<
  • Menu

18 Great Capitol Reef National Park Free Camping and Boondocking Spots

Last updated on May 8th, 2022 at 01:53 am

 

Capitol Reef

We had been planning for a get-together with a group of my neighborhood friends. When I visited the Capitol Reef National Park during the last fall season, I had a great time with my group of friends we visited with. I could say that the visit was worth our time for various reasons. The Capitol Reef National Park offers relatively low prices for visitors. I observed that the admission was very cheap for visitors like ourselves.

The Capitol Reef National Park is one of the most beautiful parks in the country, with beautiful scenery and plenty of activities to participate in while visiting. During our visit, I ensured that we enjoyed the visit by participating in most of the activities available at the park. Anyone visiting the park can be assured of being busy for the whole time with the beautiful scenery and landscape to explore. Besides, the park does offer not only natural scenery to explore but also a rich avenue for photographic exploration.

An important part of our trip was extensive hiking activities as we followed various hiking trails with varying difficulty ratings. A combination of hiking and viewing the beautiful scenery at Capitol Reef National Park complements the distinction of my trip.

The park is quite difficult to get to with difficult terrain and conditions during various times of the year. This means that fewer people make an effort to get there, hence the quiet and more serene environment that we needed to get together. The park has a simpler landscape to explore compared to other national park road trip points. Our last visit was timed to perfection because we could view the illuminating sunlight on the bright leaves while contrasting them with the orange rock faces and the brown buildings. Overall, I would recommend the Capitol Reef National Park for people interested in hiking, viewing the scenery, photography, fruit picking, among other activities.

Other Posts About Boondocking and Hiking In Utah

21 Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Boondocking Spots
12 Free Bear Ears Monument Boondocking Locations
The Top 15 Arches National Park Free Campsites
25 Free Canyonlands National Park Campsites
18 Top Bryce Canyon National Park Free Campsites

 

Capitol Reef Free Camping and Boondocking Spots

1. Capitol Reef National Park Boondocking Locations – Oak Creek Canyon Road

Address
Torrey, Utah
GPS: 38.0888, -111.106707
Elevation: 5801′

I stumbled across this nice little site late a night after not finding any other spots along Bullfrog/Notom Road (south of Sheets Gulch). A sign that says “Oak Creek Canyon” on the west side of Notom road leads to a small dirt road that leads uphill for 2 miles or so.

2. Capitol Reef National Park Free Campsites – Cedar Mesa Campground

c

Address
Notom-Bullfrog Road
Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
GPS: 38.007356, -111.08464
Elevation: 5607′

Management – Public – National Park Service (Official)

The road in is Gravel. Cedar Mesa Campground is open year-round. There are 1-5 campsites at this location. Located within Capitol Reef National Park, this campground has 5 camp sites with picnic tables and fire pits (and grills). There is a pit toilet but no water.

3. Capitol Reef National Park Boondocking Spots – Lower Bowns Reservoir Boondock

Grover, Utah
GPS: 38.104576, -111.275765
Elevation: 7415′

Management – Public – Forest Service (USDA) (Official)

Activities:

Located adjacent to Lower Bowns Campground. The dispersed area is nothing more than a compacted dirt area w/o shade. There are vault toilets within walking distance at the campground. There were a lot of OHV in the area while we were there and numerous families enjoying the day use area on the lake.

4. Capitol Reef National Park Boondocking Locations – Round Up Flat – Dixie NF

Forest Road 180
Boulder, Utah
GPS: 38.041527, -111.323349
Elevation: 9530′

Management – Public – Forest Service (USDA) (Unofficial)

Large open area for free, dispersed camping. Dixie National Forest. We did not camp here ourselves but did see about five large rigs camped in a cluster here among the trees. You can kind of see them in the photo below. If you look on google earth, you can see a couple of campers here, too.

5. Capitol Reef National Park Free Campsites – Lower Bowns Point Fork

Address
Forest Road 554
Boulder, Utah
GPS: 38.046104, -111.333382
Elevation: 9858′

Management Public – Forest Service (USDA) (Unofficial)

The road in is Gravel. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 30′. You may stay 14 nights at Lower Bowns Point Fork.

6. Capitol Reef National Park Boondocking Spots – Wildcat Rest Area

Address
Utah
GPS: 38.108712, -111.335071
Elevation: 8615′

Management Public – Rest Area (Official)

7. Capitol Reef National Park Boondocking Locations – Grand Staircase Escalante NM – Horse Canyon

Address
Burr Trail Road
Escalante, Utah
GPS: 37.92206, -111.204335
Elevation: 5935′

Management Public – Bureau of Land Management

Free Dispersed camping in the Bureau of Land Management N/A District. No reservations. First come, first served.

