Capitol Reef National Park


Formed by the same forces that shaped the Colorado Plateau and raised the Rocky Mountains, Capitol Reef National Parkpromises dramatic vistas. One hundred miles of bending, creasing rock created Waterpocket Fold, a prominent natural feature in the park. The fold's layered rock can be seen between Thousand Lake Mountain and the Colorado River. Erosion has exposed these layers, transforming the landscape into a rainbow-hued collection of cliffs, domes, arches, spires, and twisting canyons. Early settlers to the area found some of the fold's ridges to be nearly impassable, and called them "reefs." The park takes its name from one of the most rugged of these features. The first indication of human habitation in the Capitol Reef area dates back to the ninth century, A.D., when people of the Fremont Culture cultivated squash, beans, and other crops along the Fremont River. By the mid-13th century, the Fremont people abandoned the area. When trappers and explorers finally ventured into this beautiful but remote and forbidding area in the late 1860s, they found nomadic Utes and Paiutes. In the 1870s, a few Mormons moved into the vicinity. In 1880, the first Homesteaders settled in the lush Fremont River Valley. The area became known as "Junction". Founded at the junction of the Fremont River and Sulphur Creek, this community supported around ten families who grew vegetables, sorghum, and alfalfa. Junction's prosperity, however, was due to its orchards. The settlers planted apple, peach, cherry, apricot, mulberry, and plum trees, along with almond and walnut trees, and over 2,500 of the trees survive to this day. In the early 20th century Junction was renamed "Fruita," and today the remains of this historic community are central to visitor activities at Capitol Reef. Capitol Reef park was designated as a national monument in 1937, but it wasn't until the early 1960s, when a paved road into the area was completed, that visitation rose. In 1971, Capitol Reef was established as a national park. Although it still remains remote and rugged, the park welcomes nearly 700,000 visitors per year. What to see and do: The main road through Capitol Reef National Park, scenic UT 24, leads to the visitor center near the 200-acre historic Fruita settlement. In addition to providing information on trail and road conditions throughout the park, the visitor center features an introductory audiovisual presentation, shown on request, and a huge relief map of the park. Geological exhibits explain the natural history of the park, while the area's human history is represented by artifacts from the ancient Fremont Culture and the more recent Mormon inhabitants. A bookstore sells topographical maps, related publications, and interpretive items. Rangers offer interpretive programs throughout the summer. Ripple Rock Nature Center also opens Wednesday through Sunday. You'll find the orchards and the historic site of Fruita near the visitor center. Although many of Fruita's buildings were removed, a few historic structures remain, including the Merin Smith implement shed, and the one-room schoolhouse, built of logs in 1896, which also served as a community center for dances and other social gatherings. Summertime visitors can savor homemade fruit pies, baked breads, old-fashioned soda pop and ice cream at Gifford House, the farmhouse that's now part museum, part country store. It's open daily 9 AM to 4:30 PM. The park's picnic area and a developed campground also can be found at Fruita. The orchards surrounding the settlement still yield, and visitors are welcome to pick ripe fruit from the trees for their own immediate consumption. During harvest, you can pick the fruit in bulk, for a fee. Price lists, plastic bags, scales, and a self-pay station are located at orchard entrances, in season. Visitors are reminded to read and follow all instructions on the use of orchard equipment. Take a 90-minute Scenic Drive through Capitol Reef.


HC 70 Box 15
Torrey, UT 84775


38.29075700, -111.26245600
Visit Website
(435) 425-3791

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