After leaving Bryce Canyon we had made our way to Torrey, Utah for a one night stop. Don't rule out spending more time in Capitol Reef National Park however, as it is a hidden treasure filled with many fascinating natural structures - cliffs, canyons, domes, and bridges in the Waterpocket Fold.
We were pushed for time, hence only one night in this stunning area, but as the trip from Torrey to Moab is only about a 2.5 hour drive, we still had time to stop and explore some outstanding areas around Capitol Reef National Park.
On the way to the Fruita district you pass some amazing landscapes. We chose to do a short climb up the hill to be amazed by the stunning views over the valley.
Fruita (froo-tuh) is a cool, green oasis, where shade-giving cottonwoods and fruit-bearing trees line the Fremont River's banks. I could not believe the outstanding colours from the deep blue sky to the red rocks and fall colours of the leaves. "The first Mormon homesteaders arrived there in 1879; Fruita's final resident left in 1969." The orchards along the Fremont River and Sulphur Creek are remnants of the pioneer community of Fruita. These relics of the area’s history serve as a connection to Fruita’s pioneer agricultural tradition and embody a living connection between local residents and their history and culture. They also provide food to visitors and park employees.
Among the historic buildings, the NPS maintains 3000 cherry, apricot, peach, pear and apple trees planted by early settlers. We visited in October and at this time there was ample fruit to pick. I did read that if you visit between June and October you can pluck ripe fruit from the trees, for free, from any unlocked orchard.
The fall colours were absolutely stunning.
This is the old blacksmith shop containing Fruita's first tractor....
and a scattering of horse drawn farming equipment.
Across the road from the blacksmith shop is the Ripple Rock Nature Center, a family-oriented learning center. The Gifford Homestead is an old homestead museum where you can also buy ice cream, Scottish scones or salsas and preserves made from the orchard fruit. Don't skip purchasing one of its famous pies – up to 13 dozen are sold daily (and they usually run out!). The apple pie was so delicious.
Near the orchards is a wonderful picnic area, with roaming deer and birds in the trees – a desert rarity.
Don't miss the bridge that is encased in the beautiful fall colours, prior to, or after seeing the petroglyphs.
Between 1400 and 700 years ago, a group of people (called the Fremont) were carving petroglyphs in sandstone across the American Southwest. Hundreds if not thousands of examples have been found in Utah, including this fine display located in Capitol Reef National Park.