8. Capitol Reef National Park Free Campsites – Wildcat Pasture

Address
Grover, Utah
GPS: 38.114167, -111.336854
Elevation: 8714′

Management Public – Forest Service (Official)

Just off Hwy 12, dirt road about 1/2 mile from hwy. 12 lots of room, restroom available at turn off and water available at Wildcat visitors center, many other dispersed sites, elevation is 8,700′ GPS 38.114167 -111.336854 is trail head for hiking.

9. Capitol Reef National Park Boondocking Spots – Boulder Mountain

Address
Grover, Utah
GPS: 38.144817, -111.329269
Elevation: 8954′

Management Public – Forest Service (USDA) (Official)

Several possible boondock sites along Hwy 12 between Grover and Boulder. This is national forest land. A nice group of 3-5 potential camp spots is located maybe 5 miles S. of Grover at about 8500 ft. elevation; look for a little visitor center turnoff on west side of hwy 12,

The road in is Dirt and 1/8 mile or less miles from a paved road. You may stay 16 Days at Boulder Mountain.

10. Capitol Reef National Park Boondocking Locations – Deer Creek Lake

Address
Boulder, Utah
GPS: 38.014376, -111.375742
Elevation: 9274′

Management Public – Forest Service (Official)

The road in is Gravel and 1/4 miles from a paved road. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 25 feet.

11. Capitol Reef National Park Free Campsites – Capitol Reef BLM Back Road

Address
Torrey, Utah
GPS: 38.25632, -111.12543
Elevation: 5059′

Management Public – Bureau of Land Management (Unofficial)

Great spot for high/medium clearance. Out of view from road and private. 3 spots

12. Capitol Reef National Park Boondocking Spots – Pleasant Creek Campsite

Address
GPS: 38.257324, -111.119687
Elevation: 5052′

Management Public – Bureau of Land Management (Official)

The road in is Dirt. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 15 feet. Nice site on BLM land just east of Capital Reef National Park. Turn south off of highway 24 onto Bullfrog-Notom Road. Just as you pass over Pleasant Creek (guardrails on road over creek) the campsite is on your right.

13. Capitol Reef National Park Boondocking Locations – Grand Staircase Escalante NM – Stud Horse Peaks

Address
Burr Trail Road
Boulder, Utah
GPS: 37.868208, -111.111686
Elevation: 6768′

Management Public – Bureau of Land Management

Free Dispersed camping in the Bureau of Land Management N/A District. No reservations. First come, first served.

14. Capitol Reef National Park Free Campsites – Fremont Granary Site

Address
Torrey, Utah
GPS: 38.27537, -111.10799
Elevation: 4882′

Management Public – National Park Service (Official)

The road in is Paved. Fremont Granary Site is open weather permitting. East of Capitol Reef East on Notom road, on the South (eastbound side) of the road. You will see a “P” parking. The sign at the kiosk says you can camp or picnics there.

15. Capitol Reef National Park Boondocking Spots – East of Capitol Reef Boondock

Address
Hanksville, Utah
GPS: 38.277878, -111.130745
Elevation: 5171′

Management Public – Bureau of Land Management (Unofficial)

The road in is Paved. You may stay 14 at East of Capitol Reef Boondock. This is a large flat spot on the top of a mesa just outside the east entrance to Capitol Reef. The view is gorgeous – 360 degrees of snow topped mountains, mesa, buttes and strange rock formations. It can be very windy especially in the evening.

16. Capitol Reef National Park Boondocking Locations – Fremont River

Address
East Hartnet Road South
Torrey, Utah
GPS: 38.275325, -111.081501
Elevation: 4810′

Management Public – Bureau of Land Management

The road in is Dirt. There are 6-15 campsites at this location. You may stay 14 days at Fish Creek Trail. A few campsites (with fire rings) just up the trail from the trailhead parking lot.

17. Capitol Reef National Park Free Campsites – Dixie National Forest Dispersed

Address
Boulder, Utah
GPS: 37.991682, -111.426425
Elevation: 7986′

Management Public – Forest Service (Unofficial)

The road in is Dirt and Less than 1 miles from a paved road. Dixie National Forest Dispersed is open When Accessible. There are 1-5 campsites at this location. You may stay 14 days at Dixie National Forest Dispersed.

