The second major stop that we'd planned for our 25th anniversary road trip was Capitol Reef National Park in Utah. We've been to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. We fell so in love with Zion that we kept going back there...sometimes a couple times a year. We decided it was time to start visiting Utah's other National Parks. Capitol Reef was going to be our third of the five parks.
Our drive from the North Rim of Grand Canyon went through gorgeous scenery and lots of rain. We pulled into the very small town of Torrey, Utah in the afternoon. It's the closest town to Capitol Reef and has three RV parks. We hadn't made reservations at any of them and all three were full. The campground in the National Park was first come/first serve only. We headed over there next. We were hopeful but I was in a mind set that we'd find a place somewhere and was excited to see where. Sense of adventure! Luckily, there were a few spots left that day in the National Park and we got one of them.
We really had no idea what to expect at Capitol Reef but we were in for so many surprises and a wonderful, relaxing, delightful, beautiful, delicious, informative, adventurous, amazing week!
In case you might be wondering, Capitol Reef is in the center of the southern part of Utah. It's about a two and a half hour drive from Bryce and a three and a half hour drive from Zion. It's pretty much in the middle of nowhere.
It has a visitor center with rangers that are happy and willing to answer all our questions, a little shop, lost and found, and a tiny theatre with a film that plays regularly, telling about Capitol Reef.
Even though the park is so far out of the way and uncrowded the visitor center seemed to always be bustling with people. So, a photo of just the building was out of the question. But, with views like this, no one could resist taking photos! This was a rare moment that I was able to get a photo with just a couple of people. Pretty cute how she's taking a photo of him and how he's posing.
The huge, red, sandstone rocks were very much like Zion.
We loved that!
We could see them from the campground in two different directions. Here's are some views of the road going into the campground and some of those huge rocks...
The campground was beautiful! It was grassy and green with big shady trees and the spaces were far apart. There aren't any hookups but there's water in the park, a dump station, very clean and nice restrooms and each site has a parking area that's paved and level. It's only $10 per night!
The deer roamed through the park every day and we could hear the nearby river flowing.
It was peaceful and beautiful and we couldn't have had better weather! It was sunny, in the 70's to 80's each day and night time temps were in the 50's. Gorgeous!
I loved the view looking up from my folding lounge chair!
Beautiful trees and such an amazing blue sky!
We had absolutely no phone signal when we were in the park. However, the rangers told us that we likely could get a signal at Panorama Point, just a few minutes west of the visitor center. They were right. Here's the amazing view we had whenever we went to call and check in with our daughter...
On the first full day of our stay, we drove up into the park.
This is the view looking back down...
Up at the end of the drive and in the parking and rest areas were some painters.
I'm not sure but it seemed like there was a class going on here...
There was a painter further out on the dirt road. I love this photo and how the easel in the bottom right looks so tiny next to those massive rocks.
We saw SO many wildflowers on this trip and SO many of them couldn't be photographed as they were along the roadsides. We literally drove through hundreds of miles of golden, flower lined, highways. It was spectacular! This drive into the park, however, allowed me to pull over often and take pictures.
Here are just a few of the wildflowers at Capitol Reef National Park...
This is a close up of the teenie tiny flowers in the photo above. Amazing!
These crazy looking pods popped open a few days later and cottony, fluffy seeds came flowing out.
This is Rabbitbrush is such a tiny sample of the millions of golden bushes of it that we saw on our trip. We realized that Monsoon season is really Spring for this part of the country. Utah and Arizona were exploding with brilliant, beautiful flowers, lush green grasses that carpeted the desert floor, very happy and green trees, and flowing creeks and rivers. It added so much more WOW to our trip!
These look like tiny roses and I think they're so beautiful!
I've never seen this plant. It had very few leaves and grew long strands of these tiny flowers.
I only saw this once. It was growing by the river. Looks like tiny beans.
The visitor center and campground are set right in the middle of the Fruita Historic District. It's an old settlement with orchards and a few historical buildings. One of those buildings is the Gifford House. They've turned it into a museum and store.
In the front yard is the old smoke house.
They open early every morning with fresh baked pies.
They sell many different canned jams, jellies, pickles, etc.
They also sell handcrafted items like embroidered pillows, candles
quilted pot holders,these rolling pins, and more.
They had about half a dozen flavors of pie. We enjoyed the apple pie a couple of times. It was so good! Probably the best apple pie I've ever had. It was perfectly seasoned and not too sweet, the texture of the apples was perfect, the crust was great (I'm not usually a crust fan), and it had a sprinkling of sweet crumbs on top like a Dutch apple pie. They also sold several kinds of Scottish Scones that were baked locally. We tried the cranberry and pumpkin flavors. Both were good but I think the pumpkin was my favorite. They're very different than scones I'm used to. They're much more dense, bread like, heavy, and not quite as sweet. We enjoyed them!
There was a crab apple tree out in the front of Gifford house that was loaded with fruit.
There were so many that, from a distance, I thought it was cherries!
There is a path that runs from the campground, along the river, to the Gifford House, through the park, past the blacksmith barn and orchards and to the visitor center. Here it is going through the park...
We saw the biggest Cottonwood trees there that we'd ever seen in our lives!
The deer were always roaming through...
One afternoon we caught a glimpse of some turkeys...
From the park, there's a bridge over a river that leads to one of the orchards...
They grow apples and pears there. I think they grow peaches too but we didn't see any. The fruit is free to eat while you're in the orchard and only $1.25 per pound (self-serve) for whatever you take out. The fruit was SO delicious! Especially the pears. They were better than any pears we've ever eaten! So, sweet, juicy and flavorful!
There were deer in the orchards almost every time we visited or drove by. They didn't seem to be eating the fruit, just the grasses. And, they seemed to really enjoy being there. Here's one lounging under an apple tree...
We enjoyed the orchards so much that we made sure to visit every day during our stay.
They were so beautiful and peaceful that I could have stayed all day.
Across the highway but still in the park and the Fruita Historic District is the old Fruita schoolhouse.
It's tiny and very well preserved.
Here are some photos I took through the windows...
Whenever we walked back to camp from the orchards or drove back from a day trip, this is the scenery we saw in the heart of the historic area and near the campground. It's so pretty! And, I love the old barn!
Not only did we have no phone signal but there were no real grocery stores or much of anything else. That didn't prevent me from having my vanilla lattes! I got really good at making them over this trip by using my Moka pot in the trailer with hot almond milk and vanilla simple syrup I'd made at home. Yum!
I posted this one day on Instagram...
Those Scottish scones were delicious with my coffee!
On one of the nights that we were there, we walked over to a star talk lead by a park volunteer. He had a telescope with him and we got to see Saturn, various constellations, and the moon. We learned so much and it was amazing what we saw through the telescope!
This stop truly was a surprise and a treat! We absolutely loved visiting Capitol Reef and enjoyed our stay so much that we look forward to going back there again someday. This post, however, is only one part of our visit to Capitol Reef. We saw a couple more things there that deserve a post all their own. So, stay tuned for more! I'll keep sorting through photos and getting these posts up as soon as I can. :-D