Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Gorge

Capitol Gorge was part of The Blue Dugway and was the main passage through Capitol Reef until 1964 when Utah Hwy 24 was built. Turn-of-the-century travelers passed through Capitol Gorge—evidenced by the Pioneer Register—as did the Fremont people long ago. The hike begins at the trailhead and continues to the Tanks, returning the same way.

Starting at the trailhead, the walking is easy in the cobble-strewn, usually dry streambed. You will find yourself in a Navajo Sandstone walled canyon with soaring domes piercing the cobalt blue sky overhead. After a half-hour hike, the canyon floor narrows to 15 feet, while the walls loom hundreds of feet overhead. About 100 yards down canyon, you will come to a highly vandalized petroglyph panel on your left, created by the Fremont Indians. Another 1/4 mile down canyon and in the narrows of the canyon, you will meet with the Pioneer Register, a place where turn-of-the-century travelers left their mark of passage. Just past this point, you will come to the Tanks, waterpockets in the Navajo Sandstone, on your left. Along the way, notice the remnants of the old telephone lines, shown by the metal pipes anchored in the walls.

Trailhead: At the end of the Capitol Gorge Spur Road off of the Scenic Drive.

Distance: 1 mile one-way, 2 miles total round-trip, returning to your trailhead.

Note: If you are hiking in the summer, take water with you and wear a hat. And, never enter Capitol Gorge if the weather is threatening. Flash floods can and do occur and can leave you stranded in the canyon.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 24 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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