Capitol Reef National Park
On the northern side of Boulder Mountain, near the northeast terminus of Utah's All-American Scenic Byway 12, is the quaint town of Torrey. For most visitors to the area, it is a primary gateway and base camp to Capitol Reef National Park. For cyclists, it has an significance as an important stage finish for the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah professional cycling stage race. Located a few rolling miles from the gate of Capitol Reef, Torrey is the perfect starting point for a ride. As part of our three-day itinerary Cycling the Road to Mighty, it's an ideal warm down on the third day, after two tougher challenges.
Start the ride heading east on Highway 24 for approximately 11 miles. The road will cut through the outskirts of the national park. At about that point, keep your eyes peeled for the national park road to your right. Before you venture directly into Capital Reef National Park, you should stop and check out the ancient petroglyphs of the Fremont Indians, with wall drawings that date back between 700–1200 CE.
Once you enter the park, you will be enveloped in the beautiful red rock and the solitude of one of the least visited National Parks in the country. Capitol Reef National Park follows the Waterpocket Fold, which is a 100-mile long “wrinkle” in the Earth’s crust. The road will dead-end approximately 8 miles into the park at the trailhead for the Golden Throne and Capitol Gorge. You can jump off your bike for some day hiking or turn back and make the 16–20 mile return to Torrey.
Who’s it For?
This is a high altitude moderate course with rolling hills. The Capitol Reef Scenic Drive hovers around 5,300 feet above sea level, with the greatest elevation gain on the return trip to Torrey, which sits at 6,800 feet.
This might be considered a light day compared to the other two and would be a good ride for the weekend warrior who is not as experienced in long miles and steep climbs. A modified version of this route may also be suitable for families or less experienced riders. There are no services on this route so prepare accordingly in regards to nutrition, hydration and equipment. The visitor’s center does not have any meal or beverage service, other than a drinking fountain. During harvest season, you can stop at the Fruita Orchard and pick a piece of fruit.
There are plenty of fun activities for the non-cyclists to enjoy as well. There are day hikes and ATV trails throughout the Capital Reef area, perfect for kids looking to explore the red rock canyons and formations. Visitors will also love the Torrey dining scene.
Parking and Fees
Depending on where you start, there is parking available in Torrey Town or various pull outs or parking areas along Highway 24.
Solo bicyclists who have not previously paid the entrance fee must pay a $7.00 entrance fee when they pass the fee station.