18. Capitol Reef National Park Free Campsites – Fish Creek Trail

 

Address
Teasdale, Utah
GPS: 38.193922, -111.401379
Elevation: 8698′

Management Public – Forest Service (Official)

The road in is Dirt. There are 6-15 campsites at this location. You may stay 14 days at Fish Creek Trail.

Top 9 Trails to Hike at Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park Hiking Trail #1. Frying Pan Trail

#1. Frying Pan Trail Capitol Reef National Park Free Campsites

Length: 8.5 mi
Elevation gain: 2,618 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Nature trips, Rock climbing, Walking, Views, Wildflowers, Fee, No dogs

Capitol Reef National Park Hiking Trail #2. Cassidy Arch Trail

2. Cassidy Arch Trail Capitol Reef National Park Free Campsites

We connected with the Cassidy arch trail from the first hike. I would say this hike was listed as strenuous for justifiable reasons. We chose it because we wanted a challenge and adventure. We had a gain of over 650 feet and hiked over 3 miles. This was my favorite trail on the entire hike.

Length: 3.1 mi
Elevation gain: 666 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Rock climbing, Views, Rocky, Scramble, No shade, Fee, No dogs

Capitol Reef National Park Hiking Trail #3. Capitol Gorge Trail

3. Capitol Gorge Trail Capitol Reef National Park Boondocking Spots

The Capitol Gorge offered an amazing drive to the trailhead before we hiked for two miles as we saw the historic inscriptions. We tried to climb up to find the water tanks but got lost and decided to embark on another trail.

Length: 2.2 mi
Elevation gain: 396 ft
Route type: Out & back

Kid friendly, Hiking, Walking, Bird watching, River, Views, Wildlife, No shade, Historic site, Fee, No dogs

Capitol Reef National Park Hiking Trail #4. Hickman Bridge Trail

4. Hickman Bridge Trail

The Hickman Bridge was an easy trail as it was not as steep and vigorous as the Cassidy trail. We got a good view of the natural bridge, the Fremont River, and the pit house ruin.

Length: 1.7 mi
Elevation gain: 416 ft
Route type: Out & back

Kid friendly, Hiking, Nature trips, Running, River, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, No shade, Historic site, Fee, No dogs

Capitol Reef National Park Hiking Trail #5. Grand Wash Trail

5. Grand Wash Trail Capitol Reef National Park Boondocking Spots

The Grand Wash trail was also not vigorous as we walked the stretch while talking and catching up with my friends. The scenery through the narrow canyons was also epic.

Length: 5.0 mi
Elevation gain: 341 ft
Route type: Out & back

Kid friendly, Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Views, Wildlife, Fee, No dogs

Capitol Reef National Park Hiking Trail #6. Surprise Canyon Trail

6. Surprise Canyon Trail

Surprise Canyon offers a short and easy route along the Water Pocket Fold of Capitol Reef National Park. We leisurely walked around for the two miles and were back at the starting point. We did not move higher up the route and turned around when we reached the chute.

Length: 2.2 mi
Elevation gain: 423 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Nature trips, Bird watching, Views, Wildflowers, Rocky, Scramble, Fee, No dogs

Capitol Reef National Park Hiking Trail #7. Headquarters Canyon Trail

7. Headquarters Canyon Trail Vermilion Cliffs National Monument Hiking Trail

Headquarters Canyon in the Water Pocket Fold was also easy with no real obstacles and strenuous activity on the way. The trail starts with an upstream sand wash, and on its way down to the reef is a solid sandstone.

Length: 2.2 mi
Elevation gain: 406 ft
Route type: Out & back

Kid friendly, Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Bird watching, Views, Wildlife, Fee, No dogs

Capitol Reef National Park Hiking Trail #8. Chimney Rock Trail

8. Chimney Rock Trail

Chimney Rock Trail was amazing because of the challenge it posed for us. We went to the top of the rock, 300 feet above the road, and across the loop trail. We had the option to move to the northwest side of the mesa and crawl 10-miles down into Spring Canyon. We decided to take the shorter route as we did not arrange for a shuttle to take us back upstream

Even though our time was up by the end of the Chimney Rock Trail hike, we had planned to go to Brimhall Natural Bridge. The trail provides a challenge for hikers with various obstacles and challenges as they traverse the Waterpocket Fold.

