what to do in capitol reef national park with kids

Tips for Visiting Capitol Reef National Park With Kids

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Are you planning a family trip to Capitol Reef National Park and wondering what to do in Capitol Reef National Park with kids? You’ve come to the right place! Capitol Reef National Park is not one of the more popular National Parks you will visit, but it’s definitely worth a stop. From amazing hikes to the scenic drive, there are lots of things to do in Capitol Reef National Park with kids. Here are the best things to see and do in Capitol Reef National Park for families.

capitol reef national park with kids

How to get to Capitol Reef National Park

If you’re going on a Utah road trip through the Mighty 5 National Parks, Capitol Reef will be the 3rd park you hit after Zion and Bryce Canyon or after Arches and Canyonlands, depending on which way you start. From Las Vegas, the drive is 5 hours. From SLC, the drive is 3 hours and 20 minutes.

Best time to visit Capitol Reef National Park

The best time to visit Capitol Reef National Park is the spring and fall, when the temperatures are mild and it’s not as crowded as the super hot summer months. We came in June and it was hot! 90s during the hottest part of the day so if you plan to do hikes, go early before the sun is too hot.

Where to stay when visiting Capitol Reef National Park

Camping in Capitol Reef National Park

There are several options for camping in Capitol Reef National Park. Fruita Campground is the only fully developed campground in Capitol Reef National Park. You need to make reservations in advance since this campground books up quickly in popular months. There are also two primitive campgrounds in more remote parts of the park if you want to be more remote.

Best family-friendly hotels near Capitol Reef National Park

If you’re looking for the best family friendly hotel near Capitol Reef National Park then look no further than the Capitol Reef Resort. You can stay in a traditional room, like we did, or if you’re up for something different you can book a teepee or Conestoga wagon for your stay.

They have fire pits on the property where you can make s’mores and they sell the ingredients in the gift shop or you can bring your own.

where to stay near capitol reef national park
Our room at the Capitol Reef Resort
teepee hotel room capitol reef
You can sleep in a teepee at the Capitol Reef resort.
sleep in a wagon capitol reef
You can sleep in a wagon at the Capitol Reef resort.

The hotel grounds are great for walking around and there’s a nice outdoor pool for your kids to enjoy.

best hotel near capitol reef national park
Capitol Reef Resort

Things to bring when visiting Capitol Reef National Park with kids

  • National Parks Journal: We bring ours on every trip so Milana can fill out the entry for each park we visit.
  • Hydration Backpack: If you’re going in the warmer months especially, make sure your kids have lots of water!
  • Hiking backpack: Osprey is our brand of choice and we love this one for day hikes.
  • Sunscreen: It’s going to most likely be sunny and hot when you visit, be sure to pack some sunscreen!
  • Sunhat: It’s hot here in the summer months! Bring a hat to keep your kids head covered.

Books and games about Capitol Reef National Park

Things to do in Capitol Reef National Park with kids

Best kid-friendly hiking trails in Capitol Reef National Park

  • Hickman Bridge Trail: This is a 2 mile hike that takes you to a natural bridge. Keep in mind that the first mile is completely uphill, sometimes on rocks and sand. It’s in full sun with little shade, so be sure to bring lots of water and sunscreen! We saw lots of kids of all ages hiking this trail so it’s totally doable and the bridge at the end is worth the hike!
  • Grand Wash Trail: While this entire trail is 5 miles long, you don’t have to do the entire thing. We only did 3.5 miles total since it was midday, 93 degrees with no shade. It’s an easy walk, flat the entire time.
  • Sulphur Creek Waterfall Hike: This 1.8 mile hike takes you along the Sulphur Creek and ends at a waterfall. We didn’t hike all the way to the waterfall, but enjoyed walking in the water since it was super hot!
kid friendly hiking trails capitol reef
Grand Wash Trail
hiking with kids capitol reef
Grand Wash Trail
kid friendly hiking capitol reef
Grand Wash Trail
best hiking trails for kids capitol reef
Hickman Bridge Trail
best hiking trails for kids capitol reef
Hickman Bridge Trail
best hiking trails for kids capitol reef
The top of the Hickman Bridge trail
best hiking trails for kids capitol reef
Hickman Bridge Trail
best hiking trails for kids capitol reef
Sulphur Creek Trail

Capitol Reef Scenic Drive

If your kids are tired or it’s too hot to be out hiking, take them on the Capitol Reef scenic drive! The paved road is 7.9 miles long one way and offers amazing views of the park. It’s one of the best things to do with kids in Capitol Reef National Park.

visiting capitol reef with kids
Capitol Reef Scenic Drive

Llama Hiking Adventure

The Capitol Reef resort offers llama adventures, where you can go on a hike alongside your very own pack llama. We chose the family-friendly one hour tour and it was great. The llamas are very well taken care of and are intended to be pack llamas, just like you may have seen all over South America if you have visited.

llama hike capitol reef
Milana’s llama was James.

