Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Move to Capitol Reef National Park–LOVE IT!

Wednesday August 28 & Thursday August 29, 2014
Fruita Campground
Capitol Reef National Park, Utah






It was 187 mile drive today between the Saddlehorn Campground at Colorado National Monument in Fruita Colorado to the Fruita Campground at Capitol Reef National Park.   I read that Fruita was given its name because it was situated in a major fruit growing area.  The Colorado River does run through there but I didn’t see any evidence or advertisement of fruit growing.

Not so with Fruita Campground.   There are fruit orchards within walking distance and we definitely took advantage.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.






The drive on I 70 to UT 24 was another lovely one.  We came off the mountains into what looked like the plains.  BIG sky!  As we drove onto UT 24 the formations and monoliths were really beautiful.   Sorry for the kayaks in the top of all my pictures.   For most of the drive there was no one else on UT 24 until we neared Capitol Reef.   I was ahead to make sure there was a campsite for us in this walk in campground.  



And boy was there.   How about this for a backdrop?



Although this isn’t the Duckie view, it is the view from our patio at sunset.   WOW is all I can say!  What a location for a campground.




Fruita campground has 3 loops and there are a variety of sizes and shapes of sites although none that will fit anything much larger than Winnona as you can see. We have a double pad with room for Ruby parked on Winnona’s driver’s side and for our recliners and other things out our front door. As you can see, Winnona fits perfectly into this site front to back and in none of the 3 loops are there any sites that would accommodate a rig longer than 35’. The campground has a dump station with a potable water tap, it has very nice restrooms but no showers.

The real drawback for us is there is no cell or broadband signal. In fact, there is no cell or broadband signal for nearly 20 miles. The campground did install a pay phone while we were there so if you have some sort of calling card phone access is available.  

As you can see from the date of this post and today’s date I was not able to post at all from here.




Here’s what was going on in our yard when we got out this morning.





The campground host has a two sided board at his site on which all the information anyone could need is posted and updated regularly.  You can find out the upcoming weather, the ranger programs, the hikes and the fruit orchards that are open.

Picking fruit is #1 on David’s agenda for today.  We check the map and head over to the peach orchard where the policies are, you can eat all you want in the orchard and pay only $1.25 a pound for what you take with you.  The money goes to maintaining the trees.  They don’t spray but do have to pay people to prune.   So these appear to be organic fruits.


There are also pears and apples in the orchard.  They put little tags on the trees you are not to pick.  But you can get more than enough of any fruit picking them up off the ground.   David ate a ridiculous amount of fruit, something like 5 peaches 3 pears and 2 apples.  I’m amazed he didn’t make himself sick.








Beautiful setting for a fruit orchard.



After our fruit fore, we come back to put our pickings in the refrigerator and walk over to the Gifford House Museum and Store.  The path goes right from our site to the store along the Freemont River.  It’s a short and lovely walk.  You can see the roof of one of the farm out buildings in this picture I took of the path we were to take far too many times during our stay.





The beautiful Freemont River flows all along the path.




The Gifford House is the restored home and barn of one of the Mormon Settlers of Fruita. It has some period furniture, a display case of pictures of local residents and their life in Fruita before the National Park.





This is a dangerous store.  They have wonderful home made pies and breakfast rolls as well as ice cream to go on each.  The far right cupboard is full of little fruit pies; cherry, peach, mixed berry and apple.   The case between the two doors is filled with cinnamon buns and muffins of every sort.   They open at 8am and if you don’t get over here before noon you risk their being sold out of your favorite. 




They also have many hand made items most of which remind me of my Aunt Carrie and the handwork she was constantly doing.  Crocheted tablecloths and bed covers, hand woven rag rugs, hand sewn aprons, quilts, brooms, embroidered tea towels just to name a few.  And bonnets!  But I already have a couple of those.







Now these are aprons made the way they should be.  I don’t know about you but when I’m cooking and especially baking I need something to keep the spills off my shirt as well as skirt or pants.  And a pocket for the recipe card doesn’t hurt either.




