Nature & Science

Capitol Reef National Park protects many natural wonders, including geologic formations, unusual plants and animals, and amazing dark night skies.

A hiker standing under Hickman Natural Bridge


Learn about the geologic processes that created the Waterpocket Fold.

Large bighorn ram with curled horn stepping on black boulders with trees in background.


Discover some of the wild animals that live in Capitol Reef.

Pinkish red flowers on long green stems, with green leaves at the base.


Learn about some of Capitol Reef's plant species.

Night skies in Capitol Reef National Park

International Dark Sky Park

Discover Capitol Reef's dark night skies.

Large golden monoliths with blue sky in the background and rocks, plants, and trail in foreground.

Research in Capitol Reef

Scientists monitor many aspects of Capitol Reef, including air and water quality, invasive species, and landscape dynamics.

Small plant with three white flowers on the stem, with pale green stem and leaves, near black rock.

Species Lists

Find the species lists for plants and animals found in Capitol Reef.

Tree-toed proto-dinosaur swim smears fossilized in mud.


Learn about the fossil record in Capitol Reef.

Bumpy black crust covering ground, with a few grasses mixed in.

Biological Soil Crust

Protect fragile biological soil crusts and "don't bust the crust!"

Human hand framing large mountain lion track in the mud.

iNaturalist Capitol Reef

Check out the iNaturalist for Capitol Reef, and see plants and animals people are reporting in the park.


Capitol Reef National Park was set aside to protect a geologic feature--the Waterpocket Fold--an 87-mile long warp in the Earth's crust. Learn more about Capitol Reef's amazing geology.

Capitol Reef National Park contains nearly a quarter million acres in the slickrock country of Utah. Plant and animal life is diverse because of a variety of habitats such as pinyon-juniper, perennial streams, dry washes and rock cliffs.

Biological soil crusts--lumpy black crusts on the undisturbed ground--are literally holding the place in place! Learn more about soil crusts, and other interesting natural features and ecosystems of Capitol Reef.

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.

At Capitol Reef and over a dozen other parks, the Northern Colorado Plateau Inventory and Monitoring Network 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 monitors air quality, climate, riparian and upland systems, invasive exotic plants, land surface phenology, landscape dynamics, landbirds, and water quality. The NCPN also maintains the official species lists for the park.


Explore Biodiversity

Have you ever taken a picture of a flower, or lizard, or an unusual lichen? You can keep track of the biodiversity you see when you are in a national park, or wherever you go, with iNaturalist. Check out Capitol Reef’s iNaturalist project. Learn more about how you can help document the various life forms in our national parks. Explore Biodiversity in national park sites.

Last updated: February 18, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

HC 70, Box 15
Torrey, UT 84775



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