Pipe Springs National Monument

Give your eyes a break from the endless array of red rock formations, deep canyons and sweeping plateaus that define this landscape and settle into a little history lesson at a lesser visited and fascinating national monument.

The area that is now known as Pipe Springs National Monument in northern Arizona was originally settled around  1150 A.D. by the Paiute Tribe, who thought it to be a sacred ground, and revered it for the perennial fresh water from the namesake spring.

In 1863, the first Mormon pioneers settled at Pipe Springs. Tensions among the settlers and Native Americans grew and after a series of bloody conflicts, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints decided to create a militia outpost at Pipe Springs in 1869. Several brick cabins were erected, and the site also became a station for the Deseret Telegraph Company. It was also used as a place for cattle rearing and grazing because of the abundant water and grasslands. The fort that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints erected, named Winsor Castle, still stands.

Indeed, Pipe Springs National Monument is steeped in history, and was proclaimed a national monument on May 31, 1923 by President Calvin Coolidge, to memorialize the exploration and settlement of the Southwest. Today, tourists come to Pipe Springs to learn about the history of this place by exploring the museum, historic fort and cabins, garden, orchard, and Ridge Trail.

When you visit Pipe Springs National Monument, your first stop will be the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians Visitor Center and Museum at the entrance, where you’ll find artifacts from early-pioneer and ancient times depicting the lives of both Native Americans and pioneers. Sit down for the 10-minute video before taking in the educational displays.

During summer months, you can witness rangers and volunteers in period costume demonstrating late-19th-century activities on the grounds. Head out with a park ranger for a free educational talk and tour, or meander about the monument as you please. There are a number of paved trails, and one short, dirt hiking trail called Ridge Trail. The paved path will take you past a blacksmith's shop, poultry and riding sheds, two ponds with resident geese, an orchard, old wagons, a corral, and riding equipment. The actual Pipe Spring itself is still covered by Winsor Castle, but it actually crosses one room in a trough before emptying into the ponds outside. The half-mile Ridge Trail has spectacular views, and a lot of history along the way.

Throughout your adventure, you’ll see artifacts and furnishings from the 1800s, and learn about the history of the fort.

During the summer (June to September) the Visitor Center and Monument Grounds are open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.; during the rest of the year, hours are from 8 a.m. to 5. p.m. Guided tours begin a half-hour after opening.

Entrance to Pipe Springs National Monument is $4 per person age 17 and older, and visitors under 16 are admitted for free.

GPS COORDINATES: 36.862030, -112.737433