Capitol Reef National Park {with kids}

It's time for another Traveling Tuesday post. I'm starting off with documenting some of the amazing places we visited last summer during our vacation out west. In July of 2015 we set out on a grand vacation through the southwest. We traveled for 21 days and over 6,000 miles, visiting 5 states and 9 National Parks. We explored new places and met up with old friends. Overall, it was an incredible journey and everyone learned so much. You can view all posts about our wild west adventure here.

Date of Visit: July 2015
Kids: Cole (age 8) & Kiley (age 5)
Length of Stay: 2 Days & 2 Nights
After our stay at Bryce Canyon we headed to Capitol Reef National Park. We took Historic Highway 12, which is also knows as Hell's Backbone. Highway 12 is known as one of the most scenic roads in America, and it certainly was that. But it was also one of the most terrifying roads I've ever been on. If you have a fear of heights or suffer from motion sickness, then I would not recommend it. But we survived, and on the other end of the adventure was an amazing farm-to-table restaurant called Hell's Backbone Grill. We stopped for a late breakfast/early lunch and it was just as delicious as I imagined it would be. The kids loved running around in the garden, and I loved the french toast.

Stretching their legs and enjoying the scenery.

Seriously YUM!

After our delicious brunch, we headed right over to Capitol Reef National Park. We stopped by the visitor center for Junior Ranger books and then spent a little time exploring the park. Capitol Reef has an awesome Ripple Rock Nature Center that is perfect for kids of all ages. We ended up spending quiet a bit of time there. They had interactive activities that both kids loved.

When we were done with the nature center we headed to our hotel. At this park we stayed at the Red Sands Hotel. The rooms were clean, but very small. They did have a pool, and free breakfast, so that's always nice.

We decided to get going early on our second day at Capitol Reef National Park and we headed straight for the Hickman Bridge Trail. Several different rangers had said that it was their favorite trail in the park, so that was enough of a recommendation for me. The first part of the trail was a little steep and there was very little shade. But the second part had a little more cover and flattened out.

The Park Rangers were right, this was a great trail for kids. There were tons of great rocks to climb on and lots of hidden areas to explore right on the trail. I would list this trail as moderate when done with kids. It was steep in the beginning and a little rocky, but it certainly wasn't hard. 

After our morning hike we found a nice picnic area in the park and relaxed and ate the lunch we had brought with us. There were deer running around right in the picnic area, the were everywhere in the park. The kids then went and turned in their Junior Ranger books for another badge.

Capitol Reef is rich in history and we enjoyed hiking along the petroglyphs and the old orchards. The kids picked fruit and we bought pies from the Gifford House. Overall, I would say this was the most kid friendly park we visited, they really did have something for everyone

Apples eaten right off the tree.

Highlights: The Hickman Bridge hike was my favorite part, but the kids loved the nature center. We even went back there on our second day so they could take a Junior Geology class. This park was my daughter's (age 5) favorite of all the places we visited on this trip. We also so the most amount of wildlife at this park. Hands down, this was the most kid friendly park we have ever visited.

What We Would Change: Really, I wouldn't change much about our time at Capitol Reef. We could have done another day of hiking, but it sounded like many of the other trails weren't as kid friendly so I'm not even sure that was necessary. 

Recommended Reading: I highly recommend the Foder's guide to National Parks of the West, we used it when planning our trip and it was a great resource. I liked that there were plenty of suggestions to exploring the parks with kids.

No comments: