History & Culture

The area of Capitol Reef has been a homeland to people for thousands of years. Archaic hunters and gatherers migrated through the canyons. The Fremont Culture solidified around 500 CE (Common Era), from food foraging groups, to farmers of corn, beans and squash. Petroglyphs etched in rock walls and painted pictographs remain as sacred remnants of the ancient saga. Explorers, Latter-Day-Saint (Mormon) pioneers, and others arrived in the 1800s, settling in what is now the Fruita Rural Historic District. They planted and nurtured orchards of apples, pears, and peaches. The National Park Service preserves the stories of those who came before.
Photo of old-fashioned school books on old-fashioned desks beside windows.

Hear the perspectives of people connected to Capitol Reef.



  • Coiled basket artifact on blue background.
    Hunters and Gatherers

    From 7,000 - 500 B.C.E., Archaic hunters and gatherers migrated through the canyons hunting game (bighorn sheep, elk, deer, and pronghorn).

  • Petroglyphs of human-like figures in red sandstone.
    Fremont Culture

    Learn about the Fremont Culture, people who lived in modern-day Utah for about one thousand years.

  • Black and white engraving of men, animals, and two large rock pillars.
    Early Explorers

    Early explorers encountered unusual terrain and challenges in the Capitol Reef region.

  • Photo of old, broken wagon in a field.
    Pioneer Settlers

    Pioneers and other settlers arrived in the 1800s, settling in what is now the Fruita Rural Historic District.

  • Black and white photo of a car and a small stone ranger station with giant cliffs above it.
    Park Founders

    Many people supported Capitol Reef becoming a national monument in 1937.

  • Watercolor painting of red cliffs and snow-covered mountain with blue sky.
    Women of Capitol Reef

    Women explorers, pioneers, and artists have all played a role in Capitol Reef. Discover their stories!



  • Wooden boardwalk facing a reddish rock wall, with a circle showing where the images ares.
    Petroglyph Panel

    Visit Fremont Culture petroglyphs and imagine what it was like to live here about 1000 years ago.

  • Black and white photo of canyon with orchards, cliffs, and a river.
    Historic Fruita

    Explore the history of Fruita, established in the 1880s by Latter-Day-Saint pioneers.

  • Visitor picking fruit in an orchard open for picking

    Historic orchards contain about 2,000 trees including cherry, apricot, peach, pear, apple, plum, mulberry, almond, and walnut.

  • Black and white photo of a man standing on the porch of a house.
    Gifford Homestead

    Many people have called the Gifford House home. Learn about these earlier pioneers, and visit the museum and sales outlet, known for pies.

  • Small log cabin-like building with windows and a door, below red rock cliffs and blue sky.
    Fruita Schoolhouse

    What was it like to attend a one-room school? Discover the stories of teachers and students in Fruita.

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    Tags: history

    Last updated: December 20, 2020

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    Contact Info

    Mailing Address:

    HC 70, Box 15
    Torrey, UT 84775


    Recorded park information available 24 hours a day. Phones are answered when staff is available. If no one answers, please leave a message, your call will be returned. Questions may also be sent to care_information@nps.gov.

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