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Capitol Reef National Park Packing List

Capitol Reef National Park Packing List

Looking for the ultimate Capitol Reef National Park Packing List? In this guide we tell you what to pack for Capitol Reef National Park as well as what to wear for hiking no matter whether you are travelling in Summer, Winter, Spring or Fall.

Capitol Reef National Park is a relatively difficult park to pack for as it has quite extreme seasons. Located in the South Central part of Utah it’s summers are long and hot while Winter the temperatures can plunge below zero.

As with any desert national park these extremes of temperatures make finding the perfect national park outfit hard.

Most visitors to Capitol Reef National Park tend to visit between the months of April and November. During the Winter (classified as December, January and February), you may find the weather too cold to enjoy the park while the Summer months are very hot. In this guide, we will tell you what to wear and what to pack for Capitol Reef during the peak and off peak season including:

  • What the weather is like in Capitol Reef month by month
  • What to wear in Capitol Reef for hiking, water activities and more and
  • other travel essentials to pack for Capitol Reef National Park.

Note: this Capitol Reef packing list is not intended as a Capitol Reef camping packing list, instead for those spending their days in the park. If you plan to camp in the national park check out this post.

Weather in Capitol Reef National Park by Season

View of Capitol Gorge in Capitol reef national park
what to pack for capitol reef national park

But before we get into what to wear and travel essentials for Capitol Reef National Park it is important to know what the weather is going to be like.

Capitol Reef National Park is located in the South Central part of Utah. This means you can expect traditional desert southwest weather of having very hot summers but cold winters. As such it can be a challenge to pack for and will change by season.

Summer in the Capitol Reef, classified as June, July and August, is when you will see the crowds and the temperatures soar as is actually in my opinion not the best time to go.

However if you are going in Summer you can expect the temperatures to range from around 7C / 44F to around 26C /78.8F with July being the hottest month to visit the park. However I find out in the desert where there is little shade it can feel warmer than that.

For this reason, we recommend heading into the park early so you can finish your hikes beyond the worst of the midday sun! For this reason, we recommend having some light layers with you that you can take off as the temperature increases. And you should only put items on your packing list that are made out of natural fabrics as these are more breathable in the heat.

It is also worth noting that from July to September is couted as Monsoon season. Although you are unlikely to see sustained rain, there can be dangerous dowpours which can lead to flash floods. Therefore if you traveling during this period it is very important to keep any eye out for any weather advisorys and follow ranger advice accordingly.

The shoulder seasons of Fall and Spring are classified as September, October and November, and March, April and May respectively. And it really depends on the month of travel as to what you can expect from the weather but generally speaking they are much cooler than in the Summer.

May and September are the warmest of the shoulder season months with the average highs being in the late teens C to mid 60s F.

While during the rest of the shoulder seasons you can expect the highs to be around 10C/c.50F and the lows to be below 0C (late 20sF to early 30sF). Therefore layers are going to be important for your packing list.

Capitol Reef in Winter on the other hand (considered as December, January and February) however experiences average highs just above 0C (late 20sF to early 30sF) and the average lows being below freezing – usually around -2C/28.4F.

Complete Capitol Reef Packing ListChecklist

This is our capitol reef packing list checklist at a glance:

  • Layers
  • T Shirts
  • Shorts
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Hiking Boots
  • Shoes – either sneakers or hiking sandals
  • Backpack
  • camera
  • binoculars
  • map
  • sun protection
  • coffee thermos and mug
  • resuable water bottle
  • food
  • first aid kit

But for more information on what to wear and what to take at specific times of year keep reading.

What to wear in Capitol Reef National Park in Summer

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Woman hiker walking away from camera on trail on Capitol Reef  National Park
Capitol Reef National Park Packing List

So now you know about the weather, we will tell you what to wear in Capitol Reef no matter the time of year you are travel before we look at Winter specifically.

It is also worth noting that while we traditionally create packing lists separated out by gender to allow for dress codes and fashion, however practicality is key to any Capitol Reefpacking list so this list is universal.

But for Capitol Reef in Summer we recommend packing:


Layers are your best friend inCapitol Reef year round. As although the temperatures get very high in the afternoon, if can feel very chilly when you are out early in the morning to try and complte your most strenuous hikes before the worst of the midday sun.

For this reason we recommend always having an outfit for Capitol Reef that contains lots of light layers.

I always travel to all National parks with a fleece as a top layer. These pack away into day packs easily but also are quick drying should you get wet while out on a hike.

T Shirts

T shirts are my favorite base layer for Capitol Reef no matter what time of year you are visiting. However for summer be sure that they are made of natural fabric to help reduce sweating.

Personally I tend to pick a t shirt with a cap sleeve instead of a tank top to reduce the risk of burning.

Shorts/ Pants

For all national parks I recommend wearing convertible walking trousers. These can be worn as full length trousers during early mornings. However by the time the sun comes up you will want to have shorts.

We also recommend having some other shorts with you such as quick dry shorts which are good for hikes in the afternoon when it can be quite rainy.

Packable Jacket

Although it is hot in summer it is still worth having a pack away jacket with you. As you won’t need this all the time in Capitol Reef be sure to pick a jacket that can be packed away really easily as most of the time rain falls in the afternoon in Capitol Reef.


The sun can be strong in Capitol Reef so we recommend having a hat with a wide brim or a baseball cap to protect your eyes.

Hiking Socks

Even though the temperatures are high, we prefer hiking boots over sandals in Capitol Reef especially if you plan to do longer hikes the park. And if you are wearing hiking boots you will also want good quality hiking socks with you which can help prevent blisters.

