Plums, pears and apples available to park visitors
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The famed national parks in Utah’s red rock country generally conjure up visions of lizards basking on sun-baked rocks, sandstone arches and gnarled juniper trees, but some of the parks have a softer side.
Capitol Reef National Park, for example, is home to the largest historic orchards in the national park system, encompassing more than 3,000 fruit and nut trees planted by early Mormon pioneers and settlers in the 1800s in what is now the historic Fruita rural historic district.
But agriculture in the area goes back thousands of years, when nomadic indigenous people became semi-settled in the area, supplementing foraged food sources with plantations of corn, beans and squash. Petroglyphs and pictographs on Capitol Reef’s rock walls stand testament to the saga of the Fremont culture.
Travelers today can get a taste of that history, as the plum, pear and apple harvest starts in the historic orchards. All the fruits are available for $1 a pound.
Plums were available starting Friday, July 13 at the Tine Oyler and Mott Orchards. Since there are only a few plum trees the park anticipates the supply will last no longer than one to two days.
The Mott Orchard is located across the Scenic Drive, just beyond the visitor center. The Tine Oyler orchard is located east of the visitor center on Highway 24.
Pears and apples will be available starting Tuesday, July 17 at the Johnson Orchard. The orchard will be open between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. while fruit is available. The Johnson Orchard is located on the scenic drive next to the picnic area.
Additional fruit harvest information is recorded on the Capitol Reef Fruit Hotline as fruit ripens and specific harvest start dates are determined: (435) 425-3791. Once the park number connects, press one for general information and, at the voice prompt for the orchard hotline, press five.
Climbing fruit trees is not permitted in the park. The National Park Service provides special fruit picking ladders. Use care when picking fruit and carefully read and follow posted instructions on fruit picking and ladder use.
Capitol Reef National Park uses the receipts from fruit sales to defray the cost of maintaining the orchards. The historic Fruita orchards are among the largest in the National Park System and were established beginning in the 1880s by pioneer residents of Fruita.