I know many of you are still buried in winter, and I don’t mean to rub it in, but except for a day here and there we’ve been experiencing spring-like conditions since January. This is kind of good (yay! Spring!) and also really really scary (WHAT HAPPENED TO THE SNOW?!?!). I imagine our wildfire season will be worse than your snow season, so don’t throw stones at me quite yet.
That being said, last weekend while I was taking the very long way home from a weekend with my sweetheart, I kind of accidentally stumbled upon one of the most beautiful places I didn’t know existed; the fruit orchards of Capitol Reef National Park. Okay, I guess technically I did know they were there, but I did not realize how stunningly beautiful they would turn out to be. Mormon pioneers settled in Capitol Reef about 150 years ago, and they planted hundreds of fruit trees which in addition to a few houses and a school are all that remain.
The park rangers cultivate the trees and sell the fruit by the bushel or in overpriced fruit pies, and that is all fine and good, but in researching this park what I most wanted was to happen to be there when the orchards were in bloom. The image of rows of trees smothered in creamy pink blossoms sitting like a candied cloud at the base of towering red rock cliffs has been haunting my dreams for months.
When I found myself kind of in the area (meaning, if I drove 130 miles out of my way I would be “in the area”) I was immediately stunned by the gorgeous cliffs striped with red and orange, black and purple, creamy white and green. There are a few small stands of trees along the road through the park, I stopped at took pictures at all of them but was a little disappointed that most were just starting to bud and not yet in full bloom. I stopped at the Visitor Center to inquire if there were additional orchards, where they were, and if any of them were current in blossom.
The ranger gave me directions to the upper campground, located on Loop C, and told me a grove of 200 apricot trees were in full bloom a day or two before and he hadn’t been back since. I thanked him and headed that way, desperately hoping that there would still be a few petals on the trees.
I rounded a curve and was gobsmacked by rows and rows of trees just losing their white blossoms; I parked my car and as soon as I opened the door I could smell the sweet perfume from these trees and hear the bees. Kids were scampering through the orchard, a couple of people were having a picnic, some guy was taking a nap leaning against a trunk; it was magical.
I wish I had driven through the day before, many of the trees were gray-ish pink and has lost most of their white flowers, but I still walked through that orchard for almost two hours just reveling in the spring, the blossoms, the intoxicating aroma, and the red sandstone cliffs soaring overhead.
I need to go back to Capitol Reef, not only to explore a little more and do some hiking, but hopefully to spend a few nights in the campground adjacent to the apricot orchard. Honestly, this is the kind of place made of the stuff of dreams.
This place is high up on our list of places to visit. We’ve already got this summer’s road trip planned out, and we’re thinking of doing a mostly-Utah road trip next summer, including Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef, since neither of us have been to either park. Your post makes me think we should try Capitol Reef during spring break instead of summer just so we can see some blossoms.
I’m sure it would be gorgeous in the summer, and when the fruit is ripe they sell it to visitors. I can hardly imagine how dreamy it would be to have all that shade while camping!
I loved Bryce as well, such a stunning place!
On Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 8:38 AM, Feisty Harriet wrote:
I wonder if they have a blog where they update when it looks like the trees will be in full bloom. Now that you know approximately when they’ll be in bloom, you could check daily (or call daily, I guess) and hop in your car ON THE DAY to ensure you don’t miss out. Then again, you could just go camping for a week to enjoy the magic, too. =)
I wondered about that too, actually. And as I was looking for photos a few weeks ago online there are very few of them at all (that were tagged in a way they would pop up in my search), there also aren’t a ton of pics on instagram of the orchards at Capitol Reef. Granted, they are only in bloom for a few days a year and the rest of the year it is crazy red rock hiking that the park is known for, but still. It was surprising.
Even at the visitors center when I asked if there were any orchards in bloom the ranger told me about this apricot one that had started blooming a few days earlier, but he hadn’t been there since. So, i headed out there hoping for the best and was duly rewarded. 🙂
On Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 12:04 PM, Feisty Harriet wrote:
Now I’m sad we went to Escalante National Monument this weekend instead of Capitol Reef. Although the slot canyons were impossibly beautiful, too, so I’ll just add the orchards to my bucket list and call it good.
Add them!! So, so gorgeous! I would love to just spend a week camping in that apricot orchard while the flowers are in full swing!
On Tue, Mar 31, 2015 at 10:45 AM, Feisty Harriet wrote:
It’s so pretty. We have been there in 2009 and I really enjoyed it a lot!
I didn’t really know what to expect and was blown away by how gorgeous it is! I can’t wait to go back and explore some more!
Pingback: Best of 2015 | Feisty Harriet