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Expert Advice: Capitol Reef National Park and Torrey

Our newest post comes from the Capitol Reef National Park and Torrey area in Utah! Ali Bagley is the Director and Overall Grunt (her words!) of the Lodge at Cougar Ridge, the area’s top luxury property. We sometimes have clients who opt out of campgrounds for a hotel stay and Cougar Ridge is our go to in the area. We were able to ask Ali lots of questions and she graciously answered them and gave us her expert insight on things to do while you are in the area!

How long have you been exploring the Capitol Reef Area?

I have been going out to Torrey from the age of 10.  My Grandpa had a stone plant and Quarry out there that I would run around in when lucky enough to do a roundtrip  with Gramps! 

What are currently your favorite restaurants in Torrey?

I love Hunt & Gather for the inventive dishes with wild game.  Ordering a pork chop and taking in the amazing view at Rim Rock is also quite the experience.  If you are in a hurry, I love a burger from the Capitol Burger food truck. My overall go-to though, is to grill at Cougar Ridge as the sun is setting!

What is your favorite hike in Capitol Reef National Park?

This is a hard one! I really like most of them. I would probably choose Sulphur Creek in the summer. You do have to arrange a shuttle car for this one, but it is worth it.  You start at the top and scramble down the creek and river ending at  the Capitol Reef Visitors Center. This is a great one to do as a group, is fun navigating it with friends, and is perfect when it’s really hot outside (usually June – September.)

Favorite family friendly activity to do in the area?  

Fish Creek Cove is a great place to visit and explore. It starts at a big petroglyph panel with some really well preserved petroglyphs. After the panel you can follow the cliff to a little trail that meanders up the valley. The trail itself is flat and good for dogs and kids (just watch the cacti.) The trail ends at a nice little waterfall, which is a bonus!  

Another family favorite of mine is out at Lions Head in Teasdale (about a 15 minute drive from Torrey.) This is another flat and easy hike (about 2 miles roundtrip.) Once out at the rock formations, kids can run free, climb the redrock and wedge themselves in places. It’s really an outdoor playground! 

Two larger day trips from the area, or to visit on your way to Moab is Goblin Valley State Park.  Climbing, running, and crawling all over the “Goblins” are the main activities here. Take some time to roam here, then head out to Leprechaun Canyon (south of Hanksville.). Leprechaun Canyon isn’t very well known, but it’s right off the road and a pretty short hike to get into some beautiful and uncrowded slot canyons.

What’s the best time of year to visit Torrey and Capital Reef?

There really are some awesome things to do in the area all year long!  My personal favorite time is Fall. September & October are pretty awesome. You can see the changing leaves on Boulder mountain, which is a beautiful contrast to the redrocks and white cockscomb.  It’s also cool enough to have fires and smores… and a good look at the stars! 

Lastly, when you have a good friend of family visit you, where do you make sure they see or do?

It All! If they are here for a while, I will make sure they hit either Burr Trail or Cathedral Valley,  and grab a burger at the Burr Trail Grill in Boulder. If they don’t have a ton of time, I make sure they hike either Cassidy Arch or Hickman Bridge in the Park, go to Fish Creek Cove, and end with dinner and drinks on the Cougar Ridge deck!

Torrey and the Capital Reef area is really a hidden gem. Thanks to Ali, we can explore more like a local!

Want to visit? Tumbleweed Travel can route you through this area on our Ultimate Utah trip itinerary or create a custom trip for you and your group. Just give us a shout or fill out our contact form here