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gem icon Fruita Orchards [Suggest Edits]

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A desert escape might be what draws most visitors to Capitol Reef National Park, but a trip to this spectacular park would be remiss without stopping at the improbable Gifford Homestead fruit orchards.

While you're more likely to see cactus and other desert-faring plants throughout the park, the Gifford Homestead fruit orchards are a testament to the ingenuity of Fruita's early pioneers and underscore the importance of the Freemont River. Situated on the banks of the river about two miles from the main visitor center, the fruit orchards are still active today. Many varieties of fruit tree were planted by the first settlers of the area including apples, apricots, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, plums, almonds, and walnuts. No more than 10 families lived in the area at one time, and the groves were able to provide much-needed sustenance as well as served as an important cash crop for the pioneers. While the full-time residents had all moved away by 1970, 3,100 trees remain as an important reminder of their presence.

The National Park Service continues to maintain the orchards, performing the necessary pruning, grafting, mapping, and irrigation that keeps the trees healthy. All of the trees continue to bear fruit, and visitors are welcome to sample the harvest of the orchards in season. Please note that only unlocked orchards are open to picking, and available orchards will have ample signage indicating that the public is welcome. If you intend to leave with your harvest, you'll have to pay at one of the self-service pay stations, where plastic bags and prices are located. Please remember that some of these trees are over 125 years old, and they deserve respect. Never climb the trees, and instead utilize the tools that the National Park Service provides.

For more information on flowering and harvesting seasons, click here.

Short Walk: Most of the orchard groves are located a short jaunt away from a visitor center, campground, or parking area.

Gem Type: Historic Site

Shared by:
Mikhaila Redovian

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Shared by Mikhaila Redovian on Sep 8, 2016. All Page Views: 673. Last Month: 2.