Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Hickman Bridge and Fruita Historic District

Sand Creek RV Park
Torrey, UT
July 2, 2019

Capital Reef National Park has been on the bucket list for awhile so when planning our summer vacation, we decided to make it the first stop.  It was a gorgeous drive form Moab.

West on I-70...

 West on Hwy 24...

 and finally West Hwy 24 through Capital Reef on the way to Torrey.
 We are all settled in at Sand Creek RV Park...a good choice if you have puppies that need their space too !  It's a small park with only 15 pull-thru RV spaces (full-hookup) and a few tent sites.  The owners Harry and Leslie are super nice and the Wi-Fi is wicked fast.  The weather forecast for our week long stay is perfect with lows 50s and high 70s/low 80s.   

Last night we had a torrential down pour complete with thunder and lightening.  It lasted for about 2 hours (6:00 -8:00 ish)  and then the sun came out.  We had a very colorful sunset...looking out the front cab window. 

CapitalReef National Park :
 Capital Reef NP was designated a national monument in 1937 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to protect the areas colorful canyons, ridges, buttes, and monoliths.  But it was not until 1950 that the area was opened to the public.  And in 1971 it was opened as a national park.  The area has a long history of people visiting and living in the region along the Fremont River.  Over 1000 years ago the Fremont Indians irrigated crops of corn and grain here. The Mormans then settled here in the 1880s.  
Evidence of Fremont Indians who lived in the area...

Evidence of Hobi Indians who lived in the area...

 Fruita Historic District :

When the Morman settlers moved into the area along the Fremont River, the irrigation ditches created by the Fremont Indians were once again a vital source of water for farming.  Fruit trees prospered and by 1902, the small settlement was called Fruita.  Today, these orchards...nearly 3,000 trees, dominate the "historic landscape" and the 200 acre Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.   
Apple, peach, cherry, apricot, pear, and plum, trees along with mulberry, almonds, and walnut trees grow in here.  

 It wasn't until World War II that the first tractor was purchased by Merlin Smith. 

The Power Horse...a 4-wheel drive machine made in Salt Lake City was the first tractor in Fruita.

The Blacksmith Shop
 The restored structures,  Blacksmith Shop, the Gifford house and barn, the Schoolhouse and a few others are the only structures that remain.

The Gifford farmhouse has been renovated and refurnished as a cultural demonstration site to interpret the early Morman settlement.  It was originally built in 1908.  It was purchased by Dewey Gifford in 1928.  His family lived there 41 years and during that time he added a kitchen in 1946 and the bathroom, utility room and a carport in 1954.  

 The former kitchen has been converted into a Natural History Association sales outlet.  Items for sale include reproduction utensils and household tools used by Morman pioneers.  These unique handmade items are made by local artisans and craftsmen and include aprons, flour sifters, crockery, and candles.  But the best (and yummiest) are the locally baked fruit pies, breads, cinnamon rolls and homemade ice cream.  It was a tuff decision, but we settled on a cinnamon roll we shared for lunch ! 
 The outhouse, barn and a wagon on the Gifford farm.

One last thing from the historic district which just happens to be my favorite were the Silent Sentinels.  

Local knowledge states that starting in 1918, the large tree by the road (there are two of these magnificent cottonwood trees) was the place where mail was transferred from a carrier in Torrey to another carrier who completed the route.   This tree was given the name Mail Tree. 

Later, mailboxes were attached to the tree giving settlers a convenient location from which to maintain contact with the outside world. 
Pictures do not show the "enormousness" of these trees nor their beauty.  

Hickman Bridge :

It was early to bed and early to rise this morning...a chilly 50 degrees and a chilly wind, were no deterrent for our day's adventure.  Our first destination for the day was the Hickman Bridge Trailhead.  It's a moderate rated 2.2 mile in and out hike.  
The moderate rating is due to steep inclines in places with high steps.

There is also a trail map that points out 17 key features along the trail.  Ex. :  These black boulders are the same andesite lava that caps the mountains west of the park.  

They were transported, and rounded in the process, by large debris flows associated with melting glaciers.

Another example : The white Navajo Sandstone in the rock formation pictured below was deposited as sand dunes about 180 million years ago.  Amazing !  

 Hickman Bridge is a natural bridge that is 133 feet long and 125 feet high.  The trail loops under the bridge for an up close look and a bit of shade.  
Approaching the bridge...

And a look back after passing under...

Well, that wraps up our first day adventures in Capital Reef. We have lots more planned so stay tuned !

I'll close with a few more pictures...

So, until next time...



  1. On my bucket list already, just have to get there.

  2. This park has so much to offer. We have been there at least four times for a week to ten days and I still have trails to do. We were actually there for apple/pear picking last time. I believe they were picking apricots. Are they still picking them? Glad you discovered the Gifford House. We love the pies. Have fun at my favorite Utah park.

  3. Dang spammers! Love Capital Reef--your photos are great!

  4. It's has been a long time ago that we were there. Thank you for taking me back to one of the gem of the Utah 5! We must have missed the Hickman Bridge for I don't recall being there. But oh you have lots of amazing scenery to explore where Pearl will have no issues to tackle! - ML

  5. Lovely shots of a beautiful place Gay!