The most accessible part of Capitol Reef National Park  (435/425-3791, www.nps.gov/care , $5 per vehicle) is along Highway 24, about 11 miles east of Torrey . In fact, several trails start right off the highway, which means that it’s not necessary to pay admission fees in order to get a tiny taste of this park.
Start with a good 10-minute slide show, shown on request, introducing Capitol Reef’s natural wonders and history. In the main room of the visitor center (435/425-3791, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. daily June–Sept., 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. daily Oct.–May), a giant relief map offers a bird’s-eye view of the entire park.
Rock samples and diagrams illustrate seven of the park’s geologic formations, and photos identify local plants and birds. Prehistoric Fremont Indian artifacts on display include petroglyph replicas, sheepskin moccasins, pottery, basketry, stone knives, spear and arrow points, and bone jewelry. Other historic exhibits outline exploration and early Mormon settlement.
Hikers can pick up a map of trails that are near the visitor center and of longer routes in the southern park areas; naturalists will want the checklists of plants, birds, mammals, and other wildlife, while history buffs can learn more about the area’s settlement and the founding of the park.
Rangers offer nature walks, campfire programs, and other special events from Easter to mid-October; the bulletin board outside the visitor center lists what’s on. The visitor center is on Highway 24 at the turn-off for Fruita Campground  and the Scenic Drive .