All of these including the baked goods are done by local people, mostly women. The hand embroidered tea towels are done by an 89 year old resident. I was SO tempted to buy things I don’t need just because I loved them.

Of course we did buy a little fresh cherry pie.   More on that later.



The store has picnic tables overlooking the barn if you’d like to eat your pie or ice cream right here right now.  We take ours back to Winnona for dinner desert.





After dropping off the pie, we walk over to the park’s picnic area (not to be confused with the one at the store) to take a look at the huge cotton wood trees there.  They are so big we can’t get decent pictures of them.   It’s tough to hug a tree this big.

My tree is in the foreground here and David’s is in the background.






We decide to have a circumference contest.   I hold the 50’ tape measure while David walks around my tree which comes in at 25’ 9.6” in circumference.



David has a nearly 6’ arm span so his tree gets a much better hug.





BUT his tree comes in at “only” 23’ 11”.    I WIN!    But seriously, think about it.   That’s their size at chest high.  These are fabulous trees who obviously love it here.





We can see a bridge at the back of the picnic area.  It goes across the Freemont River and on the other side, we find another fruit orchard.    David of course has to eat some more fruit.  This is a pear orchard.   Boy are they good.  We fill our pockets.







The trees are heavy with fruit.   Again it is falling off the trees.







We go out the gate of the orchard and across the road to the Fruita School House.  The Mormon settlers valued education highly and the Fruita residents donated the land, materials and labor to built this schoolhouse and the money for the teacher’s pay.  The school opened in 1896.  Eight grades were taught in one room with 8 to 26 students attending classes at any one time. 

The building also served as a community meeting place, Sunday school and Saturday night social center.  The school closed in 1941 due to declining enrollment; the few remaining Fruita students were then bused to consolidated area schools.   This is a pretty long way since the nearest town of Torrey is over 12 miles away.






The schoolhouse is not open though you can peek in the windows. The school looks as though the teachers and students have just left for the day.  Outside there is a Push Button speaker which allows you to listen to a woman who taught here for the 1934-35 school year.  Her story is  very interesting.  She was a first year teacher.  She didn’t say why she didn’t return but I got the feeling it was a rough year for her.





There is an orchard in the school side yard.  Of course David has to inspect and sample it. 





Although we have been very well informed of the happenings in the park by the campground host’s site board, we take a trip to the visitor center and, like in all National Parks we have been to, find it to be excellent.  The information on the creation of this topography really helps in appreciating what we are seeing.  We learn about waterpockets, desert varnish, black boulders and how the rocks were uplifted.  My memory being what it is these days, I take many pictures of the exhibits to refer back to.  Wish I could print them all out and take them on the trails with me.

LOVE those table maps.







We also learn there are 3 districts here, the Cathedral District, the Historic District and the Waterpocket District.  We will be lucky to explore the one of them that Ruby can handle.  The other two require high clearance vehicles and that’s not her unfortunately. 

This is a long skinny park running North East to South West and adjoining the Glen Canyon Recreation Area in the South which then adjoins the Grand Staircase Escalante.  I really love all this protected land which gives big animals a chance to live their lives and have reproductive territories.  Clearly one could spend a year in this area and never lack for things to see, do and learn.   If it wasn’t for the winters that is.  I’m not sure my eyes could take it but I sure wish I could.


We head back for dinner and PIE!  We always have to try a cherry pie that looks good even knowing that, because this is not cherry season here, the filling is not fresh fruit.  I declare it not as good as David’s or the Grand Traverse Pie Company in Michigan.  But it is a good pie and can top the Cherry Republic I believe.  Peach pie, which will be made with fresh fruit is next on our list.  <grin>





Last thing for today is one of those chores we’ve been putting off.  We have had the kit to clean Ruby’s headlights for some time and have read several blogs about the great success people have had in this endeavor although I don’t remember if they used the same kit.

The kit





Taped up


      Compound used


Final result.  WOW!



As you can see, the sun is going down and lighting up the rock formations in our view as David works on the gear indictors on my bike.



