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Pipe Spring National Monument

Photo by: Ken Lund

Pipe Spring National Monument documents a storied human history of the Arizona Strip, including conflicts between the Kaibab Paiutes, Mormon settlers, and the U.S. government.

The 40-acre national monument on the Arizona/Utah border revolves around Pipe Spring, an invaluable perennial water source in the arid Arizona Strip. Kaibab Paiutes lived in the area and used the water until Mormon pioneers displaced them. The Mormons built a rock fort called Winsor Castle and two cabins, and had a ranching operation in the mid 1800s. Visitors can tour the fort and surrounding orchards, corral, and spring, and visit the Pipe Spring National Monument-Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians Visitor Center and Museum with historical and cultural exhibits.

Getting there

From Fredonia, Arizona, turn west onto AZ 389 and continue for 14 miles. The monument is on your right. From the junction of UT 9 and UT 59 in Hurricane, UT, drive south on UT 59 for 22 miles. Continue onto AZ 389 as you cross into Arizona; Pipe Spring National Monument is on your left in another 20 miles.

Visiting the monument

The Arizona Strip, isolated from the rest of the state by the geologic barrier of the Grand Canyon, has come to represent the Wild West with its dry, rugged lands. Pipe Spring National Monument sits amid this big empty country as a commemoration of the people who lived there and an embodiment of the American Frontier. Today, stories of conflict lie in the sagebrush badlands, open range, and precious springs. This little-visited monument tells a complex history of cultural, political, and religious tensions over the past few centuries.

Long before Anglos came to the Arizona Strip, Ancestral Puebloans, followed by the Kaibab Paiutes, settled here around one of the few perennial water sources in the area (Matungwa’vu to the Kaibab Paiute, now called Pipe Spring). The Kaibab Band of Paiutes, whose reservation now surrounds the monument, have partnered with the National Park Service to create a visitor center and museum with interpretive exhibits detailing their traditions and ways of life.

In the mid 1800s, Mormon explorers pushed down through southern Utah across the state border to escape escalating hostility by the U.S. government towards their polygamist practices. The Church built a settlement and cattle ranch around Pipe Spring, which marginalized the Kaibab Paiutes by cutting off their water use. Overgrazing, along with increased drought, destroyed the grasslands. Now, sagebrush grows in its place creating a landscape of sandy badlands.

At the monument, you can explore remnants of the late 19th century fortified Mormon ranch. The park service offers guided tours of Winsor Castle (the Fort), and a short trail goes to the West and East Cabins which house cowboy displays. Other trails highlight the enclosed spring, historic orchards, and corrals.

When the park service acquired Pipe Spring in 1923, they granted the Kaibab Paiute water rights. Today, the tribe shares their culture with tourists through tours, hikes, and cultural events. They also operate a campground a ¼ mile from the monument. If you’re roadtripping to nearby national parks like Zion, Bryce Canyon, or the Grand Canyon, be sure to leave time in your itinerary to stop at Pipe Spring National Monument—a small place rich in history.

Pipe Spring National Monument, on the Arizona Strip, documents conflicts between the Kaibab Paiutes, Mormon settlers, and the U.S. government. ]]>