The town of Torrey is a good base for visiting this park. An alternative would be to stay in Boulder, about an hour away (see the Grand Escalante Staircase section). Cafe Diablo is the place to eat in town.
Just inside the park is the Gifford farmhouse that was originally built by Mormon settlers. There's a gift shop that sells reproductions of some original utensils and tools as well as homemade jams and ice cream and fresh baked pies.
Cathedral Valley This 58 mile off road trip circles the northern part of the park, a pretty remote area that requires 4WD to navigate.
You can rent a 4WD car for the trip at Capitol Reef Jeep Rentals.
From Panorama Point you can take a short hike to get good photos of the Goosenecks Overlook and Sunset Point.
The two mile round trip hike to Hickman Bridge, a large arch, is the most popular one int the park.
The eight mile Scenic Drive cuts through the most visited part of the park.
Factory Butte and the North Cainesville Mesa About a half hour drive outside the east entrance of Capitol Reel is a desert area that looks like something from another planet. You can take the two hour round trip hike to the top of North Cainesville Mesa for a great view of the gray ridges below. In the spring this area is covered with small purple and yellow flowers.
The nearby Skyline View Overlook is the best place in the area to catch the sunset view over the badlands.
About an hour’s drive east takes you to Goblin Valley, a State Park with strange mushroom shaped rocks scattered all over the landscape.