Turns the indictors are not as easy as the car.   They take two steps to get them clean, the compound and then some abrasive wipes.   They aren’t perfect but at least I can see rather than guess what gear I’m in.






We have company join us.   Our yard and along the river just across from it seem to be favorite hang outs and play spots.  What a great site!








We finish off our day with an absolutely outstanding Ranger talk about the Mountain Lions here in Capitol Reef.  I have sadly forgotten the Ranger’s name but am hoping Gaelyn might remember her.  I believe she came to Capitol Reef from the North Rim of Grand Canyon.  She’s been a ranger for a number of years and has worked in the Everglades and in Missouri and I believe Isle Royale.  She is a short little ball of fire.  She sure does love her Mountain Lions.  She had great slides and did a fantastic presentation.  

Aren’t these creatures beautiful?  I am just over joyed that they can live their own lives here free and without fear of being killed by the fearful or “big game hunters”.    They and the wolves are the most maligned of all the top predators.  Our ecosystem needs its top predators.  Without them everything is out of balance.




We had seen this notice on the camp hosts board.  Apparently earlier this summer,  a cougar was seen chasing a deer through the picnic area that we were in today.   What a thrill it must have been for the person who got some pictures and reported it.   And no we aren’t afraid.  The lion is very busy taking care of the deer population here and has no need to bother with us. 




Can’t wait for tomorrow!


  1. Well, I haven't read your blog post yet but I LOVE CAPITOL REEF NP so I couldn't contain myself when I saw this. Nobody knows about it. We can't wait to go back. I didn't spend much time there, but enough to know what a GEM that place is. OK. Going to read all of this now and take a virtual trip...

  2. WOW... you found the motherload...what a wonderful campground. Fruit, Fawns, Views... amazing!!! I can't wait for tomorrow either:o))

  3. Ahhh you are at my favorite place in the world. I was so happy to see that you did skip Moab and Arches in favor of CR

  4. I think one of the great things about CR is that nobody knows about it. Read the blog, loved it. We want to rent a 4x4 next time we go so we can really get out there and see some stuff. 4 wheeling is one of Angela's favorite things to do. Maybe next year we will make it out there. Glad you are having fun!

  5. Love this park. The hiking is amazing!! Some of our favorite places. You picked the right time with the fruit ready for picking:)

  6. You were there at the perfect time for all of those fruit trees. Good planning!

  7. It looks amazing. I wonder if people who live/work in that area take it for granted. I hope not.

    I have a Stony Point Road mountain lion story. More over ice cream . . ..

  8. We're planning to be there next month for our second visit to Cap Reef. We had a hard time resisting those pies after hiking!

  9. Hey, SLOW DOWN! I am coming to Capitol Reef, but not for another month. I want to share some of that peach pie! ;-)

  10. Oh, wow - what a wonderful looking place! Love that you can harvest organic fruit!! And, those beautiful huge trees. I love those old aprons too... Hope the rest of your stay is as fruitful :)

  11. It's time to cook up some peach butter and pear butter! I did pear butter last year and it was soooo good. Cherry pie is second to peach for me. If you were going to southern Calif. and Anza Borrego State Park, you could zip up to Julian and get yummy pies.

  12. Beautiful photos.
    I'll be anxious to see how the headlight cleaner lasts. I've tried numerous products and they look fine, but then a few weeks later, they are worse than before.

  13. I was there in April. We boondocked on the last road that goes north before you enter the park from the East. Caution needs to be exercised during time of predicted rain as there is a creek and heavy run off (translated flash flood!) There is also boondocking just west of the park that would work better for your beast just as you leave the park on the north.... you can see it off the main road after you leave. Lots of great hiking in the park....we were there when the fruit you are eating was blooming!!! What are your temperatures and weather like?

  14. We also love Capitol Reef -- and Fruita is such a beautiful campground. We were there for apple harvest several years ago, but the peaches were long gone. You hit the motherlode! And now I'm really wanting peach pie….it's my favorite. Please post a photo of your pie. A close-up. ;-) Capitol Reef is definitely on our return-to list.

