Capitol Reef Gateway Special Recreation Management Area
Guide

Introduction

Capitol Reef Gateway Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA) encompasses sections of the Fremont River, bentonite hills, and other rolling sagebrush desert areas that provide the perfect setting for primitive adventures and memorable sightseeing opportunities. This Bureau of Land Management area which lies east of Torrey, Utah, just west of Capitol Reef National Park, is bound to the north and west by paved and maintained roads. However, there are no roadways or vehicle routes in the SRMA.

No designated campgrounds are available in this SRMA. However, a developed campground and several primitive camping areas are open to guests at the contiguous Capitol Reef National Park. Tent and RV camping opportunities are offered in the National Park, but no utility hookups are provided.

A world of fun is open to visitors and campers here at Capitol Reef. Hikers can choose between the pet-friendly day hiking trails available and the no-pet backcountry trails that lead to canyons, creeks, and other remote areas. Scenic driving and auto touring adventures here are awesome, so have your high clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle handy. You’ll require permits to go canyoneering and mountaineering in this BLM park. Bicycle tours and birdwatching are other popular engagements here.

RV Rentals in Capitol Reef Gateway Special Recreation Management Area

Transportation

Driving

Capitol Reef Gateway Special Recreation Management Area lies east of Torrey, off the intersection of Utah State Route 24 and US Highway 12. If you continue north along the state route, you’ll end up at Capitol Reef National Park. Traveling south along the US Highway will take you across Fremont River to Dixie National Forest.

There are no dedicated roads that lead into the SRMA from the highway and state route, so guests visiting the BLM area will have to continue the rest of the journey on foot or on horseback. A number of footpaths and trails lead to the SRMA from both main roads that border the park to the north and west, so accessibility on foot/horseback should be easy.

Parking

As vehicles cannot make their way into this BLM area, there are no parking spaces provided for cars, RVs, or motorhomes in here. The closest parking areas are available off the main roads and at Capitol Reef National Park.

Public Transportation

There are no direct public transportation services to Capitol Reef Gateway Special Recreation Management Area. Travel and camping equipment are however available at Capitol Reef and Fishlake National Park.

Campgrounds and parking in Capitol Reef Gateway Special Recreation Management Area

Campsites in Capitol Reef Gateway Special Recreation Management Area

Reservations camping

Fruita Campground

The very first thing that welcomes you to this campground in fall are the colorful leaves and green grass that decorate its corridors. All the 71 campsites in this campground are open year-round, but can be reserved online only between March and October (peak season). During off-peak season (November to February), the campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. You’re free to bring your pets here with you, but you must keep them on a leash and clean up after them.

In terms of amenities, all the sites are equipped with picnic tables and fire rings/grills. An RV dump station and drinking water station are also provided for campers’ use. The restrooms provided have flush toilets and running water. No utility hookups are available here.

If you’ll be visiting in your RV or motorhome, ensure it’s no longer than 52 feet.

First-come first-served

Sunglow Campground

Sunglow Campground is a developed campground in Fishlake National Forest that’s surrounded by beautiful red rock scenery and open between May and September. Individual sites and a group campsite are provided here. All the single sites are only available on a first-come, first-served basis, but you can reserve the group site online.

Tent and RV camping options are available here. Amenities you’ll find here include accessible restrooms, dumpsters, potable water, and picnic tables. No utility hookups are provided in this campground. If you wish to engage in outdoor activities, feel free to enjoy hiking, biking and off-road vehicle riding nearby.

Cottonwoods and junipers offer partial shade for the campsites here. Quiet hours run from 10pm to 6am.

Pets are welcome here.

Seasonal activities in Capitol Reef Gateway Special Recreation Management Area

In-Season

Day Hiking

Day hiking opportunities abound on the footpaths within Capitol Reef Gateway SRMA, and these offer visitors the chance to explore the nooks and crannies of the park. Ensure you carry enough water with you when you’re hiking the footpaths here so you don’t get dehydrated, as no services are available.

In addition, 15 day-hiking trails are available in the Fruita area, all accessible from trailheads on Utah Highway 24. Anything from easy strolls to strenuous hikes are available here for guests to choose from, based on their skills and capabilities.

Backcountry Hiking

Determined backpackers and guests that enjoy exploring remote areas are presented plenty of hiking options in the backcountry areas in the Capitol Reef area. Some of these hiking routes take enthusiasts to narrow and twisting gorges, creeks, slot canyons, as well as viewpoints at the peak of the Waterpocket Fold.

Pets are not allowed on the backcountry trails and water is a must! You won’t find any water sources in the backcountry, particularly in the hot summer months.

Canyoneering

Visitors’ love for canyoneering, mountain climbing, and bouldering is on the rise in Capitol Reefs National Park, owing to the abundance of rock units and rugged canyons in the park. These activities often require specialized equipment and skills such as rappelling, swimming, and some technical rope work.

It’s usually recommended that guests that wish to explore the canyons do so in groups. Canyoneering permits are also required. Bouldering and mountain climbing in the park also require permits.

Off-Season

Scenic Driving

With your high clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle, you can enjoy several auto touring opportunities around this BLM SRMA. The 7.9-mile-long paved Scenic Drive in the area offers tourists and campers spectacular views of the landscapes that characterize this region. Passenger cars and RVs up to 27 feet long are suitable for this route.

Some other good routes that are open to driving tours are Cathedral Valley (a full day of exploration); Notom-Bullfrog Road and Burr Trail (allows guests to loop around and explore Capitol Reef’s geology); Hartnet Road; and South Draw Road.

Bicycling

The designated roads in Capitol Reef National Park are open to cycling by interested visitors that come along with their bicycles attached to their vehicles. One of the more popular routes between Fruita Campground and the Visitor Center even allows for electronic bikes. If you’re here primarily to enjoy bicycle tours, you may need to camp in one of the camping areas to fully explore all the routes available in the park.

Because you’ll share routes with vehicles, always wear your helmets to stay safe, and yield to dog walkers and pedestrians.

Bird Viewing

Over 230 birds have been identified in the Capitol Reef area, ranging from seasonal residents to migrants and year-round residents. If you want to get good views of these birds, visit the Fremont River trail, the Ripple Rock Nature Center area, the picnic sites, and Sulphur Creek area.

Some other habitats like desert grasslands, pinyon-juniper woodlands, and desert shrublands in the area house birds too.

Commonly sighted ones here include common raven, peregrine falcon, golden eagle, Mexican spotted owl, and rock/canyon wren.