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The Best Time to Visit Capitol Reef National Park in 2024

The Best Time to Visit Capitol Reef National Park in 2024

What's the best time to visit Capitol Reef National Park?

Capitol Reef National Park is a great place to visit year-round, but for the best experience with fewer crowds and pleasant weather, aim for mid-spring (March and April) or mid-fall (late October and November).

Early mornings are perfect for exploring, as the sunrise adds a magical touch to the red rocks, and you’ll encounter fewer visitors. In spring, you’ll enjoy the vibrant flowers, while autumn offers a stunning display of colorful foliage.

Utah’s stunning Capitol Reef National Park isn’t the most well-known national park in the US, but it’s worth checking out if you love nature. While it’s not the most popular park, it does get hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

If you want to be one of those visitors, but aren’t sure when to plan your visit, don’t worry — we’ve rounded up the cheapest, least busy, worst, and best times to visit Capitol Reef. Let us be your guide!

The Best Time to Visit Capitol Reef National Park

Still water surrounding rock formations in a valley during the best time to go to Capitol Reef National Park

Lukas Bischoff Photograph/Shutterstock

The best time of the year to visit the Capitol Reef National Park is mid-spring or mid-fall, and the best time of the day is early morning.

Frankly, you’ll likely enjoy Capitol Reef National Park no matter what time of year you decide to visit. The foliage in the fall, the sun in the summer, the snow in the winter, and the vegetation in the spring are all reasons to visit the park throughout the year.

However, if you want to enjoy the park to its fullest without being crowded by other visitors, we recommend planning your trip in mid-spring or mid-fall.

Specifically, March, early April, late October, and November are the best timeframes to explore the park without dealing with lots of other hikers and people. But during these weeks, you can also enjoy the mild weather, as opposed to the sweltering heat or frigid cold.

If you go in spring, you can relish the thriving flowers and trees, and if you go in autumn, you can admire the kaleidoscope of colorful foliage as the leaves change.

Now that you know the best time of year to visit, let’s talk about the ideal time of week and day to explore the park. If you want to avoid crowds weekdays are best, but no matter what weekday you go, we recommend going early.

The hours following the sunrise are majestic, as the sunlight makes the red rocks glow and the birds will be chirping their pretty songs. It’s a bonus that most visitors come later in the day, so you’ll have some peace.

As mentioned, the park is beautiful 365 days a year. But we think the optimal time to visit is early morning in March or October. So, that gives you the option to choose the slightly warmer spring season or mildly colder autumn time.

Cheapest Time to Visit Capitol Reef

Wooden walking path with railings going through the trees in Capitol Reef National Park during the best time to visit

Zack Frank/Shutterstock

The cheapest time to visit the Capitol Reef National Park is during the entrance-free days. You don’t have to pay the entrance fee if you visit on:

  • January 16: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • April 22: First day of National Park Week
  • August 4: Great American Outdoors Act anniversary
  • September 23: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11: Veterans Day

Like most national parks, Capitol Reef National Park is an affordable place to visit. The basic entry fee cost is $10, but it’s $20 if you take your car into the park. Concerning entry fees, there are no price fluctuations.

If you aren’t concerned about the entry fee but want to save money on accommodations, that’s a different story. The most affordable time to stay in the area is winter, as there are fewer tourists.

From December to March, hotels, rentals, motels, and other accommodations drop their prices and offer off-season deals. You can save as much as a few hundred dollars and avoid crowds by booking in the winter.

Least Busy Time to Visit Capitol Reef

Red rock walking path going through a valley in between the jagged cliffs in Capitol Reef National Park

Kit Leong/Shutterstock

The least busy times to explore the Capitol Reef National Park are weekdays, early mornings, late evenings, and during winter, especially January and February.

Trying to escape the hustle and bustle of your daily life by hiking through the rocks is difficult when you’re surrounded by people snapping photos, riding bikes, and making noise.

If you want to escape to Capitol Reef National Park for some peace and calm, there are off-season times you can go. So, if you’re all about a solo hike where you can escape humanity for a few hours, we have some helpful tips.


It’s not a secret that most people work 9-5 and have children in school 8-3, so one of the least busy times to go to the park is on a weekday. Daytime Mondays through Fridays is typically lowkey, so you can wander around the park without bumping into too many strangers.

Early Mornings

Despite the radiant color and energy early in the morning at this park, not many visitors venture before 10 am. If you want to go on a Saturday or Sunday without navigating around other people, you can get some quiet by going bright and early.

Ideally, you should leave your home or accommodations before the sun rises and time your arrival to coincide with the light.

If you go this early, you’ll likely be one of the very few visitors, if not the only one. You can also watch the sunrise over the rocks, which is a mesmerizing and memorable sight.

Late Evening

If you’re not an early bird but more of a night owl, you can also avoid other people by going later in the evening. The park is open 24 hours a day, so you can go in the dead of the night if you want.

However, we strongly advise against this, as it’s highly dangerous to be out in nature, alone, in the dark. But you can explore the park just before the sun sets. If you want to visit the park later in the day, we recommend going in the summer.

The sun will set later, giving you more time to enjoy the excursion, and you won’t have to worry about the temperature dropping below freezing when the sun disappears. Bask in the warm evening air and wander the park without all the hustle and commotion of families around you.


January and February are undeniably the best times to visit the park if you hate being around other guests. In January and February, just over 10,000 people visit the park each month.

From April to October, the park sees well over 100,000 visitors each month, so it’s ten times less crowded in January and February. Those winter months can be cold, dropping to temperatures below 30ºF.

So, it’s not surprising the visitor numbers taper off during this time. But if you don’t mind the cold and bundle up, you can explore the park in peace and maybe watch a picturesque snowfall.

Worst Time to Visit Capitol Reef

Two men walking with hiking poles in Capitol Reef Park during the worst time to visit, the summer


The worst times to visit Capitol Reef National Park are during May and September, July and August, December through February, and weekends afternoon.

Again, this park is a stunning place to visit any time of the year or day. But some times are super busy, and others deliver harsh weather that can make hiking miserable. Below is an explanation of the worst times to visit Capitol Reef National Park based on weather and busyness.

May and September

The worst times to visit the park in terms of other visitors are May and September. Both of these months see well over 150,000 visitors.

These months are also when many families spend time in the park, so it’s likely to be louder with giggling kids and fussy babies. If you want to avoid crowded hiking trails and parking lots, avoid May and September at all costs.


July and August are extremely hot; temperatures in the park can reach up to 91ºF. And many parts of the geological park do not offer plentiful shade from the scorching sun. The risk of dehydration and fatigue increases substantially in the middle of the Utah summer.


On the other hand, winter can super cold in the park. December, January, and February see temperatures around 20ºF and below.

Even when properly dressed and prepared for the cold weather, these low temperatures can make hiking unpleasant. Unless you’re a snow bunny, you’ll likely not enjoy the dead of winter in Capitol Reef National Park.

Weekend Afternoons

Lastly, weekend afternoons, between 11 am and 3 pm, are insanely busy with families and visitors. What better time to enjoy the beauty of Capitol Reef National Park than on a Saturday afternoon?

Unfortunately, everyone seems to have this same thought, causing the hiking trails to be crowded and the parking lot full.

So, When Should You Go to Capitol Reef National Park?

The best time of day to wander around the park is early in the morning, ideally on a weekday. The ideal time of year to enjoy Capitol Reef National Park is either March, if you want warm weather and green trees, or October, if you want crisp air and fall foliage.

However, this place is one of the most sensational national parks and is highly underappreciated. No matter when you go, you’ll be amazed by the majesty of this area. So what are you waiting for — book your trip today!