Horse & Pack Animal Use

Horseback Riding


Horse and pack animal use is considered a valid means of viewing and experiencing Capitol Reef National Park. Animals designated as "pack animals" are limited to horses, burros, and mules. Stock use in any part of the park may be prohibited when, at the discretion of the superintendent, such action is necessary to protect park resources or visitors.

Regulations and Concerns

The park has no developed overnight facilities for stock users with the exception of the Equestrian Staging Area at the Post Corral in the Waterpocket District. Overnight camping will be permitted for horse users within the Post Corral on an advanced reservation basis only. All camping units and horse trailers must be contained within the west side of the corral with horses kept in the adjacent pens or tied. There is no water available at the corral site.

Guidelines for backcountry camping with stock are described below:

  • Stock animals may not be ridden or kept overnight in any campground, picnic area, orchard or roadside pullout.
  • A free backcountry use permit, available at the visitor center, is required for each party with horses or pack animals staying overnight in the park.
  • Backcountry camping is prohibited within one half mile (0.8 km) of roads or trailheads. Camping is also prohibited within sight of established roads or trails or within sight or sound of other campers.
  • Campsites and tethering areas must be a minimum of 300 feet (91.4 m) from water or archeological sites.
  • Parties camping with horses or pack animals must camp in a new location each night.
  • Manure must be scattered before vacating the area. Manure must be removed immediately if dropped in or near any spring or non-flowing water source.
  • When picketed, select locations where horses and stock animals will cause little or no vegetation damage. Grazing and loose herding is not permitted. All feed must be carried in and must be certified weed-free feed.
  • Stock use in the park's backcountry is limited to 12 people and no more than 12 head of riding or packing stock.
  • Riders will slow to a walk when passing hikers.
  • Dogs may not accompany stock trips.
  • All commercially guided horse or pack animal trips must be provided by an outfitter that is authorized and permitted to operate under the commercial use procedures of the park.
  • Report all accidents or injuries to a park ranger or at the visitor center as soon as possible.
  • Generators are not permitted.
  • Practice Leave No Trace wilderness ethics:
    • Plan ahead and prepare.
    • Travel and camp on durable surfaces. Stay on marked trails whenever possible. (When hiking crosscountry, walk in wash bottoms, on slickrock, or use animal trails to avoid stepping in cryptobiotic crust.)
    • Dispose of waste properly. Pack it in, pack it out. Bury human waste 6" (15 cm) deep in soil and 100' (30.5 m) from water sources.
    • Leave what you find.
    • Fires are allowed only in existing fire pans and not in the backcountry.
    • Respect wildlife.
    • Be considerate of others.

Closed Areas

Horses and pack animals are prohibited on the following trails and hiking routes:

  • Brimhall Bridge
  • Capitol Gorge
  • Cassidy Arch
  • Cathedral
  • Cathedral Valley Overlook
  • Castle
  • Chimney Rock
  • Cohab Canyon
  • Fremont Gorge Viewpoint
  • Fremont River Overlook
  • Fruita Campground to the Visitor Center
  • Frying Pan Trail
  • Golden Throne
  • Goosenecks
  • Grand Wash
  • Halls Creek Narrows
  • Halls Creek Overlook
  • Headquarters Canyon
  • Hickman Bridge
  • Navajo Knobs
  • Red Canyon
  • Rim Overlook
  • Spring Canyon
  • Strike Valley Overlook
  • Sulphur Creek
  • Sunset Point
  • Surprise Canyon

Recommended Rides

The following are recommended rides in the park:

  • South Draw: Access to Tantalus Flats and Boulder Mountain or return down Pleasant Creek.
  • Old Wagon Trail: Access to Miners Mountain with good views of the Waterpocket Fold.
  • Halls Creek: Access from The Post south through Halls Creek drainage.
  • The South Desert: Access from the Upper or Lower South Desert Overlooks.

Guidelines and Regulations for the Backcountry Equestrian Staging Area

The Superintendent of Capitol Reef National Park has authorized the use of a staging area for horse users departing on overnight or day use trips into the Waterpocket District of the park. The equestrian staging area is located at the Post Corral on the Notom-Bullfrog Road about one-half mile (0.8 km) south of the Burr Trail/Notom Road junction. All use is subject to the existing regulations outlined in the park horse use policy and the park compendium. Use of the camp is limited to non-commercial groups.

Overnight camping will be permitted for horse users within the Post Corral on a reservation basis only. Reservations are free and should be made at least two weeks prior to planned use. For reservations or further information, contact the park at (435) 425-4111.

Regulations Governing the Staging Site Include:

  • There is a limit of 12 riders and 12 horses; each person must intend to ride (one rider, one horse). A maximum of 2 camp tenders may accompany the group and/or remain in camp as needed.
  • All camping units and horse trailers must be contained within the large (west) side of the corral with horses kept in the adjacent pens or tied.
  • No dogs may accompany stock trips.
  • Generators not permitted.
  • No wood gathering is allowed; no ground fires unless contained within a fire pan or grill. Ashes must be removed.
  • There is no water available at the corral site. Users must bring water for themselves and their horses.
  • Horses must be fed certified weed-free hay or pellets; grazing and loose herding are not permitted outside the corral or in the backcountry.

Last updated: May 17, 2012

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Mailing Address:

HC 70, Box 15
Torrey, UT 84775



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