Cougar Ridge

Where is the Reef? And Other Common Questions About Capitol Reef

Feb 15, 2024 | Capitol Reef National Park, Cougar Ridge Lodge, National Parks, Our Blog | 0 comments

Planning a visit to Capitol Reef National Park and Cougar Ridge? You’ve no doubt researched the hiking trails that you’d like to hike, the scenic drives you’ll take, and maybe where you’ll dine during your stay. But if you find yourself with some questions about planning your visit, you’re not alone. That’s why we’re answering some common questions about the park.

Where is the “Reef” in Capitol Reef National Park?

If you’re looking for the remnants of an inland ocean, perhaps with some fossilized coral, you won’t find them in Capitol Reef. Instead, the name was inspired by the Waterpocket Fold. Many of the prospectors who explored the area that is now Capitol Reef had nautical backgrounds. The 87-mile-long ripple, with its different layers of earth on colorful display, no doubt reminded them of a barrier reef.

The second half of the name, “Capitol,” came from another part of the park’s rock formations; the white domes of Navaja Sandstone that dot the park. Early European settlers noted that the domes looked a little like that of the Capitol building in Washington, DC. 

Who Planted the Fruita Orchards?

The Fruita orchards are one of Capitol Reef National Park’s most popular attractions. Located a couple of miles from the visitor center, the orchards bloom each spring, and bear fruit from mid-summer through the fall. Apricots, peaches, pears, and apples grow on hundreds of trees in the orchards.

If you think that fruit orchards seem like an odd attraction to find in a national park, you’re not wrong. Capitol Reef National Park is perhaps the only park in the U.S. that’s home to orchards. But that’s because they were located there before the land became a part of the national park.

The orchards are located in what was once the community of Fruita. In fact, that part of the park is often still referred to by that name today. The community consisted of pioneers of the Latter-Day Saints faith, who traveled to what is now Torrey, Utah from Salt Lake City in search of new life. They planted farms, including the orchards. 

After the community of Fruita became a part of the national park in the 1960s, the orchards were preserved, along with some structures from the community, including the Gifford Homestead. Today, the NPS continues to preserve and maintain the orchards, allowing current and future guests of the park to continue to pick fruit and enjoy the beauty of the orchards.

Can You Really Pick Fruit in the Orchards?

Not only are the Fruita orchards open to visitors today, but guests can also actually pick and eat fruit in the orchards. However, it’s important to make sure that you’re following the rules when you do so and only picking fruit in orchards that are open for picking at that time.

The rules in place are designed to protect the fruit trees so that they will continue to produce fruit. When the orchards are open for picking, there will be a sign letting guests know at the entrance to the orchards. Typically, at least one type of fruit is available for picking from late June, starting with apricots, to mid-October, when ends with apples.

You’ll need to pay for any fruit that you pick. You can do so at the self-service stations located at the entrance to the orchards. You’ll also find some tools to help you pick fruit there.

Do I Need a Reservation for Capitol Reef National Park?

Several popular national parks across the country have begun requiring reservations or timed-entry tickets in order to visit during the busiest times of the year. This can make planning a visit to these parks a little more difficult, especially if you’re hoping to plan a last-minute visit. 

But if you’re thinking about planning a last-minute stay at Cougar Ridge, you’re in luck; reservations are not required to visit Capitol Reef National Park. 

Will I Have Wi-Fi or Cell Service in Capitol Reef?

Wondering whether or not you’ll be able to post pictures of your adventures or check your email while you’re exploring all that Capitol Reef National Park has to offer? That’s unlikely in much of the park.

Wi-Fi and cell service are scarce in the park. But don’t worry; you’ll have both when you get back to your private villa or The Grand Lodge at Cougar Ridge.

Answering Other Common Questions About Capitol Reef

We’ve answered a few common questions about Capitol Reef National Park. But if you’re looking for even more resources to help you plan your stay at Cougar Ridge, you’re in luck.

Check out our blog for everything from hiking tips to advice on how to spend your time at our resort.

Skip to content