Capitol Reef National Park’s Scenic Drive Could Close For Construction


  • Expand parking capacity and delineation of parking spots. This should improve safety and access while reducing the number of vehicles parked along the highway and Scenic Drive.

  • Improve drainage due to the area’s flood-prone landscape.

  • Slightly widen the road especially in tight curve areas; allowing larger vehicles to pass each other without leaving the road surface.

  • Make accessibility improvements including additional accessible parking spaces, sidewalks, and low-slope grading.

Many of the park’s parking lots were originally designed and built in the 1960s, when the park received about 160,000 visitors per year, notes the website. Currently, more than 1.2 million visitors experience Capitol Reef each year and improvements are needed for park infrastructure to accommodate the increased visitation. Parking lots are routinely overcrowded, resulting in visitors parking along adjacent roadways causing resource and safety concerns. The parking lot at Chimney Rock trailhead and Scenic Drive show signs of pavement cracking, shoulder erosion, and damage to various drainage structures.

The majority of the park will be open and accessible during this project. Visitors will still have access to the Fruita area, including the campground, Gifford House, visitor center, and trails along State Route 24.

The Chimney Rock trailhead parking area also will be improved/Kurt Repanshek file

Also, the visitor center parking lot will be partially closed in the spring or fall, and the Chimney Rock parking lot would be closed in the spring or fall. This closure would not be at the same time as the Scenic Drive closure.

The Fruita Campground will remain open with the exception of June 3-14. During this time period, the campground will be repaved and no reservations are available. Throughout this project, campers can expect truck traffic on the Scenic Drive past the campground as construction materials are transported to the work site. Campground reservations are available through recreation.gov.

The northern Cathedral Valley and southern Waterpocket districts of the park will be unaffected by this project. These remote, dirt backcountry roads do take more planning to visit and usually require a high clearance vehicle. More information on these areas can be found on the roads page.


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