capitol reef national park campgrounds

Camping in Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park is an expansive, amazing place.  When we visited, we just didn’t want to leave.  By camping in Capitol Reef National Park, you can have that dream become a reality!  What better way to enjoy this Dark Sky Park then to sleep underneath the stars?  Plus, this allows you to get a really early start on the day, beat any crowds coming to the park and appreciate the landscape in a way that you will remember forever.

capitol reef national park campgrounds

There aren’t many options for camping inside of Capitol Reef, but the camping options that do exist are amazing, particularly if you are okay being “off grid” for the night.  This guide should help you learn about the options and help you select what’s right for you!

CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK CAMPGROUNDS: OVERVIEW

Capitol Reef is second least visited National Park in Utah (ahead of Canyonlands National Park).  However, it still draws in over 1 million visitors a year.  Most of the visitors that come to the park pass through and spend only a few hours at best.

If you are looking to camp in the park, there is only one established campground.  However, there are also several dispersed campsites that are worth considering as well.

capitol reef national park campgrounds

If you are in need of camping supplies, as usual, it’s best to be sure you have everything you need ahead of pulling into the park.  There are minimal supplies once you are in the park.  If you are need of basics, then the town of Torrey, UT is a good option.  It’s 11 miles to the west of the park.  You can also get supplies in Moab, UT if you are coming from Arches or Canyonlands National Parks.

capitol reef national park itinerary

Before your trip, download our Capitol Reef National Park itinerary.  We cover all you need to know about the park, include maps, information on what to pack and what to do in the area.

CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK CAMPING – ESTABLISHED CAMPGROUNDS

capitol reef national park campgrounds map

Map of the Fruita Campground Location in Capitol Reef National Park, courtesy of the National Park Service

Fruita Campground:

  • Location: The Fruita Campground is located in the most popular part of Capitol Reef National Park, near the Visitor Center and the Gifford Barn on the Scenic Drive.
    Directions from the Capitol Reef Visitor Center to the Fruita Campground.
  • Accessible via: Vehicle.
  • Reservations: Offered early March through late October and available six months in advance. Fruita Campground Reservations.
  • Capacity: 71 sites.
  • Electricity / Water Hookups / Dump Station: No / No / Yes.
  • Toilets / Showers: Flush toilets and no showers.
  • Nearby: Just across the Scenic Drive is the Cohab Canyon Trail, which is a 3.2-mile (round-trip) hike. It has about 800 ft. of elevation gain, much of what occurs in the first 0.3 miles.   After the climb, the trail heads through a canyon on the way to an overlook of Fruita.  Also, be sure to check out the Visitor Center, just 1.2 miles north of the campground.  Finally, nearby is the Fruita Rural District.  This is right near the campground, and is what is left from the Mormon Settlement that lasted to the mid-1900’s. 
  • Additional details: This campground is generally very quiet and in a spot that is gorgeous, set amongst the walls formed by the Waterpocket Fold. You can also get baked goods nearby at the Gifford Homestead during the more popular times of year.

capitol reef national park campgrounds 

Map of Fruita Campground Capitol Reef National Park, courtesy of the National Park Service

CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK DISPERSED CAMPING

capitol reef national park campgrounds for cathedral valley map

Map of the Cathedral Valley Campground Location in Capitol Reef National Park, courtesy of the National Park Service

Cathedral Valley Campground:

  • Location: The Cathedral Valley Campground is located in the remote northern section of the park on Cathedral Valley Loop Road just west of the Upper Cathedral Valley Overlook and north of Hartnet Junction. Directions from the Capitol Reef Visitor Center to the Cathedral Valley Campground.
  • Accessible via: Vehicle with high clearance and 4x4 capability.
  • Reservations: None.
  • Capacity: 6 sites.
  • Electricity / Water Hookups / Dump Station: No / No / No.
  • Toilets / Showers: Pit toilets and no showers.
  • Nearby: The main attraction nearby is the road to get here! The Cathedral Valley Drive starts by fording the Freemont River.  The 65-mile road has several overlooks to check out.  The Cathedrals Trail (moderate, 2.4-mile round-trip) is just to the north and offers views of the Cathedrals.  You can also hit the Morrell Cabin Trail (easy, 0.4-miles round-trip) which leads to a small cowboy camp.
  • Additional details: This campground is remote and difficult to get to, but for those that make the journey you are guaranteed seclusion and a night with a view of the stars unlike no other. The sites are large and are out in the open, though you won’t likely have a problem with noise out here.  All of the sites are free of charge, and no permit is required.

cedar mesa campground map in capitol reef national park 

Map of the Cedar Mesa Campground Location in Capitol Reef National Park, courtesy of the National Park Service

Cedar Mesa Campground:

  • Location: The Cedar Mesa Campground is located far south in the park on Notom-Bulfrog Road in the Central Waterpocket District. It’s a bit over 20 miles south of the intersection with Highway 24 and will take about 75 minutes to get here from the Visitor Center.  Directions from the Capitol Reef Visitor Center to the Cedar Mesa Campground.
  • Accessible via: Vehicles with rugged tires (4x4 recommended, but not required).
  • Reservations: None.
  • Capacity: 5 sites.
  • Electricity / Water Hookups / Dump Station: No / No / No.
  • Toilets / Showers: Pit toilets and no showers.
  • Nearby: Other than the amazing drive down here, the Red Canyon Trail is a great option. It starts from the campground and is 2.7-miles, round-trip.  It has a view of the Henry Mountains and then arrives at the Red Canyon which is great to explore.
  • Additional details: This Cedar Mesa Campground is remote but not as challenging to get to as the Cathedral Valley Campground. The sites have some trees separating the sites, but they are still quite in the open.  There are views of the Waterpocket Fold in the distance.  This is a great place to stay.

CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK CAMPGROUNDS - GROUP CAMPING

Group camping is only offered at the Fruita Campground, and there is only one site.  You must reserve this in advance, and reservations open up on a rolling 12-month basis.

CAMPING NEAR CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK

Capitol Reef can fill up fast and you may find yourself without a reservation or without a place to stay for the night.  Don’t worry too much-this expansive part of Utah does have plenty of places to rest your head.  Just outside the park to the east and west are several recreation sites, and there are three established parks that are in Torrey, UT.  You can use this site for tips on where you may want to stay.

While there are usually plenty of campgrounds and campsites available in Lassen Volcanic National Park, you may find that you prefer campgrounds that are closer to civilization, have better services and facilities or have hookups for your larger RVs and campers.  Old Station, CA has several campgrounds, as well as the towns of Mineral, CA and Chester, CA.

If you are wanting to boondock or just want free camping in general, then this is a good reference for free campgrounds outside of Capitol Reef National Park.  There are plenty of sites on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management, especially if you don’t need access to water or a bathroom.  Please remember that if you do camp on this type of land to leave it better than you found it. 

FURTHER INFORMATION ON CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK FROM JUST GO TRAVEL STUDIOS

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campgrounds in capitol reef national park

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About Just Go Travel Studios

We are Amy & Pete Brahan. Very simply, we are passionate about our National Parks and Public Lands and explore them with our three kids whenever we can.

As much as we enjoy traveling, we also love sharing our knowledge and helping others create everlasting memories through our custom-made travel posters, downloadable travel itineraries and detailed blog articles.

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