The Sunset Point Trail
is the shortest hike in Capitol Reef National Park
, just 0.4 miles, though is missed by many visitors since it starts at the end of a short section of unpaved road. The path follows the rim of the twisting, 500 foot-deep canyon of Sulphur Creek
to a fine viewpoint atop a red rock ridge, looking east along the lower reaches of the canyon towards the cliffs and domes of Capitol Reef. The elevated position and the easterly view makes this a favorite location for watching the setting sun.
Another even shorter path leads to a vantage point on a different part of the canyon, high above one of several tight bends - this is the Goosenecks Overlook
, and both routes can be walked in only half an hour.
All the surface rocks in this location are from the Moenkopi Formation, red brown in color and thin-layered, forming numerous small benches and jagged ridges. The canyon though cuts down into the underlying, grey/yellow Kaibab limestone, and the division between the two can be seen about half way down the cliffs.
LocationTrail map for Capitol Reef
The trailhead is 0.9 miles from Hwy 24, towards the western edge of the park, on a road which is paved for 600 feet, to the overlook of Panorama Point
, and then unpaved, rather washboarded in places, but still usually fine for all vehicles, subject to a maximum length limit of 27 feet. The path to Sunset Point heads east from the parking area, through a group of red boulders and into sandier terrain, curving round a small ravine and ending at the viewpoint, on the flat top of a narrow ridge. A bench is installed a little way back. The view is similar (though not as good) to that at the end of the much longer and less often hiked Fremont Gorge Overlook Trail
a little way south, which follows the rim of a rather deeper canyon. An alternative to walking back from Sunset Point along the trail is to stay close to the canyon rim, a walk which is more undulating but soon reaches the Goosenecks Overlook, where projecting rocks hide some of the creek far below but most of the canyon is in full view. This overlook is just 100 feet from the parking area.