Length: 3.3 mi
Elevation gain: 793 ft
Route type: Loop

Kid friendly, Hiking, Walking, Views, Wildflowers, Fee, No dogs

Capitol Reef National Park Hiking Trail #9. Burrow Wash Trail

9. Burrow Wash Trail

The Burrow Wash was supposed to be the most strenuous hike for us among the planned visits. This trail is situated in Capitol Reef National Park’ Water Pocket Fold. This trail has a series of obstacles that require wading and swimming on some occasions. These obstacles pose a physical challenge and various gear to complete the entire trail. Some parts of this trail require experience in hiking because of the technicality of the route.

Length: 7.6 mi
Elevation gain: 994 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Bird watching, Views, No shade, Fee, No dogs

History of the Capitol Reef National Park

The Capitol Reef National Park has a rich history developed over the years. The park was once called home for many people before it was converted to a national park. In the 14th century, the Fremont Indians occupied the area. These Indians scratched petroglyphs and pictographs on the rocks and land near the watercourses. One Mormon settler, Franklin Richards, established Fruita, the park headquarters at the moment.

By the early 1920s, very few families had established ownership of the area, including the Fremont River plains. They were using these plains for agricultural purposes until there were efforts to make the area a monument. Ephraim Pectol made the application to create the “Wayne Wonderland National Monument.” The monument comprised the bulk of the Capitol Reef area. Pectol influenced the feasibility studies and boundary assessment to complete the necessary bureaucracies to complete its transition to a national park.

After President Roosevelt set aside part of the reef as a national monument, there were more efforts to make the monument a national park. In late 1971, Congressional action was complete, and the Capitol Reef National Park was formally recognized. This law recognized the National Park as consisting of over 250,000 acres of land. The Capitol Reef National Park was put under the national park system, which means the federal government governs it.

Places and Things to Do and See

My time at the Capitol Reef National Park was fun and interesting because of the many places to go and activities to complete while on the tour. My friends and I had agreed to take the time we needed to go through the whole visit program and visit every place around the park.

Capitol Reef Arch Capitol Reef National Park Boondocking Locations

1. Highway 24 Scenic Drive

We started with a scenic drive on Highway 24 before we started exploring the other parts of the park. This was an eventful drive as we covered the scenic stretch, turned the road twists, and often stopped to take pictures of domes and cliffs. The views started opening up as we approached the Fruita, with historic buildings and orchards now in sight. We did this drive before paying for the entrance fee since there are no charges on merely driving on Highway 24.

2. Visit Fruits Schoolhouse

From the visitor’ center, we went to the Fruits schoolhouse, a small structure with colorful trees around it. This building holds an important place in Mormon history and is being used for education. When we got in, the schoolhouse was packed with other tourists receiving lessons from a park ranger about the history of Capitol Reef National Park.

3. Visit the Gifford House

After checking in, we went to the Gifford House. The Gifford family was the last remaining group before the area became the Capitol Reef National Park. This homestead has been maintained and currently has orchards planted in it. We reached the house in the middle of the day, and I was sure many of my friends were hungry. In the house, we bought pies, coffee, scones, and cakes. We sat outsides the homestead on picnic benches and rested ourselves while enjoying the peaceful scenery.

4. Pick Some Fresh Fruit and Visit the Fruita Barn

I had read in an online review before our trip that the Capitol Reef National Park also offers exquisite fresh fruit picking experiences. Therefore, I made sure that we picked the fruits that were ready for picking. We were aware that the fruits were available according to their seasons throughout the year. We visited during fall, so we found apples and pears ready for picking. We ate some fruits and brought some to the car when we were leaving.

The Fruita Barn was a significant stopover during the trip. The barn is unbelievably photogenic, and we took many pictures as we moved around. We were sure to include the fence, grass, and rocks in our frames.

5. The Fremont Petroglyphs

We stopped at the Fremont Petroglyphs, where we saw a huge orange face with carvings etched into the rock. I had never seen petroglyphs before, so I used this opportunity to enjoy them and took some pictures of the same.

6. Watch the Sunset from Gooseneck and Sunset Points

There was also an opportunity to watch the sunset from the Gooseneck and Sunset points. The road was very bumpy as we made our way to the top. The Gooseneck provided us a good view of the gorge, and we saw the sunset for the day before retiring to a hotel to get ready for the next day hiking.

Capitol Reef Wall Capitol Reef National Park Boondocking Locations

 


For complete photos and videos of our trip visit our photos on our page Facebook Page

You May Want to Join Our Facebook Group Boondocking Group on Facebook For More Information