Located 2.5 hours northeast of Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park is named for two of its prominent geological features. Take the name of a dome-like formation that resembles the US Capitol, and combine it with a massive rock wall that was likened to a barrier reef by early explorers, and voila, you have Capitol Reef. Today the 100-mile long Waterpocket Fold still presents a formidable reef-like obstacle, while Capitol Dome is one of the most recognizable park landmarks. Highway 24 bisects the park, which has a west entrance near Torrey and an east entrance 10 miles west of Caineville.
- If you have little ones in tow, be sure and stop in at the Ripple Rock Nature Center, which offers interpretive programs for children from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Activities include wool spinning, fossil identification and cornmeal grinding. Junior Ranger booklets and Family Fun Packs are also available there. Best of all, the nature center is wheelchair-accessible.
- Most visitors completely miss Panorama Point, which offers one of the best views in the park. The turnout to the viewpoint is located west of the visitor center, at milepost 77 on Highway 24; and the overlook features a comprehensive and very scenic overview of the park. And although the trail to the upper viewpoint is steep and not wheelchair-accessible, there’s level access out to the lower viewpoint, and even a great windshield view from the parking lot.
- Don’t miss the Petroglyph Boardwalk, which offers good views of the petroglyphs carved into the canyon walls along Highway 24. There’s level access to the viewing platform, which has an accessible scope trained on the canyon wall, and the boardwalk features level access, and it passes by another collection of petroglyphs believed to have been made by the Hopi and Paiute people.