There are many ways to create a rewarding, memorable, and educational experience at Capitol Reef National Park. Hike a trail, play pioneer games, map constellations—whatever you choose, both adults and kids can take advantage of free ranger programs to make the most of any visit.
The Capitol Reef visitor center should be your first stop. Here, you’ll have an opportunity to orient yourself and plan your day, pick up maps, explore the informational exhibits, watch the park movie, and speak with a park ranger. Enjoy free ranger-led programs such as geology and history talks, nature walks, petroglyph panel tours, and summer evening campground programs. Adults and families can check out Fun Packs which contain several self-guided activities to choose from. Then visit the Ripple Rock Nature Center, just 3/4-mile down the road from the visitor center. This family-oriented learning center has interactive displays, a Junior Geologist program, and free nature talks daily during the summer. Also be sure to visit the historic Gifford House, located about a mile south of the visitor center, to learn about pioneer history. And you won’t want to miss the delicious fresh pies baked with local fruits!
The Junior Ranger program is one of the most popular visitor experiences at Capitol Reef National Park. This free, fun, interactive program is open to kids of all ages, with age-appropriate activities for kids 8 and under, and 9 and over. Junior Rangers will pick up a booklet, then participate in seven different activities—such as interviewing a park ranger, observing waterbugs, and mapping –in order to complete the program. Upon completion, Junior Rangers earn a certificate and a plastic badge. Patches are available for purchase. Learn more.
The Junior Geologist program is held twice a week during the summer. During the 45-minute program, kids learn about Capitol Reef National Park’s colorful geologic layers, erosion, how the Waterpocket Fold was formed, and how to identify a fault line. Kids will earn a signed certificate and embroidered patch.
Family Fun Packs include fun activities and games that teach history and skills, such as learning to bird watch, reading a contour map, playing pioneer games, and identifying constellations. It’s a super fun way to keep the whole family engaged, and even fun for adults exploring on their own.
At the Ripple Rock Nature Center, kids can milk a pretend cow, identify fossils, spin wool, grind cornmeal, and play with animal puppets. The Ripple Rock Nature Center is open during the summer, and has limited hours, so check with the visitor center to make the most of your visit.
Plan a day of family learning fun at Capitol Reef National Park. You’re sure to find a fun ranger program activity for every member of the family, and best of all, it’s free with park admission! See some typical program schedules here.