Fruita – The Best Place In Capitol Reef!

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WHAT IS FRUITA???

We stayed in a campground in Capitol Reef called Fruita.  It was spectacular! The pioneers settled the area and planted orchards everywhere.  There are over 3,000 trees- cherry, apricot, peach, pear, apple, plum, mulberry, almond, and walnut. And when you camp there you can pick whatever is in season- for free! We arrived during cherry season and the beginning of early apricot season.  We found out that a late frost had ruined the cherry crop (I can relate- we don’t have a single peach growing on our peach tree this year) and that the frost pushed back the apricot season two weeks.  No fruit, but this is seriously the most beautiful place we have ever camped. EVER.  Trees everywhere.  The ranger hung out at our campground for a little while and was telling the kids that we need to come back in September because the peaches will be ripe and as big as baseballs and the best thing we’ll ever taste.  The kids are already begging to go back for those peaches.

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The tricky part about camping here is that you can’t make reservations.  It’s a little nerve-wracking to make a 3 hour drive and not know if you’ll get a spot.  We read online that the best thing to do is drive into the campground in the morning and grab a spot as other campers are checking out.  It totally worked, although I don’t think July is their peak season.  If we really do come back in September it will really take driving off at 6:30am to get that spot 🙂

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Because of the 100* temperatures we kept two coolers full of drinks, kicked back in our chairs and read (Cayden) or worked on the Jr. Ranger program (everyone else).  This program was so much fun! I’ve always dismissed them everywhere else (thinking, “I can keep my kids entertained in Arches, thank you!”) but Dylan and Jackson especially got into it.  They had a booklet to work on, interviewed a Ranger, went to a geology workshop and got a really cool badge for completing the program.  We plan to make a flag for the kids to put their badges and patches on and to collect them from all of the National Parks that we go through!  We are on the Junior Ranger bandwagon!

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I was surprised that we got a picture of Megan sitting down.  She explored everything…..

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…. and especially loved the little bridge by our campsite.

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Megan and Alison exploring.  You can see our tent trailer (on the left) and our tent (just to the left of the little bridge).

WHAT CAN YOU DO WHEN IT’S THIS HOT? REALLY….

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I’m a sucker for petroglyphs.  I had to see it! We ended up going the really, really, really long way (all walking, both ways) from the Ranger’s instructions, but found that we could have just driven there.  I enjoy tangible connections to history.  Even with my own family- I prize the pictures, handwriting, stories- anything to cement that memory or connection.

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We were at the nature center for most of our first afternoon.  They had so many things to do for the kids and it was air-conditioned! I should say most kids were there for the afternoon.  I spent the afternoon shuttling kids to the bathroom (located at a nearby park) and driving one particular child back to the campsite to change clothes.  Cayden came with me, enjoyed bonus drinks and snacks at the campground while I changed a little girl, and we discovered the biggest, knottiest tree!

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I asked the Ranger at the Information Center what kind of hike we could do with the kids in this kind of heat.  Without a pause he gave us directions to the Sulfer Creek Trail.  You hike the riverbed through ankle-deep water until you get the the first of three waterfalls.  You get over the first waterfall and just sit and splash in the water, have a picnic and stay cool, and then keep going up the river to the next waterfall, and then up again to the third.  The kids were so excited- it was a guaranteed adventure.

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Alas, no ankle deep water except in wet spots and after a mile of hiking we came to a completely dried up waterfall.  It was much steeper than I thought it would be- I’m not sure how I would have hoisted Megan or Alison up the 8 foot waterfall while it was dried up, much less doing it in the middle of a waterfall – so it actually worked out for the best to make that a spot to turn around instead.

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The hike was very shady with enough wet puddles and small streams to feel cool. This was Dylan’s favorite spot.  As we were hiking back he asked if he would have a chance to play there on the way back.  I told him no because we were ready to get back to camp.  Just after this conversation I fell hard (some areas we were just climbing through were boulder fields) and my camera bounced off a rock.  As I was picking myself up and worrying about my camera, Dylan disappeared.  As in totally gone.  5 minutes of distraction and he was nowhere to be found.  He’s one to wonder around- up and down rocks and bouncing everywhere- but he’s generally close by.  Matt started backtracking, Cayden and Ashlyn started hiking ahead quickly thinking he’d gone ahead and not realized we’d stopped, and I stayed in place with Jackson and Alison.  Time kept going, you start thinking of the worst- lost in the desert in 100* heat, he’s not answering anyone- maybe he fell and can’t answer, and there is nothing, absolutely nothing. I started moving forward because I’m realizing that Cayden and Ashlyn are so far ahead they can’t hear us already but after awhile I realize no one can hear me.  Matt’s so far behind searching, Cayden and Ashlyn are too far ahead searching- and no matter who I’m calling there is no answer.  We prayed every day, every meal for safety on this trip and I just knew that everything had to be fine. But I could feel panic setting in.  I sat down and waited for Matt to hike forward and tell me he’d found Dylan messing around in some rocks or for Cayden and Ashlyn to hike back and tell me that Dylan had just gone ahead and hadn’t realized I’d fallen.  Nothing.  Finally Matt came forward with two other hikers- no Dylan.  My heart sank.  Just as we started making new plans, Ashlyn came back- they’d found Dylan. He’d raced ahead to that favorite boulder spot (very, very far ahead) so that he could play until we caught up.  It wasn’t until I held him that it hit me and I had to cry- well, the teary eyes that moms get when they don’t want to have a complete breakdown- and Dylan got the biggest “talking-to” in his career of “talking-to”s. It made sense in his little 7 year old reasoning, but it is not safe or acceptable and we are just so grateful that this story has a happy ending…

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Ashlyn and Alison!

Alison hiked almost the whole way and drank from her camelback the whole camping trip.  She was probably the most hydrated Lund in the group.  She felt so grown up!

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In the evenings we went wading.  We checked out a Family Backpack from the nature center- which was pretty awesome because it came stocked with magnifying glasses, binoculars, pioneer games, bird identification books… and a net for catching little things in the water!

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These nets made it so fun! We attracted a crowd of children who all took turns with the nets! This inspired us to start putting together a Family Backpack for ourselves because it was so fun to have the gear to explore!

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Ashlyn ended up catching two little fish!

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I didn’t let Alison get in the water.  She had a good time exploring from the side though!

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This was Dylan’s only venture into the water because of a small snake sighting in the grass.  It was moving so quickly though and it really scared him- I don’t blame him! We stuck to the non-grassy areas after that, but as much as Dylan wanted to go again, he just couldn’t do it.

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Every night the kids walked through the orchards to the amphitheater. It seemed like we always did it in the evening when it was dinnertime but no one wanted to cook dinner or eat- it was just too hot.

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This was a shady retreat and we had it all to ourselves…

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The kids put on magic shows every night- just our family.  I had no idea we were so theatrical! They were complete clowns!

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Dylan loved to make people appear out of nowhere and had a system in place for his “volunteers from the audience” to follow.

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Even Cayden hammed it up!

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I think these nights were my favorite part of the trip- goofy, relaxing family time.

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And really, goofy family time is the kind that builds memories.

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One response »

  1. It really sounds like a magical place! And it sounds like it was some great family time!! I love that the kids put on shows – I think it’s so important to be silly like that.

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