Capitol Reef National Park is one of Utah;s lesser visited parks, sitting just east of the town of Torrey. Capitol Reef encompasses the Waterpocket Fold, a warp in the earth's crust that is 65 million years old. It is the largest exposed monocline in North America. In this fold, newer and older layers of earth folded over each other in an S-shape. This warp, probably caused by the same colliding continental plates that created the Rocky Mountains, has weathered and eroded over millennia to expose layers of rock and fossils. The park is filled with brilliantly colored sandstone cliffs, gleaming white domes, and contrasting layers of stone and earth. The Fremont River flows through the park providing excellent riparian habitat and making it a very good migrant trap in the middle of the desert. The best part--admission is free unlike the other national parks in Utah!
The picnic area near the park headquarters is a great place to start birding here, with huge Cottonwoods and ample habitat for songbirds. From May into early June and August through October this migrant hotspot could turn up just about anything as well. Pick a patch of trees anywhere in the park and you will find birds. Some of the specialty species found here on a regular basis include INDIGO BUNTING, BLUE GROSBEAK, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, WILLOW FLYCATCHER, and GRAY CATBIRD. CHUKAR are often seen along the road from the visitor center to the campground. You can camp at the campground here, making it easy to access all the birding sites over a number of days!
From the intersection of Center Street and Main Street/UT-24, take UT-24 east bound 10.8 miles. Take the right turnoff to the Capitol Reef Visitor Center, picnic area, river walk, and Fruita Campground