One of the most interesting national park facts about Capitol Reef is that visitors can actually pick fruit within the park’s bounds. That’s because the park is the only one in the nation to contain a historic orchard, originally planted before the land became a national park.
While Fruita, Utah may no longer be a town, it’s still a destination for visitors to Capitol Reef National Park. In addition to the orchards, the area also has several historic buildings to explore. Here, visitors can see what life was like for the pioneers that once lived and farmed the land in and around present-day Torrey, Utah.
Fruita is a must-see during your stay at Cougar Ridge. Keep reading to learn more about the history of this unique town and how to visit it today during your stay in our Fruita Utah hotel.
A History of Fruita
Fruita may no longer be home to any residents. But it was once home to around 10 families. It was originally founded at the end of the 19th century. Mormon pioneers in search of fertile soil settled in the Fremont River Valley. Here, they planned a variety of crops, as well as fruit trees. They planted apples, apricots, cherries, pears, and more along the banks of the Fremont River near present-day Torrey.
Flooding, drought, and the distance to other towns meant that life was hard in Fruita. Many residents had to take on additional work. Many helped build the state roads that were making their way through the area.
At its height, the town had a smattering of farmhouses. It also had a one-room school that also acted as the town’s community hall. As visitor numbers to what was then Capitol Reef National Monument grew following the end of World War II, times in the town of Fruita became increasingly difficult. The government began purchasing private land holdings around this time.
By 1955, the town was abandoned, and by the late 1960s, all residents had relocated. Many residential buildings were torn down as the land was incorporated into the park. But a few were preserved, as were the town’s orchards.
The Town of Fruita Today
During your stay at our Fruita Utah hotel, you can visit the original location of the town of Fruita. The one-room schoolhouse, which was originally built in 1896, still stands. The school’s first teacher was the 12-year-old child of one of the local families. Take a peek through the windows, and imagine what the farming families’ children saw as they shared the room with kids of all ages from the area.
The Gifford House is another original building that has been preserved and restored. The home was built in 1908 by Calvin Pendleton. The Pendleton family remained in the home for just eight years before the Jorgenson family moved in. Eventually, the home passed to one of the Jorgenson daughters, Nell, and her husband, Dewey Gifford, for whom the family is now named. In 1946, the home was added on to. The Gifford family also build a small motel in the early 1950s to house visitors to Capitol Reef, though that structure no longer exists.
The Gifford family was the last to reside in Fruita. remaining in the home until 1969. Today, visitors can walk through the home, and even purchase homemade pies, pastries, and souvenirs in the converted gift shop located in the home’s former kitchen.
Visiting the Fruita Orchards
While the Gifford House and the one-room schoolhouse are must-sees, most visitors to our Fruita Utah hotel are hoping to visit the famous orchards. While they are still located in the original location, many of the trees have been replanted as a part of efforts to preserve the historic orchards.
There are two popular times to visit the orchards: when the trees bloom in the spring and summer, and when their fruit is ready to be harvested in summer and fall.
If you want to see the orchards in bloom, you’ll want to visit during the following times:
- Cherries: March 31 to April 19
- Apricots: Early Blooms were from February 27 to March 20 and Regular Blooms were from March 7 to April 13
- Peaches: March 26 to April 23
- Pears: March 31 to May 3
- Apples: April 10 to May 6
When the fruit on the trees is ready for harvest, U-Pick signs appear in the orchards. Visitors can pick their fruit and pay for what they pick at self-pay stations located at the front of the orchards. If you want to pick fruit during your stay in our Fruita Utah hotel, visit around the following dates:
- Cherries: June 11 to July 7
- Apricots: Early Harvest is June 27 to July 22 and Regular Harvest is June 28 to July 18
- Peaches: August 4 to September 6
- Pears: August 7 to September 8
- Apples: September 4 to October 17
Planning Your Stay in Our Fruita Utah Hotel
Whether you have an interest in history or are simply looking for something unique to enjoy with your family during your stay at Cougar Ridge, a visit to Fruita is a must. Our Fruita Utah hotel is located just a short drive from the park, allowing you to make the most of your time in Capitol Reef.
Ready to start planning your own visit to Fruita? Book your stay at Cougar Ridge today!