Utah's secret park

It may not get the hype (or the crowds) of big-shot neighbors Bryce Canyon and Zion, but one springtime visit may just make Capitol Reef your new favorite national park
Kate Siber

With the trifecta of superstar parks Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Arches vying for the crown, the competition is fierce in southern Utah’s red rock beauty pageant.

Jostled among this lineup, Capitol Reef National Park, whose natural arches, water-carved canyons, and red rock ridges would draw hordes of oglers anywhere else, too often gets passed over. The underappreciated stunner gets less than a fifth of Zion’s annual tourist stampede.

But think of this as others’ loss and your gain―a chance to grab a peaceful spring weekend in this quiet corner of canyon country, where right now the snow has given way to desert wildflowers and summer’s heat has yet to gather.

Your home base? The unusually cool gateway town of Torrey, an artsy oasis that is, yes, in the middle of nowhere, but also just 10 miles from the park. We’ve mapped out a slam-dunk weekend―all you have to do is hit the road.

Next: 48 hours in Torrey and Capitol Reef

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