It's such a surprise to turn the corner from desert rock formations and see a lush shady valley full of fruit trees.
The tiny community of Fruita in the north central part of Capitol Reef National Park was settled by pioneers. The 10 families that lived there planted orchards of cherry, apricot, peach, pear, apple, plum, mulberry, almond, and walnut trees. Today the 200 acre Fruita Rural Historical District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Gifford Farm
In 1969, Fruita was sold to the National Park Service. The Capitol Reef Natural History Association, in cooperation with the National Park Service, has renovated and refurnished the Gifford farmhouse as a cultural demonstration site to interpret the early Mormon settlement of the Fruita valley. The house depicts the typical spartan nature of rural Utah farm homes of the early 1900s. In addition to the farmhouse, the Gifford homestead includes a barn, smokehouse, garden, pasture, and rock walls. The kitchen is a retail store selling many items including locally fresh-baked pies, jams, and ice cream.
The Gifford Homestead is located 1 mile (1.6 km) south of the visitor center on the Scenic Drive and is open 8-5 daily (possible extended hours in the summer) from March 14 (Pi Day) to October 31 (closing dates may vary).
The Fruita Orchards
You are welcome to stroll in any unlocked orchard and consume ripe fruit while in the orchards. Fruit may not be picked in quantity until the designated harvest begins; orchards that are open for picking are signed as such. Fruit taken from the orchards must be paid for. A self-pay station with scales, plastic bags, and signs listing fruit prices is located near the entrance of orchards open for fruit harvest. Please select only ripe fruit and leave the rest to ripen for other visitors.
Stroll Among the Blossoms in Spring
Cherries, First half of April
Apricots, March thu mid-April
Peaches, late-March thru late-April
Apples, mid-April thru early-May
Harvest the Fruit from Summer through Autumn
Cherries, mid-June thru early July
Apples, September thru mid-October
After you have your fill of fruit, pie, and ice cream, head down the road to see the Hickman Bridge and Petroglyphs.