Capitol Reef -Hickman Bridge : Featured on


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! My friends at Just Go Travel Studios have featured my post on the Hickman Bridge Hike in their article 11 Best Day Hikes in Capitol Reef Park. I love the charts they provide that plot hikes based on elevation gain and distance…makes it easy to choose the right hikes for your itinerary. Check it out.


Having spent the morning exploring Cathedral Valley, we needed a short hike in the main section of Capitol Reef National Park after lunch. Two miles east of the visitor center, we parked in the lot for the Hickman Bridge trail head. From this lot, you can access the 2-mile round-trip hike to Hickman Bridge, as well as the 4.5-mile hike to Rim Overlook.


The Hickman Bridge Trail is a pretty popular one because it’s fairly short and moderate. Most of the elevation gain of 400 feet is in the beginning of the trail with stairs carved into the rock and switchbacks. There is no shade, and even in April, it was a thirsty climb.


The canyon views once you get to the midway point are great, with many unique rock formations in sight, like the Capitol Dome.


As the trail started dipping down, we came to a small double natural bridge named after a 19th century Fruita homesteader,  Nels Johnson.


After the Nels Johnson Bridges, the trail climbed again, winding around the 133 foot span of the Hickman Natural Bridge.


The arch is the largest in the park and is named for Joe Hickman. Hickman, together with his brother in law, Ephraim Pectol, paved the way for Capitol Reef to become a National Park. The two men campaigned for the ‘Wayne Wonderland’ to be given protected status.


In 1924, Hickman, as a state legislator, succeeded in having the area set aside as a state park. After the dedication ceremony, Hickman petitioned the federal government to designate the Wayne Wonderland National Monument, but he was killed in a boating accident shortly afterwards.


Pectol took over and spent more than a decade working with the federal government, helping to survey the area. FDR created Capitol Reef National Monument in 1937. The monument was elevated to National Park status by Congress in 1971.

Capitol Reef posts:

Location: Wayne, Utah

Designation: National Park

Date designated or established: 12/18/1971

Date of my visit: 4/13/2017


22 thoughts on “Capitol Reef -Hickman Bridge : Featured on

  1. Capitol Reef is wonderful, isn’t it? One of our faves especially camping in the Fruita campground, snagging homemade pies at Gifford House and fruit picking in the orchards. Hickman Bridge is a goodie for the whole family if it’s not mid-summer; Brimhall Bridge and Canyon are great, too but can be a bit…uh…challenging. Great fun to explore for Butch Cassidy hide-aways!

  2. Looks like a great hike. Oh to be out hiking again. How is everything going out your way, T. We are well here, with weather warming up, but there is a lot of snow to melt. Stay well. Allan

    1. Hi Allan. We miss our weekend hikes too. Attempting a Virtual happy hour with our hiking group tonight, but it’s not the same. I see your snow pictures…we never really got any this winter. I shoveled once in November. Everything started blooming mid March…so early 😯

  3. Congratulations for having your article featured. It looks like you were the only ones there. A large group of spring breakers interrupted our peaceful lunch under the bridge.

  4. Kings On the Road

    Capitol Reef is among the best of the lesser known national parks. The hiking and beauty are spectacular. Thanks for the reminder post and great images.

    1. Thanks for commenting 😊. I think the secret may be out. Though it was far less crowded than Zion or Bryce, we did have to wait for a spot to open up at this trailhead…small lot, popular hike. We were completely alone in other areas of the park which didn’t happen in the others

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