Cougar Ridge

A visit to Capitol Reef National Park wouldn’t be complete without a cruise along the Scenic Drive, a hike on the Waterpocket Fold—and a visit to the Gifford House. 

One of the most unique national park facts about Capitol Reef is that the land that the park is on was occupied right up until it became a national park. One home still remains in the park today. This historic home offers a window into the park’s history and the settlers who lived in and around Capitol Reef before it became a national park. Today, it acts as a museum, visitors center, and gift shop that’s a popular stop for visitors.

If you’re planning your first stay in Torrey, UT vacation rentals, a stop at Gifford House is a must. Keep reading to learn more about this unique icon, and why you should plan a visit during your stay at Cougar Ridge.

History of Gifford House

The Gifford House is a popular spot to stop for a snack during your visit to Capitol Reef. But it was once home to several families that moved to the region in search of a better life.

The Gifford House stands in what was once the community of Junction, which later became Fruita. Never incorporated, the settlement was established in 1880 by a farmer by the name of Nels Johnson. In 1908, a man by the name of Calvin Pendleton moved to Fruita and built what would later be called the Gifford House. 

The original home consisted of a front room and kitchen, with two small bedrooms attached. An outside ladder led upstairs to two more bedrooms. There was also a barn and a smokehouse on the property. Pendleton and his family lived in the home for just eight years before the next family, the Jorgenson family, moved in. They lived in the home from 1916 to 1928 when the home passed to the father’s son-in-law, Dewey Gifford. This is when the house gained its name.

The Gifford family lived in the home from 1928 to 1960. In 1946, a kitchen was added. Then, in 1954, a bathroom, utility room, and carport were added as well. The Gifford family were the last residents of the settlement of Fruita. Dewey Gifford sold the home to the National Park Service and moved away in 1969, marking the end of the town’s long and storied history.

Visiting the Gifford Homestead Today

Because the home passed straight from the Gifford family to the National Park Service, it has been well-preserved. Today, it is a museum and visitor center popular among guests wanting to learn what life was like for the region’s settlers.

Inside the house, exhibits and displays showcase the history of the area, highlighting the lives of the early settlers and the challenges they faced. Visitors can learn about traditional farming techniques, local wildlife, and the geological wonders that make Capitol Reef such a unique and diverse landscape.

The Perfect Spot for a Delicious Snack

One of the main draws of Gifford House is its bakery and store, where visitors can indulge in a variety of homemade treats. From freshly baked pies made with locally grown fruit to savory pastries and artisanal bread, there’s something to satisfy every taste. 

The Gifford House can easily be combined with a visit to the famous Fruita orchards. Here, visitors can pick fruit grown on some of the same trees planted by the settlement’s first farmers. Even when the fruit isn’t in season, you can still take a stroll through the orchards, and marvel at the unique beauty of this green oasis.

Planning Your Stay in Torrey, UT Vacation Rentals

Gifford House is more than just a bakery and store—it’s a living testament to the rich history and vibrant community of Capitol Reef National Park. From its humble beginnings as a homestead for early settlers to its present-day role as a gathering place for travelers and locals alike, the house is an icon of this beautiful national park.

Whether you’re stopping in for a slice of pie or simply soaking up the atmosphere, a visit to Gifford House is a must during your stay in Torrey, UT vacation rentals. Be sure to make time to stop by the home at least once during your visit to Cougar Ridge.

Ready to start planning your next visit to Cougar hotels? From our beautiful private villas to the ultra-luxurious Grand Lodge, there’s a lodging option for every type of traveler at Cougar Ridge. Book your stay today to see for yourself what makes our property one of the best that Torrey, Utah has to offer.

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