Capitol Reef National Park vs. Death Valley National Park

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If you’re planning a vacation and would like a quick comparison of Capitol Reef National Park and Death Valley National Park, we’ve got you covered.

We’ll take a look at what they have to offer in terms of hiking and wildlife, plus what the best time of year to visit might be.

Let’s get started with an overview of Capitol Reef National Park.

Capitol Reef National Park Overview

Located in south-central Utah in the heart of red rock country, Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden treasure filled with cliffs, canyons, domes, and bridges in the Waterpocket Fold, a geologic monocline (a wrinkle on the earth) extending almost 100 miles.

Death Valley National Park Overview

In this below-sea-level basin, steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Yet, each extreme has a striking contrast. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life thrives in Death Valley.

Hiking At National Parks

Most national parks have some of the best hiking trails you’ll find anywhere in the US.

If you’re planning to take along your furry friend, double-check the rules before you go – as many of the parks have different rules about bringing animals along with you.

Capitol Reef National Park Hiking Trails

Capitol Reef National Park is a hiker’s paradise, offering a wide variety of trails to suit all levels of ability. For those looking for a relatively easy hike, the Capitol Gorge Trail is an excellent option. This 3-mile round-trip hike takes you through a narrow canyon with towering walls, and can be completed in a few hours. For something a bit more challenging, the Frying Pan Trail is a 9.5-mile loop that takes you up into the foothills of thepark. Along the way, you’ll enjoy stunning views of the surrounding scenery. Finally, for experienced hikers looking for a real test, the Hailstone Trail is a strenuous 16-mile trek that summits several peaks along the way. Whichever trail you choose, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience at Capitol Reef National Park.

Best Hikes At Capitol Reef National Park

The ratings below are based on user-submitted data at AllTrails.com

Hike Name Elevation Gain Difficulty Rating Type Average Rating
Fremont River Trail 124.968 3 out and back 4.5
Upper Muley Twist 412.6992 3 loop 4.5
Cohab Canyon – Cassidy Arch Trail 728.7768 3 out and back 4.5
Panorama Point 2.7432 1 out and back 4
Frying Pan Trail 797.9664 3 out and back 4.5
Grand Wash Trail via Capitol Reef Scenic Dr. 169.7736 3 out and back 4.5
Burro Wash Trail 302.9712 3 out and back 4.5
Sulphur Creek Waterfall Hike 54.864 1 out and back 4.5
Cottonwood Wash 367.8936 3 out and back 4.5
Fremont Gorge Trail 310.896 3 out and back 4.5

Hiking Overview at Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park is a hiker’s paradise, with a wide variety of trails to suit all levels of experience. For those looking for an easy hike, the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes trail is a great option. This trail is only a mile long and is mostly level, making it perfect for a leisurely stroll. For those looking for more of a challenge, the hikes to Telescope Peak or Panamint Springs are well worth the effort. Both trails are over 10 miles long and involve significant elevation gain, but the views from the summit are simply breathtaking. No matter what your level of experience, Death Valley National Park has a hiking trail that’s perfect for you.

Top 10 Hiking Trails at Death Valley National Park

Hike Name Elevation Gain Difficulty Rating Type Average Rating
Cottonwood-Marble Canyon Loop 1710.8424 7 loop 4.5
Panamint Dunes Trail 165.8112 3 loop 4.5
Ubehebe and Little Hebe Crater Trail 220.98 1 loop 4
Salt Creek Interpretive Trail 7.9248 1 loop 4
Grotto Canyon 204.8256 3 out and back 4
Darwin Falls Trail 251.7648 3 out and back 4
Fall Canyon Trail 656.844 3 out and back 4
Echo Pass and Inyo Mine OHV Loop 396.8496 3 loop 4.5
Zabriskie Point and Gower Gulch Path Loop 125.8824 3 loop 4.5
Harmony Borax Works 6.7056 1 loop 3.5

Wildlife at Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park is home to a wide variety of plant and animal life. The park’s diverse ecosystem includes desert, mountain, and river habitats, providing a home for many different species of creatures. Visitors to the park can expect to see desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, and coyotes. There are also several species of reptiles, including the Gila monster and desert tortoise. In addition to its furry and scaly residents, Capitol Reef National Park is also home to a variety of birds, includinghawks, eagles, and owls. Flowers bloom throughout the year in the park, attracting bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Capitol Reef National Park is truly a wildlife paradise!

Wildlife at Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park is home to a diverse array of plants and animals. Despite its arid climate, the park is home to more than 800 species of plants, including Joshua trees, creosote bushes, and wildflowers. The park is also home to more than 300 species of animals, including bighorn sheep, coyotes, bobcats, and desert tortoises. In addition, the park is home to a variety of reptiles, amphibians, and fish. Death Valley National Park is an ideal destination for wildlife enthusiasts of all ages.

What’s the best time to visit?

A lot of times, weather can dictate when it makes the most sense to visit a particular national park.

Plus, depending on the types of activities you’re hoping to take part in, seasonality will be a huge factor in whether those things are even available.

Capitol Reef National Park Weather Considerations

Capitol Reef National Park is located in southern Utah, and the weather there can vary greatly depending on the time of year. The summers are hot, with average highs in July and August exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the dry heat means that the temperatures are not as oppressive as they might be in other parts of the country. The winters are cool, with average lows in January and February below freezing. However, Capitol Reef National Park is a popular destination for winter sports, and the snow-covered landscape is truly breathtaking. Spring and fall are generally considered to be the best times to visit Capitol Reef National Park, as the temperatures are mild and the crowds are relatively thin. Regardless of when you visit, Capitol Reef National Park is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Death Valley National Park Weather Considerations

Death Valley National Park is one of the hottest places on Earth. Temperatures in the summer can exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and there is very little shade or relief from the heat. Death Valley is also extremely dry, with almost no rainfall for months at a time. As a result, the best time to visit Death Valley is in the winter, when temperatures are cooler and there is more chance of rain. However, even in winter, Death Valley can be dangerously hot, so always be sure to bring plenty of water and sun protection.