Little-known but Amazing Places to Visit in Capitol Reef National Park

Cathedral Valley

One of the most rugged and beautiful areas of Capitol Reef National Park, Cathedral Valley is home to stone monuments after which the valley is named, which rise from the barren landscape. Surprisingly enough, only about 10% of the people who visit Capitol Reef National Park end up visiting Cathedral Valley (UT). Cathedral Valley is in the north part of the park and can't be accessed via State Route 24, but it's absolutely worth the extra drive to see the stunning rock formations in this valley.

*Accessed via Hardnet Rd. and Cathedral Valley Rd.

Temple of the Sun and Moon

These impressive monuments located within Cathedral Valley in Utah are some of the more prominent formations in the park. They rise hundreds of feet from the valley floor and have been shaped by wind and rain. Their delicate sandstone constitution makes them easily eroded. For this reason, climbing is prohibited.

The north part of Capitol Reef (where Cathedral Valley is located) is rugged and remote. High clearance 4 wheel drive vehicles are often required to make it to these stone formations. Please pay close attention to weather conditions and temperatures while traveling to these monuments; rain can turn the dirt roads into mud slicks that even the best off road vehicles can't navigate. Be sure to come prepared with all necessary supplies in the event that something happens. Help could be hours or even days away depending on the season and weather.

*Accessed via Cathedral Rd. -Follow the signs and turn onto Temple of the Moon Rd.

Glass Mountain

This unique formation is located in the north part of the park and is made of selenite crystals, which is a variety of gypsum. Gypsum is commonly found in sedimentary rocks within Capitol Reef. Glass Mountain formed as a result of groundwater flowing through Sandstone. 

This water carried dissolved gypsum, which started to crystallize into what is known as a gypsum plug. The size of the crystals and the size of the deposit make this formation truly unique within the park and the region. Please remember that it's illegal to remove any rock, plant, animal or artifact from the park. However, visitors are welcome to explore the area and take in the beautiful surroundings without restriction.

*Accessed via Cathedral Rd. - Turn onto Temple of the Moon Rd. and take the first right.

Gypsum Sinkhole

 This natural feature was created in a similar manner to glass mountain, but in reverse. Groundwater dissolved a buried gypsum plug and left behind a massive crater in the earth. Over the years, the edges have collapsed, but the whole that remains is nonetheless, impressive. It is 50 feet in diameter and over 200 feet deep. Be careful not to get too close to the gypsum sinkhole. The rocks along the edge are soft, unstable, and prone to collapse. 

*Accessed via Cathedral Rd. - Turn onto Gypsum Sinkhole Rd.

Muley Twist Slot Canyon

This canyon has two major hikes divided into upper and lower Muley Twist Slot Canyon. These are longer hikes that offer greater isolation than you'll find in much of Capitol Reef National Park. There are natural bridges and beautiful views of the surrounding terrain. As the signs indicate, make sure your vehicle has 4WD and high clearance. The roads get rough and often wash out due to rain and other weather conditions.

*Accessed via State Route 24 - Heading east, take a right onto Notom Bullfrog Basin Rd. Continue south and turn right onto Burr Trail Rd. Follow signs and take the next right.

Strike Valley Overlook

At the north end of Muley Twist Canyon, visitors are rewarded with a beautiful view of the Strike Valley. The raw magnitude and power of the earth is on full display as visitors look over the valley formed by the movement of the plates beneath the ground. It's impressive just how evident those movements appear from this overlook.

*Accessed via State Route 24 - Heading east, take a right onto Notom Bullfrog Basin Rd. Continue south and turn right onto Burr Trail Rd. Follow signs and take the next right. Follow the road north to overlook.

Ready to visit Capitol Reef? Stay in our Capitol Reef camping area, which is only an hour away from the the listed valleys.