  15. UT is one of our favorite states to visit. Don't forget to hike the petrified "forest" at Escalante. Or hike to Cow Creek Falls (I hope I still remembered the name). I love how you see everything there is to see when you are parked. My kind of sightseeing!

  16. Capitol Reef is actually my favorite Utah park. It may not be as unique as Bryce, or as popular as Arches, but it's got a charm all it's own.

  17. What a fantastic place! Jackpot all the way around.

  18. We will be heading into that area sometime in October. Will be keeping tabs on your travels. All the commenters seem to like this area very much as well. We did Moab & Arches back in 08 & thought the Arches were great.

  19. I'd first heard of Capitol Reef some years ago. It really is an incredibly beautiful place, and I'd love to visit. What a setting for an orchard, too.

    Your remarks about that bakery remind me of one up in our cottage country that's well known. By noon a lot of things tend to get sold out for the day.

  20. I've been wanting to see Capitol Reef for a long time. One of these days...

  21. Awesome. Beautiful scenery.

  22. Wish I'd known when you were going to be in Capital Reef as I'd have driven up. Haven't been there in over 35 years and it really is time. I do know a Ranger there but not Interpreter so not sure who this was. All the fruit is so tempting. I need some of that cleaning stuff on my truck's headlight covers.
    Where are you now?

  23. We just entered Utah today, Sept 8th, down by Zion/Bryce for the next week. Hate to see our paths pass without being able to say "howdy". Email me at Dave at GoingRvWay.com if you think you are near or will be near. Plan to be in Park City area on weekend of the 20th, then Moab the 22nd-25th, then on to Colorado. --Dave (GoingRvWay.com)

  24. I commented but it disappeared! Love Utah, so so jealous, and cherry pie too.

  25. Gorgeous view from your patio indeed! ohhhh deer in your front yard! I'd be at that bakery by 7:30am … love that kind of place and what a HUGE tree to hug… love it! and the fruit and … oh sigh! another great read, Sherry ;)

  26. Oh, so much to comment on! Capitol Reef is another of my favorite parks. Cannot wait to show George that area. How lucky to have fresh from the tree fruit. Cute fawns, surprised they still have their spots. A 6 year old boy got attacked by a mountain lion this weekend up at one of the county parks near here. Came away with scratches and bites, but is ok none the less. They are beautiful creatures, but still very dangerous.

  27. I wanted to stay overnight at Fruita but when I drove through the park it was raining and there was mud on the roads through the park and warnings of flash floods, I need to go back there someday.

  28. Don't let David eat up all of the peaches. We won't arrive in the area until the 16th. Save a few for us. We look forward to being able to visit a lot of wonderful resources in that area.

  29. Great campsite - Winona looks very happy. I attended a one-room school for 1st-3rd grade and when we started busing to public school it was 40 miles one-way - the setting was not nearly as lovely though. I couldn't have gotten out of that store with just dessert - love handmade and hand-stitched. Cougar is one of my totems so I'm especially glad to see they have such a large protected area there. Looking forward to seeing more of this spectacular location :-))) Oh! - those cottonwoods (also a favorite) are huge!!!

  30. Fruits!! Mmm. I would have LOVED that. And great views and history toi. Great place!!!! Sunsets right from your door. Yes please! :)

  31. What a great view from your camp spot:) I can see it was a big mistake not to visit the park while we were in CO:(

  32. What a view from Winnona! Gorgeous! Love the little fawn- so pretty. It seemed odd to me to have all those fruit trees growing amidst all of the rock formations- something I'm not used to seeing. Glad you got to get some good fruit. "Please, Mr. Boyd, could you leave some fruit for the other visitors@#@!?" You are really in beautiful country. xxxooo

  33. Just the campsite alone it is already a winner.You are living a great life out there, Sherry. love it!

  34. And the Gifford House also has Strawberry-rhubarb pies too. A bakery is a real plus for a campground in my book. Think this is the first and only though so far.

  35. Great pie there for sure, try the pumpkin.

  36. I was shocked that you bought a cherry pie after picking those peaches. Peach pie is the best!


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