Capitol Reef National Park Fees & Reservations

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park (Photo credit: Jim Liestman)

As with all of Americas National Parks, the entrance fees to Capitol Reef National Park offer very good value for money, and we’re not talking for the day here folks, we’re talking for a whole week. Just look at this;

  • Individuals entering Capitol Reef National Park either on foot or by bicycle need to pay a charge of only $3 each which is good for seven days.
  • Other private vehicles entering the park, either cars or motorcycles need to pay an entrance fee of only $5, again for the full seven days.
  • Commercial vehicles entering the park have to pay a fee commensurate to the seating capacity of their vehicle. Commercial vehicles which can carry 26 passengers or more have to pay $100, those with a seating capacity of between 7 and 25 seats need to pay $40, any commercial vehicles which carry a maximum of 6 passengers need to pay $30.

If you thought that was a bargain, well how about this!

Free Entrance Days to Capitol Reef National Park

The majority of the National Parks also have fee free days. The dates of these days do vary from year to year, but the general reasoning behind it does not, so here are the dates for the 2012 season.

  • January 14 through 16 – Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend
  • April 21 through 29 – National Park Week
  • June 9 – National Get Outdoors Day
  • September 29 – Public Lands Day
  • November 10 through 12 – Veterans Day Weekend

Just bear in mind that if you want to visit the park on any of these days to save yourself a few bucks, so will plenty of other people so although there’s always plenty of room for everybody at Capitol Reef National Park, there are naturally more people about on these days.

Capitol Reef National Park Back Country Permits

If you intend to go backpacking into the back country on your visit to Capitol Reef National Park then you’ll need to obtain a permit. You can get them from the visitor center and they don’t cost a dime.

Capitol Reef National Park Camping

Many people who visit Capitol Reef National Park want to stay for more than just a few hours, and who can blame them, there’s so much to see and do, so much to take in and enjoy it’s certainly worth hanging around for a few days at least to really feel the benefit of this “away from it all” adventure.

There are a few camping options at Capitol Reef National Park, depending on how developed, or primitive you want your camping experience to be.

Fruita Campground – is the only developed campground at Capitol Reef National Park. There are 71 sites suitable for tent and RV camping, each with its own grill and picnic table but there are no electric hook-ups or individual water and sewage facilities. There are restrooms with running water and flush toilets (no showers), plus an RV dump and water fill station.  This site is open all year round, reservations are not accepted it’s strictly a first come, first served basis and can sometimes get full up by the early afternoon during the spring and fall. Campground fees are $10 per night.

There are a few other campground rules;

  • Quiet hours between 10pm and 6am, so ssshhhh!
  • Generators are permitted between 8am – 10am and 6pm – 8pm April through September, and 8am – 10am and 5pm – 7pm October through March.
  • Maximum of 8 persons per campsite.
  • 14 day camping limit April 1 through November 30
  • 30 day camping limit December – end March
  • Do not feed the wildlife – they’ve gotta’ stay wild
  • No parking along the roadway or on the grass, only within your own designated parking space
  • Pets must be kept on a leash at all times (maximum 6 feet) and cannot be left unattended
  • Campfires are permitted only in the fire grates provided or in an above ground portable grill
  • Strictly no ground fires
  • It is not permitted to gather wood from the National Park, you can purchase campfire from the store during the summer season

Group Camping at Capitol Reef National Park

There is one group camping site at Fruita Campground, which is very popular and must be reserved in advance. The maximum number of people which can be accommodated is 40, with a maximum of 10 vehicles. The maximum length of stay is 5 days per year. Other things you need to know about group camping at Capitol Reef National Park;

  • The campsite is open from the beginning of April until October, but is not open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
  • Campground fees are $3 per person per night, with a minimum charge of $50 per night.
  • Children under the age of 5 can stay for free but are included in the head count of the group.

Primitive Camping in Capitol Reef National Park

There are a couple of primitive campsites available at the park, again run strictly on a first come, first served basis.

Cathedral Valley Campground – is, as anyone who is familiar with Capitol Reef National Park may have guessed, on the Cathedral Valley Loop Road around 36 miles from the visitor center. There are six sites at this primitive campground each with a fire grate and picnic table. You don’t have to pay to camp here and it is open all year round. There’s no water here, but there is a pit toilet.

Cedar Mesa Campground – is approximately 23 miles to the south of Utah State Hwy 24, on the Notom-Bullfrog Road. There are five sites here, each with a fire grate and picnic table and again you do not have to pay a fee. There’s no water available, but there is a pit toilet.

Both of these primitive campgrounds are open year round, although it’s wise to check out the road conditions at the visitor center (particularly in the winter time) before you plan for an overnighter.

Oh wow, what a day to travel through beautiful Capitol Reef National Park.

Backcountry Camping in Capitol Reef National Park

There’s some terrific hiking at Capitol Reef National Park, including lots of very remote areas to explore. If you plan an overnight hike with a little backcountry camping you do need to remember to get a backcountry permit from the visitor center before you go. Backcountry groups are not allowed to exceed 12 people. Here’s a few tips on how to enjoy yourself but stay safe on your backcountry camping trip;

  • Don’t forget your free backcountry permit.
  • Tell somebody where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
  • Carry topographic maps and compasses.
  • Pack it in, pack it out, leave nothing behind.
  • Fires are not permitted in the back country.
  • Camp as far away from hiking routes as you can, don’t camp within site of roads.
  • Don’t collect anything along your hike – no rocks, no plants, no animals, no artifacts . . . leave ’em!