Do you live in Utah or even Nevada or Colorado? Do you need a quick weekend getaway? Take a visit to Capitol Reef National Park. If you do it right, you can even do the trip in one day, however I recommend taking two days if you can go camping or stay at a nearby hotel.
Due to our busy circumstances at the time, we chose to spend one day in Capitol Reef and chose the perfect hike for a family with children. Our children were 10 and 7 at the time, and they loved the day at the park and really enjoyed the hike. There are a few different hikes to choose from at Capitol Reef National Park such as Cassidy Arch Trail, Hickman Bridge, Frying Pan Trail, Brimhall Natural Bridge, and Halls Creek Narrows just to name a few. We chose the Hickman Bridge Trail for our hike.
Hickman Bridge Trail
Hickman Bridge is a natural arch much like you’d see in Arches National Park. This hike to this arch is rated easy, so it’s perfect for children, even those that are not very physically active. It’s a beautiful and fun hike. First you hike east parallel to the road and Fremont River. Then the trail switches back to the west and then to the north as you climb higher and higher. The hike is only two miles round trip, so if you want to try other hikes or other activities in the park, you can.
The trail is mostly rock so make sure that you have good shoes with a good grip, especially if it’s wet as rock can get slippery when wet!
About 1/4 of the way into the hike you will run into a fork. One trail goes west and the other trail goes north. Taking the north trail (right) will take you to the Hickman Bridge overlook where you can see the Arch from above. The west (left) fork takes you to the arch itself. We took the west trail as we wanted to be at the arch. If you have time, do both.
Once you arrive at the Arch you can take lots of pictures. The natural rock formations and especially Hickman Bridge Arch are beautiful and make the whole trip to this park worth it.
To return, you can simply turn around and head back the way you came, or you can hike under the arch and head south to where you can see the Fremont River Overlook. There you can snap more photos, then you’ll rejoin the trail back to your car.
Other Activities in Capitol Reef
Before we did the Hike we turned down Camp Ground Road from the Visitor Center to Scenic Drive, which is a way to witness the beauty of the park from the comfort of your car. I recommend leaving Scenic Drive to take the Grand Wash Drive. I do recommend taking a 4-wheel drive car if you can since the road is dirt, however I did see people driving regular cars through it. Once you get to the end of Scenic Drive at Capitol Gorge, it’s a great place to take photos. You can drive further on Capitol Gorge where there is another hiking trail. We turned around at this point and drove to Hickman Bridge.
Gifford House Museum & Store
Be sure to stop here to buy some unusual yummy treats and to see the museum. They have picnic tables outside where you can eat your treats before heading up to your hike.
I always recommend visiting the visitor center of any national or state park that you visit. Often you can learn things there that you couldn’t find online during your initial research and sometimes the guides will give you advice on what you should really see. Be open-minded with what they tell you, they know the park like the back of their own hand.
Where to Eat
After a fun day of driving and hiking, we were hungry. Thankfully there are many places to eat just outside the park. We chose to eat at the Red Cliff Restaurant, which is just off the main road in the small town of Torrey, Utah. They serve typical American food such as burgers, pasta, and pizza. Our younger child ordered pizza, while the rest of us ordered burgers. Their burgers are grilled and they are very good. It was a tasty ending to a perfect day in the park.