prospects of having a slightly lazy summer, I was unsure if I had the drive to pull it off. Additionally, he wanted to camp in a spot he hadn't been to since he was a kid. This made me nervous. I was assuming what ever had been lovely to him as a 10 year old, couldn't possibly be comfortable 25 years later.

Thank goodness, I was wrong.

We took the quick 3.5 hour drive to Capitol Reef State Park. The drive put us through a geographic region of Utah that I'd never seen. Small farming town after small farming town. Quaint and seemingly untouched with growth or change for decades. For a few hours I 'ooohed' and 'awwwed' over all the little diners I wanted to stop at to enjoy. Would you believe me if I told you that I didn't see a single chain restaurant in all the towns we drove through?

As we approached Capitol Reef, the landscape changes abruptly. From green(ish) rolling hills and gradual mountainsides to steep cliffs and distinct red rock. It changes like a light switch.

I've come to really love southern Utah and the red rock and had no idea that we had the same terrain so much closer to home. I absolutely fell in love with Capitol Reef.

Right as you pull into the park (there is no fee to enter this State Park, as you often see at the others here in Utah) you find a lovely Visitor's Center. Additionally, they have a Nature Center for kids with tours, free hands on activities and Jr. Ranger programs where they can earn patches and badges.

But --- then the very best part --- there is a campground that I think is the best one I've been to in Utah. Granted, it's developed, and really primarily used by people with campers and RVs, but it's adjacent to a lush historic farm plot, the Gifford Homestead, with an old farm house and barn that they've turned into a museum and small gift shop - complete with small seasonal pies made from the fruit of the local orchards in that small historic town of Fruita.

My kids LOOOOOVE to hike and climb. These options both abound at Capitol Reef State Park. I love little historic sites. These also abound. I fell in love with the Fruita Schoolhouse, just a few blocks away from our camping site.

I snapped a picture of this carved rock next to the school:

and then I found this amazing shot online while researching the area after we got home:

Lastly, just a short walk from our camp site was hiking like this:

Oh - and one more romantic thing about this camping ground? There are deer that call the park home and these deer are the most approachable deer I've ever witnessed.

So from our family to yours - we hope you have a chance to enjoy this State Park. I think it's my very favorite one so far.


  1. I have always been a fan of Capitol Reef. I am glad you got to enjoy it.

  2. "Camping" to me (growning up) was always Girls Camp. And, lets face it: VA in July=hotness and bugs. Not my favorite. But, I have since discovered the joys of camping in the fall and spring. With good equipment and good company, I really enjoy me some camping! :)

  3. Looks like a fun trip! Jealous!

  4. im going there soon, but i believe you were in a NATIONAL park, quite a difference from a state park...

    1. You're so right. I totally missed that somehow!