The colorful cliffs of Capitol Reef National Park are an inspiring sight, especially as you approach from the south and see them come into view. Most visitors want to spend at least one night, or even more, exploring this area of Utah. Camping options around Capitol Reef range from the campground at the national park to RV parks in the nearby town of Torrey and more remote BLM campgrounds in the area. While the Fruita campground at Capitol Reef is open year-round, many others are only open seasonally, closing for the cold winter months. The elevation of Capitol Reef National Park is in the range of 6,000 to 9,000 feet, and the nearby town of Torrey is over 6,800 feet. At these high elevations, nighttime lows are usually below freezing from November through late March. The best time to camp on Capitol Reef is late spring through fall. You can find more ideas for low season stays here.
1 Fruita-camping in Capitol Reef National Park
One of the most beautiful national park campgrounds in Southern Utah, Fruita Campground is located on the edge of an orchard and backed by dramatic red rock cliffs. Large, leafy trees dotted around the property provide shade and filtered light to the campsites, which can accommodate tents and RVs. This campground is also conveniently located at the start of the Capitol Reef scenic drive and is open year-round.
The 71 campgrounds, all of which are first-come-first-serve, include 64 multi-purpose campgrounds with no hookups and seven walk-in tent sites. The locations are large and have paved parking spaces. Amenities include restroom facilities, a nearby sewage dump and water filling station, and all sites, except for walk-ins, have a picnic table, fire pit, and grill. Walk-in sites have grills, but no fire pits. If you forgot something or need supplies, the town of Torrey is only a 15 minute drive away.
Official site: https://www.nps.gov/care/index.htm
Read also: 6 Top Rated Campgrounds in Sedona
2 Wonderland RV Park
The closest town to Capitol Reef National Park is Torrey, and the most popular RV park in Torrey is Wonderland RV Park, just 15 minutes from the Capitol Reef Visitor Center. This campground offers large pull-through sites and full hookups, paved parking next to a small patch of grass, showers, restrooms, washrooms, and plenty of trees scattered throughout the park. Wonderland also offers spaces for tents and rents camping cabins. This park is open from mid-March to early November.
Official Site: https://www.capitolreefrvpark.com/
3 Thousand Lakes RV Park
Also in Torrey, with more of a central downtown location, the Thousand Lakes RV Park offers beautiful views and similar amenities to Wonderland, though the sites here aren’t paved and the campground is a bit more rustic. The property has a swimming pool and more of a homey feel, with Western cooking dinners and freshly baked muffins available in the morning. You can also rent cabins here. This campsite is open from April 1 to the end of October.
Official Site: https://www.thousandlakesrvpark.com/
4 Sand Creek RV Park
Sand Creek RV Park is located in Torrey, not far from Thousand Lakes RV Park. From the grounds you look out to the red rocks in the distance. In the morning the light on the hills is fantastic, and it’s a wonderful place to enjoy your first cup of coffee. The park offers full hookups for RVs, separate areas for tents and tent groups, and also rents cabins. This campsite is open from March 1 to October 31.
5 Pleasant Creek Campground in Dixie National Forest
For a more nature experience, BLM campgrounds in nearby Dixie National Forest offer a great alternative to the RV parks in the summer. Three campgrounds, Pleasant Creek, Oak Creek, and Singletree are all within a short distance of each other, along Highway 12 (aka Scenic Byway 12), south of Capitol Reef. This incredible stretch of highway, from Escalante through Boulder to Capitol Reef National Park, is incredibly scenic, reaching an elevation of about 30,000 feet.
Pleasant Creek Campground, just 35 minutes from Capitol Reef National Park, off Highway 12 south of the park, is in a ponderosa pine forest with a small creek running through the grounds. This can be a good base if you also want to explore the nearby Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
At an elevation of 8,700 feet, this is a seasonal campground open from mid-May through mid-September. In winter the area is covered with snow. The campground has 16 relatively large and well-spaced sites, all of which come with a picnic table, fire pit, and grill. This campground is not suitable for RVs over 25 feet in length. Highway noise affects campers closest to the highway. Facilities consist of pit toilets.
