Moab/Arches National Park Area Mormon History Sites

Surrounded by two of the beautiful national parks of Southern Utah -- Arches to the north and Canyonlands to the west -- Moab is one of state's most popular tourist destinations. Visitors come from all corners of the earth to mountain bike, offroad, hike, and generally enjoy this desert paradise. But it was not always so. Moab was settled early in the pioneer era as a mission focused on relations with Native Americans. It remained a quiet little town until the uranium boom in the 1950s, and pioneer artifacts still remain today, making the area a worthy destination for students of Mormon history.

Below are listed some Mormon historic sites in the Moab/Arches National Park area. This is not an exhaustive list, and visitors looking to see some of the more obscure or less popular historic sites are encouraged to research other sites of interest before visiting the area. (Note: Some information on this page is taken from William C. and Eloise Anderson's book, Guide to Mormon History Travel.)

Hole-In-The-Rock, near Escalante
The hole to which the name of this attraction refers was blasted with dynamite by settlers as part of one of the most arduous pioneer journeys ever recorded. In 1879, Mormon leaders called upon 80 families to colonize Bluff, Utah, on the San Juan River. These settlers tried a shortcut to their destination, which proved to be a serious mistake, as it led them along nearly impossible terrain. At Hole-In-The-Rock they dynamited an opening in the path barely large enough for their wagons, and once through the hole they had to lower their wagons to the bottom with a crude block and tackle due to the sharpness of the decline. The mere fact that these pioneers were able to complete their journey is astounding, and a visit to Hole-In-The-Rock is enough to remind anyone that these were not people of ordinary will and determination. Visitors should note that, although Hole-In-The-Rock can be reached by offroad-capable vehicles from Escalante, many feel that commercial boat tours from Wahweap Marina on Lake Powell present the easiest option for reaching the site.

Bluff Settlement, Bluff
Although today a tourist center, the town of Bluff still boasts some of the original pioneer homes built by those who made the difficult journey from Cedar City through Hole-In-The-Rock. Life was difficult here for the pioneers, as unfriendly Native Americans and flooding often presented significant problems.

St. George Temple

At 11,225 square feet, the Monticello Temple is the smallest in Utah.

Monticello Temple, Monticello
The Monticello Temple represents a recent innovation in Mormon temple building; it was the first of a class of smaller, fully functional structures designed to make temple construction and administration throughout the world easier. Despite its relatively small size -- and it is still as big as a very large house -- the Monticello Temple evokes the same feeling of peace and the same sense of reverence as are present at any other Mormon temple, large or small. Visitors should be aware that the Monticello Temple is not open to the general public, although all are invited to enjoy the beautifully maintained grounds surrounding the temple and the off-white marble exterior of the building.

Back to top Print this page E-mail this page