The Mighty Five are Utah’s triumphant quintet of National Parks, and I’m excited to have finally been to them all! Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce and Zion shout with blazing colors and wild rock formations. But Capitol Reef–the last stop on our honeymoon road trip– whispers. It makes you lean in and take a closer look.

Pretty foliage

Once upon a time, Capitol Reef was home to Mormon settlers, and the orchards they planted are still bearing fruit to this day. These orchards were so prosperous, that the town is even called Fruita. The park is full of small, man made wonders. The one room schoolhouse still stands, a few homesteads are sprinkled throughout the park and the wonderful little museum gives you a glimpse into pioneer life–as well as a bite of amazing pie.

Good fences make good neighbors.

The campgrounds are picturesque–deer meander through the meadows and orchards. In the spring and summer, the trees are heavy with a variety of fruit, and visitors are free to pick whatever they’d like! I was sad that we missed the picking season, but it was a nice quiet end to what had been a dramatic and exhausting trip.

Uranium mines

The past lingers within the park, more so than many other parks I’ve been to. The homesteads still stand, the orchards still grow, and even the voices of the pioneers live on. At many of this historical landmarks, you can listen to a recording of a voice of a settler and hear their perspective on life in Fruita. It’s hard to imagine the life they led, just a few handful of families eking out an existence in a difficult landscape.

Old homestead

These little hints of the past drew me further into the park. It forged an intimacy which I haven’t found as much in other places. Perhaps they are on too grand a scale. The vestiges of human elements in Capitol Reef–and that the history was so recent–made it easier for me to imagine living here.


Here people tilled the earth and planted trees. And those hundred year old trees still feed people who come to enjoy the beauty of Capitol Reef.