Our arrival in Torrey Utah last week introduced us early to the outstanding beauty of the area. As you drive down scenic highway 24 you are taken right through 14 miles of Capitol Reef National Park, noted as one of “the best National Parks you’ve never visited”. As if the drive on Hwy 24 wasn’t pretty enough after you get to Hanksville, just before you reach the National Park section there’s a sign that states “Scenic Views next 14 miles”; seriously, like the view wasn’t already scenic??
We stayed at Thousand Lakes RV Park at the west end of Torrey. We’ve read of a few other bloggers staying here when in the area, and we enjoyed this campground as well. While we did not avail ourselves of the myriad of services available here, it was clean, quiet and very friendly. Dry and dusty, but what else can you expect? There area a few patches of grass, though, and a very nice pool if you are so inclined.
Touring Capitol Reef National Park was our first day’s activity. A stop at the Visitor Center gave us the required maps and information needed for not just that day but the next few days.We also watched the short movie which gave a nice overview of the park. We then decided to do the 16 mile long scenic drive, then visit the different overlook areas in the park.
The scenic drive starts out behind the Visitor Center, and goes through part of the Historic Fruita area. Fruita was settled by the Latter-day Saints (Mormons) beginning in 1880. Fruita is situated at the confluence of Sulpher Creek and the Fremont River, both perennial water sources. The mild temperature in the area and the continuous water source made the location ideal for growing fruit trees, of all things. Acres of orchards were planted and thrived, right up to modern times. There are still 15 orchards in the park containing cherry, peach, pear, apple, plum, mulberry, almond and walnut trees. The National Park continues to maintain these orchards, and guests are invited to stroll the orchards and even sample fruit in season.
The Gifford Homestead has been renovated to contain a small museum and gift shop, featuring baked goods of the pioneer era. I can personally attest that the fruit pies (specifically peach) made from the harvest of the orchards are outstanding!!