Sulphur Creek Trail | Capitol Reef

We found a new favorite hike in Capitol Reef National Park. This one is really amazing for kids and adults alike, but it does come with a little bit more than walking. This is because the hike requires several creek crossings and a little bit of trail finding. Don’t worry, though we will make this one easy for you. You will want to add Sulphur Creek Trail to your Capitol Reef itinerary.

Sulphur Creek trail is a favorite hike of ours.

Where to find Sulphur Creek Trail

Sulphur Creek Trail starts right at the Visitor Center and travels three-quarters of a mile to a small waterfall. That makes the roundtrip distance about 1.5 miles total. Along the way, you’ll walk in the shadow of beautiful red cliffs, hop the chuckling creek, and pass a hundred-year-old lime kiln. This hike really does have something for everyone. You can complete the hike in fewer than 90 minutes.

To start the hike, face the Visitor Center and cut through the garden area in the front right of the building (counter-clockwise). The trail goes right along the side of the building and around to the back. It continues to hug the Visitor Center complex as it travels south to a large red rock wall. You’ll stay on the near side of the stream through this section.

The. trail starts right behind the Visitor Center.
Stay right along the edge of the buildings and head toward this cliff.

The Sulphur Creek trail isn’t always clear, but it is up away from the creek very near the buildings until the rock cliff comes into view (above). Once you reach the cliff, it becomes a bit more defined. Besides, you can’t really get lost as you’ll follow the creek all the way to the waterfall.

The trail was beautiful in the Fall. We highly recommend this time for hiking!
We walked down to this fence and then crossed.

Sulphur Creek Crossings

As you leave the cool shadow at the foot of the cliff, crossing the shallow creek, you can stay mostly dry. However, we weren’t able to remain dry all the way to the waterfall. Those who just chose to get their feet wet were a bit safer, though wetter, than those leaping from rock. Mom was so glad that she wore her adidas waterproof hiking shoes. She loves these hiking shoes because they are comfortable and waterproof, so she never worries about wet feet anymore. The boys really want their own pair of waterproof hiking shoes after watching Mom.

There are lots and lots of creek crossings.
Waterproof shoes are definitely a good plan.

You’ll cross the creek at least a half dozen times, so we recommend wearing shoes that are waterproof, or at least shoes that you don’t mind getting wet. You will often find places with rocks to hop, but some places would be tricky for young kids. Walking through the creek would be much easier and safer.

Our youngest preferred to just hike through the creek instead of hopping from rock to rock.

Trail Sign

At about the quarter mile mark, you come to a sign that faces away from you. It directs you to cross the river, and you’ll see a small ruin across the creek. Don’t cross, though, as that is the route back to the Visitor Center. Just continue up the river. The Sulphur Creek Trail is really beautiful as you walk through the soft sand up to the waterfall.

You come up to this sign from behind, but it will help you on the way back to the Visitor Center.


After 0.75 miles you will come to a small waterfall. The waterfall is about 8-10 feet tall and lands in a small pool. This would be a great places to cool off in the summer. This is often called the first waterfall because you can continue the trail up past the waterfall for a long way. Dad and some of the older kids could have made it up the chute to the next level, but it was definitely not a very family friendly extension. Instead, just turn around and head back the way you came. For more information about the full Sulphur Creek Trail, visit the Capitol Reef website.

The trail bounces back and forth across the creek the entire way.
The canyon narrows a little as you get close to the waterfall.
The waterfall is small, but a fun destination.
You can see how tall it is in this picture.


On the way back, when you get to the sign that directs you across the river, turn left and walk over to the kiln. You can walk all around the kiln and our kids went inside to look around.

The kiln is an interesting stop on the way back.

After viewing the kiln, continue on across the flat. The Sulphur Creek trail finally drops back down to the creek near the Visitor Center. This is a different route than the one you took to the waterfall, but it offers some great views from above the creek. Once you arrive at the creek, you’ll have to cross and complete the loop. This hike is certainly worth your time, and since it starts right at the park hub, make sure that you allot time for this fun adventure.

The trail walks across the top so you have a great look at Sulphur Creek.

Other Information

We loved hiking the Sulphur Creek Trail in the Fall. The colors were beautiful and the weather was perfect. We have heard that the creek levels vary throughout the year, so sometimes is will be easier to cross than others. For other Kid-Friendly trails in Capitol Reef, check out our Capitol Reef Kid hikes. There are a lot of great places for families in this park.

We enjoyed this hike in Capitol Reef .

Since parking at the Visitor Center can often be full, there is a small gravel parking lot just west of the Visitor Center on Highway 24. From there, cross the highway to begin the trail behind the Visitor Center.

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