Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fruita Historic District, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

One of the most unique things about Capitol Reef National Park is the historic town of Fruita, located smack-dab in the middle of the park. Fruita was settled in the early 1880’s by Mormon pioneers, and had at most, at any one time, only 10 families. Fruita is in a protected valley within Capitol Reef National Park, and maintains a warmer climate than the surrounding areas, which allowed for the perfect climate to grow fruit. These early settlers planted orchards that still exist today ~ cherry, apricots, peaches, pears and apples. Today, the orchards are maintained by the National Park Service, and people can go into any unlocked orchard and pick the ripe fruit when it’s in season! You are allowed to pick and eat for free whatever fruit you plan to eat at that moment (and there is a lovely picnic area amid the orchards), or if you want to a larger quantity of fruit to take home – and maybe make some pies - then you do need to pay for the fruit.

Now speaking of fruit pies – there is a lot more to Fruita than the orchards – some original homesteads have been maintained, such as the Gifford Homestead. The Gifford Homestead was originally built in 1908 by Calvin Pendleton, and then it was sold a couple times, used by the Gifford family until 1969 when it was sold to the National Park Service. These days, the Gifford Homestead serves two purposes – the house remains a small museum with period furniture, and the kitchen (added in 1946) has now been converted to a sales outlet which sells………….fruit pies! Also for sale are jams, bakery items, and handmade items by local artisans. Now if you’ve been reading this blog a while, you know darn well that we got pie ~ apple! The pies are small, maybe 5” in diameter, and cost $5. We saved ours for later, heated it up, and yum!

Now there’s actually lot more to Fruita than pies – other places to explore in the area are the Historic Fruita School (on the main road) which closed in 1941 and the Behunin Cabin, down the main road going east.

Since we didn’t stay in Capitol Reef to camp – we did check out the campground and it was lovely – large, level sites, firepits, among the orchards, and……free firewood! Since the orchards are in the national park, and maintained by public dollars (there are two full-time crew members), we figured that the free firewood is from the tree limbs trimmed off of the orchard trees.

1 comment:

Jerry and Suzy said...

We've never been to Capitol Reef, did pass by last year at the end of a very long journey, and were anxious to get back to our little lot in Benson. Maybe next time!

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