Orchards

The orchards that lie within a mile or two of the visitor center are evident remnants of the pioneer community of Fruita, settled in 1880. Many varieties of heirloom fruit are found in Capitol Reef's historic orchards.

Read the regulations and look at an orchard map.

 
Ripe apricots on leafy green tree, with a wooden barn, green pasture, red cliffs, and blue sky in the background.
Apricots are one of the first fruits to ripen in the orchards. Imagine what life was like in Fruita in the early 1900s, when much of your family's income came from fruit harvests. Would you look forward to picking fruit, if it was a daily chore?

NPS/ Shauna Cotrell

 
Black and white photo of a smiling man pruning a fruit tree below big cliffs.
'Tine (Valentine) Oyler planted many fruit trees in the fertile Fruita valley.

NPS

History

Latter Day Saint (Mormon) pioneers planted thousands of fruit trees in the fertile Fremont River Valley. From the 1880s to 1960s, these trees provided food and income to the ten or so families who called Fruita home. Apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, pears, and plums dotted each family’s orchards.

Today, the orchards are preserved and protected as part of the Fruita Rural Historic Landscape listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The orchards contain approximately 1,900 trees.

Orchard Management Today

Park staff maintain the historic character of these extensive orchards using heritage techniques. The same flood irrigation ditches pioneers dug in the 1880s water the trees today. Pioneers faced floods and droughts. Today the climate poses challenges for managers. Warmer temperatures may cause trees to bloom early or out of sync with pollinators. These changes could reduce the harvest. The National Park Service maintains the orchards year round with historic cultural irrigation practices, pruning, mowing, pest management, planting, mapping, and grafting. Preserving healthy orchards remains a central goal for Capitol Reef National Park.

 
3 photos: black dog and flowering apricot tree; apple on tree with blue sky and red cliffs in background; two baskets of peaches.
Visitors (and pets on leashes) are welcome to wander through orchards at any time of the year. When fruit is ready to harvest, staff will post "U-Pick Fruit" signs.

Photo 1 (apricot blooms and black dog): NPS/Ann Huston. Photos 2 (apple) & 3 (baskets of peaches): NPS/Jamie Mansfield.

Orchard Regulations

  • Only harvest ripe fruit from orchards that have “U-Pick Fruit” signs.
  • Please do not pick unripe fruit. Posted signs will indicate which type of fruit is available for picking. Fruit is ripe if it easily comes off tree.
  • Fenced orchard hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
  • Unfenced orchard hours: Dawn to dusk.
  • Never climb the trees. Use provided hand pickers and ladders to reach ripe fruit, and return pickers to weigh station when done.
  • Never use hammocks or slacklines in the orchards. Never attach anything to the trees. Fruit trees are easily damaged.
  • Leashed pets are permitted inside the orchards.
  • Do not touch the objects hanging from branches. Pheromone disruptors and traps for insect control should not be handled.
  • Your safety is your responsibility.
All money collected from fruit sales supports the preservation of these historic orchards. Non-payment of orchard fees may result in a citation and fine.
 
Map of 19 orchards in Capitol Reef
Many orchards have multiple varieties of fruit planted in them, originally to provide income throughout the summer and fall for the families of Fruita. Cherries and apricots ripen early, and apples and pears ripen into the fall. Not all orchards will be open for picking at the same time.

NPS

 
Dark-trunked trees covered with pale pink blossoms planted in a line. A fence, road, and red cliffs are in the background.
Apricots in the Gifford Orchard are often covered in pale blossoms in March.

NPS

Range of Flowering and Harvesting Times


Flowering
Cherries: March 31 - April 19
Apricots (early): February 27 - March 20
Apricots (regular): March 7 - April 13
Peaches: March 26 - April 23
Pears: March 31 - May 3
Apples: April 10 - May 6

Harvest
Cherries: June 11 - July 7
Apricots (early): June 27 - July 22
Apricots (regular): June 28 - July 18
Peaches: August 4 - September 6
Pears: August 7 - September 8
Apples: September 4 - October 17

Depending on how cold (or warm) winters are, blossom and harvest times can vary up to a few weeks earlier or later that the ranges given above . For updated fruit blossom and harvest times, call the park's information line at (435) 425-3791. After the introduction, press #1 for visitor information, and then press #5 for the fruit hotline.

Fruit blossom and harvest times will also be updated on the park's Facebook and Twitter feeds.

A PDF of the Fruita Orchard information can be downloaded and printed.

Information on the individual fruit and nut varieties can also be downloaded.

Last updated: October 19, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

HC 70, Box 15
Torrey, UT 84775

Phone:

435-425-3791

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