Horseback Riding

If your kids like horseback riding, you can do trail rides at the Capitol Reef Resort with Wilderness Ridge Adventures. While we didn’t go on a horse ride during our trip since we opted for the llama hiking adventure instead, we did visit with the horses and they were all super friendly. I believe kids have to be 8 to ride, but call to double check.

horseback riding capitol reef national park

Junior Ranger Program in Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park has their own Junior Ranger program, just like all the other parks we have visited. Be sure to pick up an activity book for your kids at the Visitor Center so that they can complete the activities and earn their Junior Ranger badge.

capitol reef national park junior ranger program

Fruit picking at historic Pioneer Orchards

A really fun thing to do while visiting Capitol Reef National Park with kids is to go fruit picking. You can pick things like cherries, apples, peaches…to name a few. The fruit trees are in the historic city of Fruita and visitors can pick whatever they want and weigh/pay for their fruit at the pay stations. Be sure to check the National Park website to see which fruit is ready to be picked during your visit. We went in early June and nothing was ready however they anticipate fruit to be ready by late June/early July so be sure to check before you come!

capitol reef with kids fruit picking
One of the fruit orchards in the Fruita district.

Visit the Petroglyphs

Just down the road from the Visitor Center just before the Hickman Bridge trail, you’ll see a parking lot for the Petroglyph Trail. Petroglyphs are prehistoric images carved into rock. The petroglyphs here were carved by the Fremont and Ancestral Puebolan people between 600-1300 A.D. It’s a super short trail mainly with just viewing area.

 petroglyphs capitol reef
Petroglyph Trail
what to do with kids in capitol reef
Petroglyphs

Where to eat near Capitol Reef National Park with kids

Gifford House

While driving from the visitor center to the scenic drive, you will pass this historic building that sells all sorts of fruit pies. The Gifford House is a Mormon Pioneer house that has been restored and now sells things like jams, ice cream and their famous pies.

If you want a slice of pie, come early! We arrived at 1pm and got the last pie! The line looks big but moves quickly, so don’t let that deter you. We wanted the mixed berry pie after seeing the different flavors online and that happened to be the only one left. It was delicious and we ate it while sitting on the grass, overlooking the park.

what to do in capitol reef with kids
Gifford House
kid friendly restaurants capitol reef
Yummy berry pie!

We went back for more pie the next day, this time around 11 am and they were fully stocked. We tried the strawberry rhubarb this time and it was really good! Pro tip: take your pie and walk down the road to the picnic tables so you don’t have to eat on the ground. There’s a large field with lots of picnic tables in the shade.

pies at gifford house
Fully stocked at 11 am on a Sunday!
best restaurants in capitol reef
Nice, shady field for picnicking.

Capitol Burger

This is a food truck that lists their location on their Facebook each day, so be sure to follow them. I found them on Yelp and have to agree with most of the reviews-this is one of the best burgers we have ever had! I ordered the mushroom burger and Milana got the bacon cheeseburger and both were amazing. If you love burgers, check to see if they will be open during your stay.

where to eat with kids in capitol reef
Amazing burgers from Capitol Burger food truck.

Pioneer Kitchen

At the Capitol Reef Resort, you’ll find the Pioneer Kitchen which serves breakfast and dinner. I’m not really a breakfast person but Milana is so I took her here for breakfast each morning during our stay. The kids menu has your typical breakfast offerings and the kid meals are just $5.99.

Pioneer Kitchen

We hope our guide to visiting Capitol Reef National Park with kids helps you plan your trip to the park. Be sure to check out our other National Parks with kids guides as well as our entire Mighty 5 road trip itinerary to help plan your trip to the Utah Mighty 5. Want to save this to read later? Pin one of the images below!

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