Friday, January 13, 2012

Capitol Reef National Park - The Gifford House in historic Fruita

The Gifford house now functions as a gift shop/museum.

As you drive into the Fruita historic district at Capitol Reef National Park, make time to stop at the Gifford house.  The original home was built by Calvin Pendleton in 1908.  The Jorgen Jorgenson family then lived there from 1916 until 1928, when Mr. Jorgenson sold the home to his son-in-law, Dewey Gifford.

Inside the Gifford farmhouse

The interior of the building now serves as a museum with furnished rooms on display.  A central display case also contains photos and histories of the early residents.

Bedroom in the home.

The homestead site today consists of the Gifford home, and some outbuildings. Nearby are fields with horses, fruit orchards, and a picnic area.  This is a pleasant area in the park, and seemed very peaceful after sharing the petroglyph view area with a large crowd of tourists from several tour buses. 

Food from the Gifford store.

After exploring the interior of the home, we purchased food to supplement our picnic lunch, and to take home and savor later.  We chose apple butter, two flavors of salsa, both savory and sweet scones, fruit syrup, and a berry pie.  The shop area is small, but it is fun to browse the shelves of treats.

Picnic site in Fruita

We were eager to try our treats, so we headed across the street and backtracked a bit to the picnic area we had passed on our way to the store.  There is ample parking at the site, and tables on the lawn under mature trees.  It is a beautiful picnic spot.  We even had lunch time entertainment when some wild turkeys decided to wander through.

Wild turkeys in Fruita

We visited Fruita as apple season was winding down.  There are cherry, peach, and apple trees in the park.  Orchards are being replanted so that eventually, trees will be grouped together in orchards by type.  Right now, regulations allow you to pick the amount of fruit you can eat at no charge.  If you wish to take more (i.e., some to take home with you), you will need to pay.  During the season, you may pick larger quantities of fruit, weigh your box or bag of produce, and pay for it at the pay stations.  Stepladders are in the orchard for your convenience.  I am glad the orchards have been preserved and are part of the park experience!

Orchard in Fruita

A few years ago, my husband did a painting entitled "Crimson Harvest" that is set in the apple orchards of Fruita.  It was really fun to visit the area he had painted, and to see these wonderful locations.

"Crimson Harvest" - acrylic painting by Greg Newbold

If you visit Capitol Reef, I recommend taking some time to get a feel for historic Fruita.  To get to the Gifford house, turn south off of highway 24 to the Visitor's Center.  Continue on this road (the Scenic Drive), until you get to the Gifford house.  It is on the west side of the road.  There are a few picnic tables near the parking area if you wish to eat a treat on site.  We went back to the picnic area on the east side of the road.  We did not continue down the Scenic Drive, but returned to highway 24 and drove on through the park.  You can access the Grand Wash trail from the Scenic Drive side, or from Highway 24.  After talking to a ranger at the Visitor's Center, we opted to hike part of the Grand Wash trail from the Highway 24 end.

More of our visit to Capitol Reef:

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