However if you just plan on wearking sneakers then sneaker socks may be more appropriate.

What to wear in Capitol Reef in Fall and Spring

Woman hiking near Hickman natural brudge in capitol reef national park
what to wear in capitol reef national park

All of the above work as great key peices for your national park outfit. However if you are traveling in Spring and Fall you will find the temperatures cooler. For this reason I recommend just adding more layers to your packing list.

My favorite type of top layers for hiking has to be a fleece.

Also I for March and November in particular I would switch out the short sleeve tees for longer length ones.

What to wear in Capitol Reef National Park in Winter

My what to wear in Capitol ReefNational Park in Winter actually has a lot of overlaps with the items we put on our packing list for any other time of year.

The main difference is in the thickness and amount of items you need. For instance, I still recommend bringing a jacket, however as the temperatures peak just above freezing you will want a thicker and warmer jacket with you than just a pack away one. And it being waterproof isn’t the main concern as Winter only gets around 3 days of rain in each month.

I also recommend buying fleece lined pants instead of convertible walking trousers for extra protection against the cold. And if you don’t have these or don’t want to buy new ones, I recommend wearing leggings under your walking trousers.

And if there is a particular cold snap you may want to throw some thermals onto your list too!

On top of these layers we also recommend having a hat, scarf and gloves with you for cold days in the park.

Best Shoes to wear in Capitol Reef National Park

So now you know what to wear, we turn our attention to footwear.

Hiking Shoes

Now not every national park visit will need hiking boots, however Capitol Reef is definitely a park I recommend packing hiking boots for. However just be sure to pack a lightweight pair that is breathable and good for hot weather if you are traveling in the summer.


On top of hiking boots I also recommend packing sneakers. I like to wear these in towns around the Capitol Reef such as Torrey.

Hiking Sandals

I personally like boots over sandals as they offer more protection for your feet. However if you aren’t concerned for this and want to keep your feet cool then walking sandals are a great pick. My favorite brand of walking sandals are Teva.

What to pack for Capitol Reef National Park packing list

Day pack

Any day we spend in a national park we take and pack a day pack. My favorite backpack brand is Columbia but this is a purely personal choice.

Power Bank

Days are long in the Capitol Reef and cell phone reception is sporadic at best. This combined with using your phone for photos, maps and searching for signal mean your battery will drain quickly. For this reason we recommend having a fully charged power bank with you to recharge your phone during the day.

Sun protection

The sun can be strong in Capitol Reef at any time of year, especially with the lack of shade in the park. For this reason we recommend packing a good quality sun screen with you. I usually opt for Factor 50.


It is important to protect your eyes from the Sun even in Winter, so no matter when you are visiting Capitol Reef be sure to add sunglasses to your packing list.

Reusable Water Bottle and Extra Water

We recommend always having a reusable water bottle for national parks however this is especially important if you are visiting Capitol Reef in Summer.

Coffee Thermos and Mug

Our top tip for Utah national parks is to start your day early especially in the Summer. That is because this will keep you out of the worst of the heat for your hikes and away from the crowds. However if you are like me you will want coffee to start your day. For this reason I never do a national parks road trip without packing a coffee thermos and mug so you can get your caffeine hit in the park.


Refreshment stops are limited in Capitol Reef so we recommend taking plenty of snacks into the park with you and potentially a packed lunch also.

First Aid Kit

Although no one wants to use a first aid kit on vacation, it is a good idea to pack a first aid kit with you on any national park vacation just in case especially if you plan on going on more remote hikes.


Whether this is a downloaded map on your phone or a physical one it is worth having a map with you that shows the trailheads you plan on taking.


Capitol Reef is absolutely breathtaking, in fact I think it is one of the most beautiful places in the US, so trust me when I say that you will want a camera with you.

Toilet Paper, Hand Sanitizer and a She wee

The toilets in any national park outside of the main visitor center tend to be pretty primitive. For this reason we recommend packing toilet paper, hand sanitizer and a she wee with you.

What not to pack for Capitol Reef National Park

So now you know what to pack for Capitol Reef, we will turn our attention to what not to pack.

Hickman natural brudge trail in Capitol reef national park
Capitol reef national park packing list

Synthetic Fabrics

Synthetic fabrics are not your friend in Capitol Reef National Park, especially if you are visiting in summer or the shoulder seasons. Synthetic fabrics make you sweat more and this is something you definitely do not want in summer.


Drones are classified as unmanned aircrafts and are as such prohibited from being flown in the park boundaries.

FAQs about what to pack for Capitol Reef National Park

So now you have your general Capitol Reef National Park we will answer your frequently asked questions:

What to wear for hiking in Capitol Reef National Park?

If you plan on hiking inCapitol Reef National Park we recommend packing and wearing:

  • Closed Toe Shoes such as hiking boots – much of the hikes in the park have uneven terrain and I find closed toe hiking boots are the best shoes for the trailheads here.
  • Convertible Hiking Trousers – which can be used as both shorts and trousers.
  • Hat and sunglasses – it is important to protect your skin and eyes from the sun no matter what time of year you visit the park.

On top of these you may want to also pack

  • Walking Sticks
  • Backpack
  • Plenty of Sun Protection
  • Adequate Water and Snacks

What to wear on a Utah Big 5 Road Trip?

One of the reasons we love visiting Utah is because you can visit 5 national parks on one trip. As Utah and all of the parks in Utah have similar climates you can use this as a road trip packing list for Utah

Further National Park Reading

And if you plan on visiting other national parks be sure to check out our other national park guides:

What else would you add to this list? And if you have any questions leaveve them in the comments below and we will get back to you as soon as we can.