Horse & Pack Animal Use

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Chestnut horse with white stripe on forehead, pricked ears, and pack saddle on back.
Capitol Reef sometimes uses horses to bring supplies to remote areas of the park.

NPS/C. Roundtree

Recreational horse and pack animal use is a traditional means of viewing and experiencing Capitol Reef National Park. “Pack animals” are defined as horses, burros, and mules. Stock use in any part of the park may be prohibited when necessary to protect park resources or visitors.

For additional information see the Park Laws, Policies, and Superintendent's Compendium.

Restricted Areas

Horses and pack animals are allowed throughout the park except the following areas:

  • Trails starting on Utah State Route 24 or the Scenic Drive
  • Capitol Gorge and Golden Throne Trail
  • Grand Wash
  • Upper and Lower Spring Canyon
  • Halls Creek Narrows
  • Halls Overlook Trail

The following regulations protect fragile desert resources which are easily damaged by stock use. The superintendent has determined that stock use is appropriate under these conditions which help protect park resources.

 

Horse and Pack Animal Use Restrictions

For all trips involving horses and/or pack animals (day use or overnight), the following regulations apply:

  • May not be kept overnight in any established roadside pullout, campground, picnic area or orchard, with the exception of the Equestrian Staging Area at the Post Corral.
  • 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.
  • A Backcountry Use Permit, available at the visitor center, is required for each party with horses or pack animals staying overnight in the park.
  • Day use and backcountry use parties with horses or pack animals must camp and picket their animals at least 300 feet from tanks, ponds, any archeological or historical site, and backcountry trail junctions, and at least 100 feet from any water course (wet or dry).
  • Camping with horses or pack animals (other than in the Equestrian Staging Area) is prohibited within 1/2 mile of established roads or trailheads. Camping is also prohibited within sight of established roads or trails, or within sight and sound of other camping parties.
  • Parties camping with horses or pack animals, (other than the Post Equestrian Staging Area) must camp in a new location each night.
  • Horse and pack animal manure must be scattered upon vacating a campsite. Manure must be removed immediately if dropped in or near any spring or non-flowing water source.
  • All feed must be carried in and supplied by horse and pack animal users. All feed must be certified weed-free during trip duration and for 2 full days prior to visit to limit exotic and/or invasive weed introduction and spreading.
  • When being used in the park’s backcountry, group size is limited to no more than 12 people and no more than a total of 12 head of horses or pack animals.
  • Loose herding of horses and pack animals is prohibited.
  • Riders will slow their mounts to a walk when passing hikers.
  • Horses and pack animals must be picketed in locations where there will be minimum vegetation damage.
  • Dogs may not accompany recreational stock trips.
 
Old, deteriorating wooden fence with colorful rock cliffs and blue sky behind.
The Post Corral area offers impressive views of the eastern side of the Waterpocket Fold.

NPS/ A. Huston

Post Corral Equestrian Staging Area

The equestrian staging area at the Post Corral is located in the park’s South (Waterpocket) District, about 35 miles (57 km) south of Utah Highway 24 via the Notom-Bullfrog Road and Burr Trail Road. Check at the visitor center, or call 435-425-3791 and press 1 for more information, then 4 for current road conditions, since stormy weather may impact access to this site.

All parties must obtain advanced reservations by phone (435-425-4111) or in-person, and must also obtain a backcountry permit, in-person, from the visitor center, prior to use.

 

This is the park’s only developed overnight facility for stock users. It is also available for day use, under the same conditions as for overnight users:

  • Permitted only for non-commercial horse users.
  • Requires advanced reservation up to one year in advance by phone or in person, and requires the party to obtain a backcountry permit in person from the visitor center, prior to use.
  • All vehicles, camping units, and trailers associated with groups camping at the site must be parked within the large (west) side of the corral, and horses must be contained within the corral area.
  • Camp use is limited to one group of 12 riders and 12 horses. Up to two camp tenders may also accompany the group, and may remain in camp as needed.
  • Generator operation is prohibited.
  • Day use riders can use this area for staging day trips. Vehicles and trailers must be parked in the area marked by signs that are located adjacent to the corral, and not at the trailhead.
  • Ground fires are prohibited unless contained within a portable fire pan or grill. Ashes must be removed out of the park. Wood gathering is prohibited.
  • There is no water available at the corral site.
 

Recommended Rides

Halls Creek:

Access from the Post Corral (Waterpocket District) south through Halls Creek drainage; Halls Creek Narrows is closed to all stock use— however, the narrows can be bypassed with stock via the Hall Divide route.

South Desert:

Access from Upper or Lower South Desert Overlooks, from the Hartnet Road, in the Cathedral Valley District.

South Draw Road:

Access to Tantalus Flats and Boulder Mountain or return down Pleasant Creek; accessed from the Pleasant Creek trailhead.

Explore Other Park Sites by Horseback

 
Horseback Riding

NPS

Last updated: March 12, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

HC 70, Box 15
Torrey, UT 84775

Phone:

435-425-3791
Recorded park information available 24 hours a day. Phones are answered when staff is available. If no one answers, please leave a message, your call will be returned. Questions may also be sent to care_information@nps.gov.

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