by Jennifer Fontaine – Capitol Reef Resort has been hosting travelers from around the globe for decades on the doorstep of Capitol Reef National Park. And as good hosts do, they up their game with more creative accommodations each year.
From teepees and family cabins, to decked-out tents and authentic 19th century Conestoga Wagons, there’s a glamping experience likely to appeal to every adventurous traveler.
Situated in the Henry Mountains, just 7.6 miles from Capitol Reef National Park and 18.8 mi from Lyman Natural Arch, Capitol Reef Resort‘s phenomenal red rock views, inviting pool, and well-suited hotel rooms just weren’t enough.
Now there is a bona fide glamping compound, perfect for communing with nature and loved ones alike, where you can find amenities like yummy hot buffet breakfast served (for a surcharge) each morning between 7 am and 9:30 am, a 24-hour fitness center, and even a hot tub for soaking trail-worn toes.
Surrounded by red cliffs, deep canyons, and all the luxuries of a hotel, it’s clear to see why these family glamping sites fill up quickly. But, just in case you’re still not convinced, here are eight more reasons why Capital Reef Resort should be on your family travel bucket list.
1. The Red Canyon Views
Take in the sunset fire-side with front row views of the red sandstone hoodoos jutting out from a cloud of ponderosa pines. Sculpted by ages of water and wind erosion, these whimsical rock spires are one of Southern Utah’s most popular attractions.
2. A Conestoga Wagon Fit for Six
The covered wagons used by pioneers to traverse the west certainly were not luxurious, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy modern amenities, old-west style. These authentic covered wagons — whose history can be traced to the Conestoga River region of Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County in the mid- to late-18th century — are decked out with king size accommodations featuring fun bunk beds, air conditioning, and separate private bathrooms, so you can live out your wild west fantasies.
Pro Travel Tip: Booking.com guarantees the best prices for any type of property and no booking fees (yes, please!).
3. Cozy Up To a Llama
Experience the Capitol Reef backcountry from a unique point of view alongside your very own pack llama. Capitol Reef Resort offers llama excursions for everyone, at every level. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced adventurer, these treks allow visitors to explore archaeological artifacts and learn, up-close and personal, about the geology, flora, and fauna of this unique landscape.
4. Southwest National Park Adventure Basecamp
Due to Capitol Reef Resort’s convenient location, build time in your family vacation itinerary to take a day trip to Grand Staircase, Bryce Canyon National Park, or Zion National Park, all of which are just a few hours away. Or drive through Utah’s Scenic Byway 12, a 120-mile long designated All-American Road, where you are rewarded with views of beautiful red rock formations, vast expanses of slickrock country, the aspen-covered Boulder Mountain, and even a prehistoric Native American village.
Also, check out our southwestern National Parks road trip guide, loaded with tons of tips and tricks for the perfect road trip itinerary, which hits the 10 best national parks in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.
5. Family Friendly Capitol Reef Hikes
With the national park just a few minutes away, there is no shortage of hiking in the area. If you’re looking for flat and easy try Pioneer Register, Sunset Point, or Grand Wash. For a bit more of a challenge, head over to Hickman Bridge, the most popular hike in the park. For the adrenaline junkies, Cassidy Arch trail offers stunning views and a difficult ascent, but be aware that its steep drop offs may not be suitable for young children.
6. Ancient Petroglyphs of Capitol Reef National Park
More than 2,000 years ago the Fremont and ancestral Puebloan people inhabited this land, building pit houses and farming crops like corn, beans, and squash along the river bottoms. Their ancient art (petroglyphs) can be found throughout the park. For best viewing, look for a road sign on the left side of the road, just east of the visitor center on HWY 24. It will guide you to the parking lot where you’ll find a convenient boardwalk and telescopes to get a closer look.
7. The Artisans & Small Town Charm of Torrey, Utah
Torrey, Utah‘s main street is lined with farmers markets, art galleries, guides and outfitters, trading posts, and the historic 1914 Torrey Schoolhouse Bed and Breakfast Inn, nestled under the cover of grand old cottonwood trees. Long before the current locals, an eclectic mix of pioneer townies and red-rock-country lovers, walked the famous and infamous likes of John Wesley Powell, Butch Cassidy, Maynard Dixon, and Wallace Stegner.
Pop in to Shooting Star Cowboy Shop where Western isn’t just a style, it’s a way of life. Then, mosey on over to Cafe Diablo for rattlesnakes cakes, but don’t forget to save room for homemade confections at Castle Rock Coffee.
8. Stop By Mesa Farm Market
Just 30 minutes east of Capitol Reef Resort, you’ll find Mesa Farm Market, an oasis on the edge of a 50-acre sustainable farm, in the middle of Utah’s Colorado Plateau region. Inside you’ll be greeted by the delightful smells of fresh artisan breads and baked goods made daily in their wood-fire stone oven. For a day full of outdoor adventure, stock up on their array of fresh fruits and vegetables picked daily from their orchard and garden.
Jennifer Fontaine is the founder of Outdoor Families Magazine, publisher of MommyHiker.com, a blog to encourage outdoor activities with children, and an activist filmmaker inspiring dynamic change in the world. She lives in Southern California with her family.