LOCAL NEWS

Project to rehabilitate Capitol Reef’s Scenic Drive set to begin

Apr 28, 2024, 4:40 PM

An updated photo of Scenic Drive within Capitol Reef National Park. Parts of the road will be close...

An updated photo of Scenic Drive within Capitol Reef National Park. Parts of the road will be closed beginning on Monday as part of a project to improve the road that will take place through most of this year. (National Park Service)

(National Park Service)

TORREY, Wayne County — A section of Capitol Reef National Park’s Scenic Drive is slated to close as park officials begin a large project to rehabilitate and enhance the roadway to address the park’s growing popularity.

Scenic Drive will be closed from Grand Wash Road to Capitol Gorge beginning on Monday as crews begin work to repair the roadway. That said, park officials say visitors can still access Grand Wash Road and the trailhead parking area for Cassidy Arch and Grand Wash for another two weeks.

Officials will close the road south of the park’s fee station — south of the Fruita Campground through to Capitol Gorge — beginning on May 13. Park officials say Pleasant Creek/South Draw Road will not have any through access once this begins.

The closure is expected to remain in place until the project is completed this fall; however, park officials said this doesn’t mean the park is closed this summer.

“The majority of the park will remain open and accessible,” park officials wrote in a statement earlier this month. “Visitors can still access the Fruita area, including the visitor center, orchards, the Gifford House, and trails along state Route 24.”

The National Park Service collaborated with the Federal Highway Administration to plan the $12 million project, which was announced last year. Jim Roche, the park’s resource management chief, said several park facilities, including Scenic Drive, were in “need of repair and refurbishment” as park visitation doubled in the past decade.

Details of the project

The overall project calls for Scenic Drive to be repaved and widened in some areas for safer two-way travel and reduction of damage to unpaved land near the road. New drainage will be added to protect the road from flood damage during the summer monsoon season.

Some existing parking lots will be repaved and expanded in the park, while a new lot will be added near Grand Wash to handle the park’s growth.

A few other closures and other impacts are expected beyond the Scenic Drive closure, according to park officials.

  • Fruita Campground will be closed from June 3 through June 14
  • Travel delays are expected in June as crews repave Scenic Drive from the junction with S.R. 24 to Fruita Campground.
  • The Chimney Rock parking lot is slated to be closed “in the late summer” or fall.
  • The visitor center parking lot will be partially closed in the fall and early winter as the lot is expanded and reconfigured. Paving of the lot is planned for the spring of 2025.

The entire project is expected to be completed in 2025.

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Project to rehabilitate Capitol Reef’s Scenic Drive set to begin