Capitol Reef National Park contains nearly a quarter million acres in Utah's slickrock country. The park protects a huge geologic feature, the Waterpocket Fold, a nearly 100-mile long warp in the Earth's crust. A diverse landscape with 19 different rock layers and elevations ranging from 3,880 ft (1183 m) to 8,960 ft (2731 m), supports a diverse array of plant and animal life, big and small. Biological soil crust is on the smaller side, containing a tiny ecosystem of cyanobacteria, fungi, lichen, moss and algae. These lumpy black crusts growing on undisturbed ground protect sandy desert soils from erosion. When visiting the park, stay on trail so as not to "bust the crust."
The Waterpocket Fold has been a formidable obstacle for travelers and explorers. The 100-mile stretch of cliffs and canyons limited settlement and the area remains remote by today's standards. A lack of nearby cities has preserved the clear dark skies overhead. Capitol Reef has some of the darkest night skies in the country, and was designated an International Dark Sky Park in 2015. As part of this designation, park staff perform ongoing monitoring of night sky conditions throughout the park.
Additional monitoring of park resources is performed by the Northern Colorado Plateau Inventory and Monitoring Network. This organization conducts long-term inventory, monitoring, analysis, and reporting on key park resources to assess the condition of park ecosystems and develop a stronger scientific basis for stewardship and management of natural resources. At Capitol Reef, the network maintains the park species lists and monitors air quality, climate, riparian and upland systems, invasive exotic plants, land surface phenology, landscape dynamics, landbirds, and water quality.
- Area of Park: ~381 square miles (243,921 acres; 98,711 hectares)
- Highest Elevation: 8,960 ft (2731 m) in Upper Deep Creek drainage
- Lowest Elevation: 3,880 ft (1183 m), where Halls Creek drainage exits the park
- Average Warmest Month: July
- Average Coldest Month: January
- Average Wettest Month: August
- Hottest Day Recorded: 104°F (40°C), June 26, 1970 and July 5, 1985
- Coldest Day Recorded: -9°F (-23°C), January 7, 1971
- Driest Year: 1973, 3.72 in (9.45 cm)
- Wettest Year: 1957, 13.78 in (35.0 cm)
- Total Species in Park: 1,164
- Amphibians: 5
- Birds: 233
- Fish: 13
- Mammals: 58
- Reptiles: 16
- Vascular Plants: 842
- Threatened, Endangered, or Candidate Species: 8
Utah sensitive species lists are available from the Utah Division of Wildlife and State Natural Heritage Program. Statistics are drawn from IRMA.nps.gov, the Northern Colorado Plateau Network, and the Western Regional Climate Center.