OTBP: Capitol Reef National Park

Off the Beaten Path: Capitol Reef National Park

Patti and Tom Burkett

Utah is legend for the sights you can see there—arches, hoodoos, swirling stone landscapes, cliffs and canyons.

Visit in season and you’ll definitely be on the beaten path.

But there are places even here that most people never see.

Far from the interstate you’ll find Capitol Reef National Park (see interactive map below). This park is, at most, often a drive-through on the trip between Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. It has its own charms, though, well worth the time it takes to stop and smell the baked goods.  Near the center of the park is the town of Fruita, right along the beautiful Fremont River, and is home to one of a surprising number of orchards maintained by the National Park Service.

The orchards at Fruita grow apples and apricots, pears and a variety of berries. You can see the harvest seasons throughout the year by clicking here.

This was a serendipitously fertile area in a pretty barren landscape when it was settled by Mormons 100 years ago. You’re welcome to walk through the fruit trees. If fruit is in season, feel free to pick what you can eat.

A nearby historic bake shop turns the produce into pies and jams for you to stick in your RV cupboard. There’s freshly-baked bread, too. Right next door is a tree-shaded campground with direct access to the riverside paths and the orchard walks.

You may not know that the NPS takes responsibility for quite a few fruit trees, all across the continent.  In the northeast there are orchards in Massachusetts and in the Delaware Water Gap.  You’ll find them on the Blue Ridge Parkway and in the Smokies, on Manitou Island in Sleeping Bear Dunes, and at the Japanese-American internment camp in Manzanar, California.  You can even pick olives in a historic grove at John Muir’s gravesite.





  • bobpalin

    “This park is, at most, often a drive-through on the trip between Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. ”

    You have an unusual road map! 😎