Corbitt's National Parks
     Pipe Spring
                National Monument


1923: National Monument

Size: 40 acres

2008 visitors: 47,418

Stamp: Yes

Rating (1-5):

About the Site

In the arid West, it's all about water -- who has it, who controls it. The area of northwest Arizona known as the Strip is particularly dry, averaging less than ten inches of rainfall a year. So, a natural spring running year-round would attract animals and humans alike. The water of Pipe Springs nourishes plants and animals and allows them to thrive in this desert area. Located north of the Grand Canyon, this steady water supply drew ancestral Puebloans (300 B.C. to 1250 A.D.) and then Paiutes to the area, and they grew crops starting at least 1,000 years ago. In 1871, Mormon pioneers built a fort over the spring and established a cattle ranch.

Although at times tensions ran high between the Mormon settlers and the Navajos, the fort was never attacked. Navajos were noted for their intelligent warfare, and perhaps they viewed the fort as too much to take on. Also, Mormon Jacob Hamblin did much to soothe tempers between the settlers and the Indians. Soon the Springs supported over 2,000 head of cattle, and every two weeks shipments of butter, cheese and cattle were taken to nearby St. George. However, the land wasn't suited for supporting so much cattle, and the ranch operations went into decline by the 1890's.

What You're Going to See

There is a visitor center here, and you may tour the "Winsor Castle" fort and grounds on your own or with a Ranger guide. There's a 0.5-mile trail to hike as well, and camping is available locally. It's a decent visitors center, with a stamp for you book and many items of both cowboy and Indian nature for sale. Touring this Monument offers a view at how people lived not too long ago, with straw beds, thick walls (for defense against attack), and rooms that were considered adequate back then for a family of 8 but are horribly cramped by today's standards.

The monument offers a tour of the 'fort', and several outbuildings still exist where ranchers stored feed, and housed the blacksmith and harness room. There is a corral made from native woods that house two Texas Longhorn, the animal of choice in the late 1800's. Check out the horns! Oh, watch for rattlesnakes in summer.

Personal Observations

When we visited in the summer of 2004, we got a demonstration of wood-stove cooking by a very nice lady. She was dressed in authentic and I imagine very hot clothing, but didn't complain as she showed us how the stove worked. She was baking bread, and we were in time to sample a piece. Delicious!

This is hot Arizona, so if you visit in the summer, come prepared. The Monument is small, really, only 40 acres in size, and the buildings occupy just a fraction of that. It's a nice place to visit, especially to get a feel for what life was like back before electricity and the internal combustion engine and air conditioning.

Getting There

From St. George, Utah, take I-15 north a few miles to exit 16. Go east on highway 9 for ten miles to Hurricane (that's "HUR-uh-cun"), then go southeast on highway 59 about 40 miles and watch for signs.

From Page, Arizona, take highway 89 west for 70 miles, to Kanab, Utah. Go south on highway 389, past Fredonia, Arizona, for about 18 miles to the Monument.

Nearby Attractions

Coral Pink Sand Dunes Utah State Park, ten miles to the north; Zion National Park, 25 miles to the northwest; the north rim of Grand Canyon National Park, about 60 miles to the south; Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, about 70 miles to the east; and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, about 30 miles to the northeast.

Visited June 2004.