Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

Sights to See


You are welcome to stroll in any unlocked orchard and you may consume as much ripe fruit as you want while in the orchards. Fruit may not be picked in quantity until the designated harvest begins. Orchards that are open for picking are signed as such. A fee is charged for all fruit picked and removed from the orchards. Signs listing fruit prices, scales, plastic bags, and a self-pay station are located near the entrance of open orchards. Please select only ripe fruit and leave the rest to ripen for other visitors.

Hand-held fruit pickers and ladders are provided to aid in picking. Never climb the trees to pick fruit! Please read the safety signs located near the orchard entrance before using orchard ladders. Be sure the ladder is on firm, level ground with the third leg fully extended and the chains pulled tight. Do not stand on the top 3 rungs, and avoid leaning to either side when picking. Children should not use ladders unsupervised. Please do not climb trees. The orchards can add much to your Capitol Reef visit...PLEASE THINK SAFETY...AND ENJOY THEM!

  Cherries   3/31 - 4/19   6/11 - 7/7
  Apricots (early)   2/27 - 3/20   6/27 - 7/22
  Apricots (regular)   3/7 - 4/13   6/28 - 7/18
  Peaches   3/26 - 4/23   8/4 - 9/6
  Pears   3/31 - 5/3   8/7 - 9/8
  Apples   4/10 - 5/6  

Gifford Farm

The Capitol Reef Natural History Association, in cooperation with the National Park Service, has renovated and refurnished the Gifford farmhouse as a cultural demonstration site to interpret the early Mormon settlement of the Fruita valley. The house depicts the typical spartan nature of rural Utah farm homes of the early 1900's. In addition to the farmhouse, the Gifford homestead includes a barn, smokehouse, garden, pasture, and rock walls.

Residents and Improvements

The original home was built in 1908 by polygamist Calvin Pendleton. He and his family occupied it for eight years. The original house had a combined front room/kitchen and two small bedrooms. An outside ladder accessed two upstairs bedrooms. Pendleton also constructed the barn and smokehouse, as well as the rock walls near the house and on the mesa slopes above it.

The second residents of the home were the Jorgen Jorgenson family who resided here from 1916 to 1928. Jorgenson sold the homestead to his son-in- law, Dewey Gifford, in 1928.

The Gifford family occupied the home for 41 years (1928 to 1969). Gifford added a kitchen in 1946 and the bathroom, utility room, and carport in 1954.

Life On the Farm

The Giffords raised dairy cows, hogs, and sheep, as well as chickens and ducks. They also ran cattle in the South Desert. They used the smokehouse to preserve meat for their own use and for sale. Dewey Gifford also worked for the State Road Department and later for the National Park Service, to supplement his farm income.

The family ate whatever they raised. The garden produced a variety of vegetables including potatoes, beans, peas, squash, lettuce, radishes, corn, and watermelons. The family also had orchards and grew sorghum. They preserved fruit and vegetables for later use by bottling or drying. Bottled foods were stored in the cellar below the front of the house. Dry goods, such as potatoes, were kept in the root cellar on the back side of the house.

Water was carried to the house from the Fremont River and was used untreated. A two-hole outhouse served the family until an indoor bathroom and plumbing was installed in later years. The house received electricity in 1948.

The Giffords frequently got together with other Fruita residents, especially the Chesnut and Mulford families, for suppers, singing, games, cards, baseball, reading, and quilting. The families were good friends and helpers to each other - an important relationship in a small isolated community like Fruita.

The Giffords were the last residents of Fruita. Dewey Gifford sold his home and land to the National Park Service in 1969 and moved away. With the Giffords' departure, the story of Fruita as a farming community came to a close. Today, the pioneer spirit of Fruita can be experienced by exploring the Fruita rural cultural landscape and by visiting the Gifford Homestead.

Location and Sales Outlet

The former kitchen (a non-historic addition to the original house) has been converted into a Natural History Association sales outlet. Items for sale include reproduction utensils and household tools used by Mormon pioneers in their daily tasks. These unique handmade items are made by local artisans and craftsmen and include such things as butter churns, flour sifters, rag dolls, quilts, aprons, woven rugs, soap, crockery, candles and toys. A wide selection of books, historic postcards, jams, jellies and dried fruit, as well as locally baked fruit pies and homemade ice cream, are available.

The Gifford Homestead is located 1 mile south of the visitor center on the Scenic Drive and is open during the summer season. A small parking lot is adjacent to the Gifford yard. Parking for oversized vehicles is available at the picnic area. Follow the signs and trail from the picnic area approximately 1/8 mile to the house.

(*Wallace and Page Stegner, American Places, photographs by Eliot Porter, John Macrea, III, editor (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1981), 122.)