Fruita (froo-tuh) is a cool, green oasis, where shade-giving cottonwoods and fruit-bearing trees line the Fremont River's banks. The first Mormon homesteaders arrived here in 1879; Fruita's final resident left in 1969. Among the historic buildings, the NPS maintains 3000 cherry, apricot, peach, pear and apple trees planted by early settlers. Visit between June and October to pluck ripe fruit from the trees, for free, from any unlocked orchard. Pick only mature fruit; leave the rest to ripen.
Near the orchards is a wonderful picnic area, with roaming deer and birds in the trees – a desert rarity. Across the road from the blacksmith shop (just a shed with period equipment) is the Ripple Rock Nature Center, a family-oriented learning center. The Gifford Homestead is an old homestead museum where you can also buy ice cream, Scottish scones or salsas and preserves made from the orchard fruit. Don't skip purchasing one of its famous pies – up to 13 dozen are sold daily (and they usually run out!).