From the top of the Cohab Canyon Trail
's switchbacks lies the most compelling of Fruita's readily accessible vistas.
An old barn anchors your attention in the foreground; in the distance, the 800 foot (244 m) high cliffs rise. To the west in the mid-distance lies Johnson Mesa, named for Fruita's first settler, Nels Johnson. Johnson built his pioneer cabin just across the river and acquired title to most of the arable land in this valley.
The meandering, black Boulder
fences on the slope of Johnson Mesa were built by Calvin Pendleton, a farmer who moved to the valley in the late 1800s. Pendleton, a polygamist, grew fruit and prepared lime for construction purposes in a small kiln near the campground. Subsequent owners of the farmstead were Jorgen Jorgenson and G. Dewey Gifford. Gifford, the last resident of Fruita, lived here for 41 years, leaving in 1968.
At the foot of rocky Johnson Mesa flows the Fremont River
, the key to life and agriculture in Fruita. Only a large stream by eastern standards, the Fremont River supplies water to thousands of historic trees.
A gravity feed irrigation system flood irrigates the park's historic orchards. Water moves through a complicated network of pipes and ditches. The irrigation system remains essentially the same as that of a century ago.
Originating on the Fishlake Plateau to the west, the normally tame Fremont River can rise to floodstage with little warning if heavy rainfall over mountains to the west and the Waterpocket Fold
itself should occur. Serious flooding of the Fremont has occurred in 1937, 1945, 1985 and 2006.
War I house just south of the river was a family residence for more than half a century. Its frame and stucco construction was popular here. The home, known today as the Gifford House, is open to the public daily during the summer season.