What is the Best Time to Visit Capitol Reef National Park?

The best time of year to visit Capitol Reef National Park is during the spring and fall months when temperatures are mild and precipitation is low.
Written by Andrew Biro
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Updated on May 23, 2022
If you want to hike, backpack, rock-climb, or otherwise explore
Capitol Reef National Park at its best, visit during the spring and fall when temperatures are mild, and the chance of precipitation is at its lowest.
Located in the heart of Red Rock Country, Capitol Reef National Park encompasses 378 square miles of desert, canyons, domes, cliffs, and other unique geologic formations—including the 100-mile-long Waterpocket Fold, a veritable wrinkle in the surface of the earth and the park’s defining feature.
If you’re struggling to figure out when to visit Capitol Reef National Park, don’t worry—
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The best times of year to visit Capitol Reef National Park

While it’s tempting to say that certain parts of the year are definitely better than others when it comes to visiting
Capitol Reef National Park
, it really depends on what activities you plan on doing and what you hope to get out of your trip.
If you plan on spending the majority of your time outside—either
, or
—you’ll probably want to visit during the spring and fall. But if you’re prioritizing affordability and are prepared to tackle extreme weather, visiting during the winter may be a more viable option.

Peak Season: Spring and fall

The good: Mild temperatures, more programs
The bad: More crowds, low nighttime temperatures
The weather: Spring temps range from 65℉ to 75℉ and fall from 40℉ to 65℉
Generally speaking, Capitol Reef National Park experiences peak visitor numbers during the spring and fall, specifically from April through May and October through December, when temperatures are at their mildest and precipitation is relatively low.
Visiting during these times puts you in the perfect position to participate in
outdoor activities
you wish to do, especially when it comes to
rock climbing
, and
backcountry camping
—all of which you’ll need passes for.
Spring and fall are also the ideal months for experiencing Capitol Reef National Park on
without putting the horses through extremely hot or cold temperatures.

Off-season: Winter

The good: Fewer crowds, not as expensive 
The bad: Fewer places are open, very low temperatures
The weather: Daytime averages range from 35℉ to 55℉; snow possible
Though it isn’t necessarily the worst season, the winter months—January through March—are considered the park’s off-season. If you visit during this time, you’ll experience minimal crowds and much lower lodging prices.
That said, you’ll still have to contend with low—potentially freezing—temperatures, making the winter season an inopportune time for stargazing and camping but a perfect time for seeing the park’s scenic vistas
via your car

Shoulder Season: Summer

The good: Slightly less crowded, plenty of activities
The bad: Monsoon season, high heat
The weather: Daytime averages hover between 80℉ and 90℉; frequent rainfall
Generally speaking, summer—particularly June through September—is considered the shoulder season at Capitol Reef National Park and sees a slight decrease in visitation compared to spring or fall. 
Sweltering daytime temperatures and the height of monsoon season play a large part in this, but many are still willing to put up with these drawbacks in exchange for agreeable morning and evening temperatures.
If you plan on visiting during the shoulder season, take care to stay hydrated and learn the signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke to avoid unnecessary medical emergencies.

The cheapest time to travel to Capitol Reef National Park

Due to it being the off-season, winter is usually the cheapest time to visit Capitol Reef National Park—if you plan on renting a hotel or motel room for lodging, you’ll find prices to be cheaper than during the spring, summer, and fall. Fees and passes at Capitol Reef National Park remain static year-round, meaning the cost to enter the park never gets more or less expensive.

Find the best month for your visit to Capitol Reef National Park

If you’re ready to start planning your trip to Capitol Reef National Park, check out the table below for a breakdown of what activities are best experienced during what month.
Best month to visit
Pleasant morning and daytime temperatures make April one of the best times to see Capitol Reef National Park on foot.
Rock climbing
Lower temperatures and little rain make March one of the best months for rock climbing.
Cooler temperature and infrequent precipitation make for good canyoneering conditions.
September and October
If you want to beat the crowds and still camp in nice weather, go at the start of autumn.
Horseback riding
May or November
Agreeable daytime temperatures that won’t put undue strain on the horses.
Generally speaking, October has some of the clearest skies of any month—and nighttime temperatures won't be too chilly, either.
Scenic drives
February or November
Colder temperatures and fewer people make these months the perfect time to see Capitol Reef by car.
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How to prepare to visit Capitol Reef National Park

Before embarking on your trip to Capitol Reef National Park, make sure you and your vehicle are adequately prepared by following these tips:
  • If you plan on visiting the park more than once or plan on visiting other parks on your road trip, consider purchasing an
    America the Beautiful
  • Check ahead of time that your vehicle meets all park clearance requirements
  • See to it that your vehicle’s
    is up to date and is working properly
  • Update your car insurance policy
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