Living up to the historic name of Fruita, a town settled by early Mormon pioneers in a beautiful oasis snuggled beneath the red rock cliffs of Capitol Reef National Park, the annual apple harvest is under way.
Unusual for a national park, orchards are maintained by the Park Service and the production is offered for sale to the public. Officials said the crop is one of the best of the park's many fruit varieties. One orchard opened Sept. 21 and another Sept. 28.Park Superintendent Michelle Jackson announced apples will be sold for 50 cents per pound or $12 per bushel. They are on a "you-pick, first-come, first-served basis" and ladders will be provided without charge. Climbing trees is not permitted.
Instructions regarding picking are posted. For more information, call park headquarters at 435-425-3791.
Receipts from fruit sales help defray the costs of maintaining the historic orchards.
"The historic fruit orchards of Capitol Reef are the largest orchards in the entire National Park system and were established around the turn of the century by pioneer residents of Fruita," Jackson said.
The legacy of the Fruita orchards has been kept alive through the efforts of Park Service personnel. Fruit is available to the public at specified times throughout the summer and fall. The orchards produce cherries and apricots in June and July, pears in August and early September, and apples in September and early October.
A sidelight to the harvests is the spectacular flowering blossoms of the trees, which occurs in March for apricots, April for cherries, late March through late April for peaches and pears, and from about April 10 to May 5 for apples.