Fremont Gorge Overlook, Fremont Gorge Overlook Trailhead, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Fremont Gorge Overlook - 4.4 miles

Fremont Gorge Overlook Trailhead

View of the Fremont River from Johnson Mesa

View of the Fremont River from Johnson Mesa

Round-Trip Length: 4.4 miles
Start-End Elevation: 5,428' - 6,502' (6,512' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +1,074' net elevation gain (+1,138' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
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Fremont Gorge Overlook - 4.4 Miles Round-Trip

Fremont Gorge Overlook is located 2.2 miles from Scenic Drive in Capitol Reef National Park. The trail climbs from the Blacksmith Shop in the Fruita Historic District to Johnson Mesa, then levels across for over a mile before gaining 622' in just .75 miles to a high point above a deep gorge in the Fremont River.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The trail is highlighted by open space on the mesa, and panoramic views that include the Henry Mountains and distinguished geology of the Waterpocket Fold. Perhaps the most striking feature is the large black boulders dotting Johnson Mesa.

These basalt and andesite rocks of volcanic origin came from the the flanks of Boulder and Thousand Lakes mountains west of the park, and were carried here by debris flows down the Fremont River.

Mass and velocity of these landslides off the mountains, coupled with ample water volume in the river, were enough to carry the debris tens of miles down stream. Boulders were rounded in the process and deposited along wide valley floors like we see in the Fruita area today.

Johnson Mesa itself is an interesting departure from the slickrock and canyons that typify Capitol Reef hiking trails. This high mesa is comprised of grass, cactus, boulders and pinyon-juniper woodlands, and has unabated views that include long stretches of river:

The Fremont Gorge Overlook Trail begins at the Blacksmith Shop on Scenic Drive, .8 miles from the Visitor Center. The trailhead is fairly anonymous compared to others in the area. The trail begins up a steep service road to a split (.15 miles : 5,490'), then narrows on singletrack to the mesa top (.35 miles : 5,675').

Travel moderates across the mesa to the far west side (1.45 miles : 5,880'), then steepens on a shifting path to Fremont Gorge Overlook (2.2 miles : 6,502').

A large rock pile marks the end of the trail, but you may continue along the rim. Cliff ledges are extremely unstable - keep a safe distance from drop-offs.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N38 17.194 W111 14.956 — 0.0 miles : Fremont Gorge Overlook Trailhead
  • N38 17.110 W111 14.863 — .15 miles : Trail splits off road and climbs to mesa on singletrack
  • N38 17.033 W111 15.134 — .5 miles : Level out on mesa top
  • N38 16.822 W111 15.625 — 1.0 miles : Fast travel across mesa
  • N38 16.753 W111 16.079 — 1.5 miles : Reach west end of mesa, grades steepen
  • N38 16.655 W111 16.579 — 2.0 miles : Steep, shifting trail on loose dirt and rock
  • N38 16.556 W111 16.774 — 2.2 miles : Fremont Gorge Overlook (6,502')

Worth Noting

  • This trail can be muddy after heavy rain or snow melt.
  • This trail is fully exposed. Carry sun protection and avoid if storms threaten.
  • The gorge is best lit in the morning, though late afternoon light is arguably better along most of the trail. 

Rules and Regulations

  • Dogs are not permitted on trails in Capitol Reef National Park.
  • Writing on rocks is strictly prohibited. Significant fines apply.

Directions to Trailhead

The Fremont Gorge Overlook Trailhead is located .8 miles from the Capitol Reef Visitor Center on Scenic Drive. The trailhead is located on the right side of the road at the Blacksmith Shop, across the street from Johnson Orchard.

Contact Information

Capitol Reef National Park
16 Scenic Drive
Torrey, UT 84775

Trip Reports

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