6 Oak Creek Campground
Just down the road from Pleasant Creek Campground, off Highway 12, Oak Creek Campground is another BLM campground with a similar setting, but it’s a little further off the highway and a little more secluded. Huge ponderosa pines dominate the campground, and pine needles carpet the floor. Located slightly higher than Pleasant Creek, at 8,800 feet, this campground is also open from mid-May through mid-September. Seventeen sites can accommodate tents and RVs up to 20 feet. Amenities here are limited to pit toilets.
7 Singletree Campground, Dixie National Forest
Singletree Campground is in the same area as Oak Creek and Pleasant Creek Campgrounds, but at a slightly lower elevation (8,600 feet) and a little closer to Capitol Reef. With 27 sites for tents and RVs, this is the largest of these three campgrounds. As with the others, it offers no hookup and only pit toilets. The campsite is open from mid-May to mid-September.
8 Sunglow Campground
Just 30 minutes west of Capitol Reef, Sunglow Campground (BLM – Bureau of Land Management) offers a peaceful, off-the-beaten-path camping experience in a beautiful setting. Unlike the pine-covered alpine setting of the BLM campgrounds along Highway 12, Sunglow is set in a desert landscape. Nestled between the red rock cliffs of a dozen canyon, this campground offers extremely private sites, with pinon pines, junipers, cottonwoods, and plenty of low shrubs to block out surrounding campsites.
This seven-site campground is open year-round. Two standard sites and a group site are bookable, the rest is first come, first served. The elevation here is 7,200 feet, which means temperatures are generally cool from fall through spring. Sunglow is west of Capitol Reef National Park, about a mile down a paved road, off Highway 24, near the town of Bicknell.
9 Cowboy Homestead Guest Cabins
If you are looking for an alternative to camping but still want to keep the feeling of a camping holiday, consider renting a rustic cottage. Cowboy Homestead Guest Cabins is located less than 20 minutes from Capitol Reef National Park, off Highway 12 in a rural area. The pine interiors of the one and two bedroom cabins offer all the comforts of home, including kitchenettes, queen beds, full baths, TVs, WiFi, patios, and grills. Views across pastureland to the surrounding mountains.
Where to Stay near Capitol Reef National Park When Campgrounds Are Closed or Full
Many of the campgrounds are only open seasonally, and not all campers are prepared to brave some of the cold winter temperatures. If you can’t find a camping spot or decide you want the warmth of a hotel for a night or two, several good options are available in the nearby town of Torrey, just minutes from Capitol Reef.
- Luxe hotels: The Capitol Reef Resort, just 10 minutes from the park, offers elegant cabins and rooms with incredible views, as well as luxurious Conestoga Wagons, or if you’re up for an experience, teepees. You really can find what you’re looking for at this resort, although it may be more luxurious than you imagined. The property also offers a heated outdoor pool and hot tub, dining options and a variety of tours and adventures.
- Mid-range hotels: A popular mid-range option, Austin’s Chuckwagon Motel offers rooms and cabins and has a perfect setup for families. Conveniently located in Torrey, the property is close to restaurants and only 15 minutes from Capitol Reef. Also located in Torrey, the Red Sands Hotel offers comfortable, quiet rooms; an indoor pool; and a free breakfast. The Broken Spur Inn is another good choice, offering basic rooms with a refrigerator and microwave, but the property is closed from mid-November to March 1.
- Budget Hotels: Reasonably priced hotels are hard to come by in Torrey. The Days Inn, which offers basic rooms, an indoor heated pool, and a free continental breakfast, is usually the best choice in this category.
More great places for camping and hiking in Utah
You can find great places to camp throughout the state at any time of the year. Some of the highlights include camping around Moab, in Canyonlands and Arches National Park. To the southwest of here, camping in Zion National Park is a highlight, and nearby camping in Bryce Canyon National Park is a nice escape from the heat of summer.
Hikers looking for some of the best trails in Utah should check out our articles on the top hikes in Utah, the best hikes in Zion National Park, the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park, and hikes and hikes in Arches National Park.