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

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  • One can't-miss stop: the canyons of Escalante

    Escalante hiking

    Amie Fortin/Excursions of Escalante

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Have more time? State 12, a real stunner of a drive, winds from Torrey to Bryce Canyon. Here’s where to pull off.

1 hour from Torrey

Boulder: You’ve just found paradise for solitude seekers and nature lovers, with great hikes in nearby Dixie National Forest.

In town, the Anasazi State Park Museum ($4; 460 N. State 12) shows off a collection of native artifacts and ruins. The Burr Trail Outpost (Burr Trail at State 12; 435/335-7565) has maps, hiking gear, and guides.

And if you’re hungry, the food at Hell’s Backbone Grill ($$$; 20 N. State 12) is fresh from a nearby farm.

1½ hours from Torrey

Escalante: Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument is famous for slot-canyon hiking and canyoneering. Book a guide from Excursions of Escalante (from $125; 125 E. Main St).

In town, kick back on the great deck at Escalante Outfitters ($; 310 W. Main) for the best pizza and microbrews in canyon country. Spending the night? Canyons Bed & Breakfast (from $125, including breakfast) has four quiet rooms off a garden courtyard, plus melt-in-your-mouth stuffed French toast.

2½ hours from Torrey

Kodachrome Basin State Park: Given that you’re heading from Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon, you might think you don’t need any more colorful rocks.

You are wrong. Kodachrome Basin’s stone spires are so amazing, it would be a crime to be this close and not see them. $6 per vehicle; off State 12, 9 miles south of Cannonville.

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