Capitol Reef in One Day
Pack a picnic lunch, snacks, and cold drinks to take with you, because there are no restaurants in the park. As you enter the park, look to your left for Chimney Rock; in a landscape of spires, cliffs, and knobs, this deep-red landmark is unmistakable. Start your journey at the visitor center, where you can study a three-dimensional map of the area, watch the short slide show, and browse the many books and maps related to the park. Then head for the park's scenic drive, stopping at the Fruita Historic District to see some of the sites associated with the park's Mormon history. Stop at the Gifford Farmhouse for a tour and a visit to the gift shop. That lunch you packed can be enjoyed at picnic tables on rolling green lawns lining both sides of the road between the orchard and Gifford Farmhouse.
As you continue on with your tour, check out the Fremont Indian Petroglyphs, and if you feel like some exertion, take a hike on the Hickman Bridge Trail. From the trail (or if you skip the hike, from Highway 24 about 2 miles east of the visitor center), you'll see Capitol Dome. Along this stretch of Highway 24 stop to see the old one-room Fruita Schoolhouse, the petroglyphs, and the Behunin Cabin. Next you'll have to backtrack a few miles on Highway 24 to find the Goosenecks Trail. At the same parking lot you'll find the trailhead for Sunset Point Trail; take this short hike in time to watch the setting sun hit the colorful cliffs.