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Capitol Gorge - Fun Drive to a Fun, Easy Hike

Capitol Gorge Trail found in Capitol Reef National park near Torre, Utah
View from the Capitol Gorge trail of the Capitol formations that give Capitol Reef its name

At the end of the paved scenic drive in Capitol Reef National Park is a fun little drive on a dirt road to a fun, easy hike called Capitol Gorge. In normal weather, the drive is easy, passable by most vehicles, and provides stunning views as you drive into gorge.

Capitol Gorge Trailhead parking in Capitol Reef National Park
Parking lot at the Capitol Gorge trail head

Even if you don't plan to hike, just driving down and back to the trailhead is well worth the trip. On this short 2.3 mile dirt road you'll weave down this narrow gorge, getting up close views of the towering sandstone cliffs that make up this unique canyon. At the end of the road is a parking lot where you can hike the Capitol Gorge trail, or turn around and enjoy the views again on your way out.

The Capital Gorge hike continues down the canyon and narrows like a slot canyon in some parts and then opens up again to some scenic views of the Capitol Dome rock formations that give Capitol Reef its name. Along the canyon walls you can see engravings from early settlers and pioneers. Unfortunately, as is becoming to common, over eager tourist and vandals have begun carving their names into some of the walls.

The Tanks are two pothole pools filled often filled with water in Capitol Reef National Park
A sign points the way out of the canyon to The Tanks

At just under a mile you'll come across a sign to "The Tanks" which are two large sandstone potholes that are often filled with water and look a little like water tanks. While the tanks aren't anything unique, the views you get of the canyon and capitol peaks from this elevated trail are well worth the extra 0.2 mile to reach them.

If you hike to the tanks and back plan on a 2.4 mile hike round trip. This hike is nice in the summer as much of it is shaded except for when the sun is directly over head. Since parking is limited, it can be difficult to find parking during Capitol Reef's busy season.

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