Camping in Capitol Reef: Tips, Campgrounds, & More!

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What better way to enjoy the beauty of one of the southwest’s most underrated national parks than by camping in Capitol Reef?

Capitol Reef National Park offers an array of climbing canyons and swooping valleys, all just begging to be explored. 

And why should you let yourself be limited by the daylight? Camping in Capitol Reef is the best way to explore the park truly. Whether you’re venturing out into the Utah wilderness by yourself or have a family camping trip planned, we’re here to give you all the information you need.

Why go Capitol Reef National Park Camping?

One of Utah’s Mighty Five, Capitol Reef National Park is known for having some hidden gems amidst its cliffs and canyons.

Located on the eastern side of the state, the views are unobstructed by city buildings, busy roads, and polluted skies. You have never seen a sky full of stars like this one before. 

It almost makes you want to give up your bed at home if you can see a sight like that before you go to sleep every night.

On top of that, you’ll get a premium sunrise and first dibs on all the sights in the park. You pretty much can’t go wrong with Capitol Reef National Park camping.

Blue tent lit up by a light on a rocky cliff under a starry sky.

Camping in Capitol Reef

Below, learn more about the campgrounds directly in the park!

Fruita Campground

Fruita Campground is one of those hidden gems that Capitol Reef can boast of. 

Surrounded by the historical Fruita orchard and close to the Fremont River, there are 71 campgrounds available for campers to take advantage of. Each site includes a picnic table and fire pit, generally with an above-ground grill. There aren’t any water, sewage, or electrical hookups.

Near the entrance of the campground, you can find an RV dump and a water-filling station. There are restrooms located on the site, with flush toilets and running water.

The nightly fee is $25, and open all year round. From March 1st to October 31st, reservations are required, and check-out time is 11 am. If you are a Golden Age/Senior Pass or Golden Access/Access Pass holder, this fee will be 50% off.

Fruita Campground is the only developed campground in the park, so this is an easy option for a great stay in Capitol Reef, but remember, spots fill up fast! 

Cathedral Valley Campground

If you’re looking for a little more adventure while camping in Capitol Reef, Cathedral Valley Campground is right up your alley.

Usually only accessible with a four-wheel drive vehicle, this campground is an adventurer’s dream. You’ll take the Cathedral Valley Loop Road through the Cathedral section of the park about halfway to reach the campground.

Cathedral Valley Campground has six campsites equipped with a picnic table and a fire grate. The campground has a pit toilet but no available water.

If you’re looking to delve deep into the heart of the Capitol Reef, this campground will provide you with that opportunity. This campground is open all year round, depending on the weather, and no reservations are required.

Wooden trail through a forested area.

Cedar Mesa Campground

Cedar Mesa Campground is a bit more accessible than Cathedral Valley Campground and is generally safe with a two-wheel drive vehicle. Notom-Bullfrog Road will take you right to it.

This campground is a bit smaller, with only five campsites, but with all the same amenities: a picnic table, a grate, and a pit toilet. Once again, there is no running water. 

Cedar Mesa has no fee for overnight stays and no reservations. It is open all year round, depending on the weather, like Cathedral Valley Campground.

There is a trail leading right from the campground, Red Canyon Trail, that you can take for an early morning stroll through pinyon and juniper trees into a vibrant box canyon. This campground is the perfect mix of adventure and a peaceful stay.

Camping Near Capitol Reef

Would you rather stay outside of the park? Check out these campgrounds near Capitol Reef National Park.

Oak Creek Campground

If camping near Capitol Reef National Park is more to your taste, Oak Creek Campground is one of the best choices. This small campground has nine campsites and is located 18 miles outside of Torrey, Utah. 

This beautifully quaint site is shaded by scattered trees, and the noise of the outside world is covered by the steady rush of the creek that runs through the campsite. 

There are a few other creeks and lakes in the surrounding area, so if fishing is your thing, bring your poles! Try your luck in the Utah water for a fish or two.

This campground also has a picnic table and fire pit at each site. Drinking water and pit toilets are available here as well.

The nightly fee is $16 for single sites and $32 for double sites. It is open from May through October and is first-come-first-serve. Trailers under 20 feet are welcome and can be parked, but over that length will not fit in the campsites.

Rocky landscape under a blue sky.

Thousand Lakes RV Park

Thousand Lakes RV Park offers a multitude of ways to camp near Capitol Reef. With shaded tent spaces, cabins, and a full-service RV park with 65-foot pull-through spaces, you’ll have plenty of options to choose your perfect camping experience.

Located just 6 miles from Capitol Reef, this RV park offers stunning views and easy access to the beauties of Eastern Utah. Since this park is a little off the beaten path, you’ll avoid a lot of the crowds that come with camping in Capitol Reef.

Thousand Lakes has a covered pavilion with picnic tables, a pool, a playground, a basketball court, and a satellite hook-up. If you’re looking for a place to host your next family reunion, I think you just found it.

The park is open from April 1st to October 25th and is a family business, so you know you’ll have a great stay.

Sunglow Campground

Sunglow Campground. Doesn’t the name just sound like the most peaceful place to stay?

You can find Sunglow Campground up a box canyon near Bicknell, Utah. The location gives the campsite the perfect temperature, cool air bounces off the sides of the canyon, and when the sun hits it just right, you will see that glow.

The overnight fee is $24 per night and reservations are currently open from May to July. Availability for July forward will open up on January 7th, 2023. This campground is open all year round.

Sunglow Campground has two group campsites that can accommodate up to 20 people each, along with single sites. Flush toilets and drinking water are available for use. There is also a large parking lot where trailers can be parked in.

Along with being 20 miles from Capitol Reef National Park, there are plenty of hiking, biking, and off-road vehicle trails in the area. If you decide to stay at Sunglow, you will have a variety of activities to pick from.

You can’t go wrong with Sunglow Campground for a campground near Capitol Reef.

Person holding a flashlight in front of a giant rock under a starry sky.

Capitol Reef Camping Tips

Here are some of our best tips for camping within Capitol Reef.

Check Road Conditions

Depending on the season you are planning on camping in Capitol Reef, there could be some variable weather conditions to look out for. Be sure to check those before you plan your trip, as well as you are embarking on it, especially if you are planning to stay in the Cathedral Valley and Cedar Mesa campgrounds.

Make Reservations in Advance

Although Capitol Reef does not get quite as business as its other MIghty Five siblings, things will still fill up pretty quickly. Be on top of when reservations open and make them early to make sure you get the campsite you want.

For road conditions, you can call 435-425-3791—press #1 for information and then #4 for road conditions.

Come Prepared for Many Different Activities

Capitol Reef National Park and its surrounding areas offer an abundance of different outdoor adventures for visitors. If there’s anything you want to try, go for it! Be versatile and open to new experiences, and make sure you have the gear to do it safely.

Red stone sign that says "Capitol Reef National Park" with snow capped mountains in the background.

Leave No Trace

As always, never forget to take care of these beautiful places we are so lucky to be able to explore. Clean up your trash, do your best not to disrupt the land or wildlife too much, and be safe. Leave it like it was so you can keep enjoying the park time and time again.

Hopefully, you have an idea of what kind of camping in Capitol Reef experience you are looking for now and have the right campground in mind for it. 

You won’t regret the breathtaking views during the daytime and nighttime. This will be an unforgettable experience, so enjoy it like so many others have been able to do before you!

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