Postcards from Our Travelers
Pipe Spring National Monument
Jax sends a postcard from Pipe Spring, Arizona. A national monument with decades of rich history about early settlers and the Kaibab Paiute.
Pipe Spring National Monument is situated on the Arizona strip between Zion National Park and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. This spring is the only water source for 62 miles—nourishing plant and animal life between Hurricane, Utah, and Fredonia, Arizona. This monument holds decades of rich history about early settlers and the Kaibab Paiute.
Pipe Spring first sustained the ancestral Puebloan peoples who arrived around 300 BCE, followed by Southern Paiute tribes who still reside in Pipe Spring today. The region seemed harsh and uninhabitable, but humans were drawn to this location because of the life-sustaining water pushed to the surface by geological forces.
Spanish missionaries followed suit and arrived in the 1700s, and after that, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) in the mid-1800s. Throughout the decades, there were conflicts over land and water. In the 1500s, the Kaibab population was decimated by Navajo and Ute slaving raids, alongside European diseases brought to America. By the mid-1800s, there were only about 1,200 Kaibab Indians left.
Mormons expanding into Arizona settled near water sources, but shortly after they arrived, deaths between the Mormons and Navajo ensued due to raids on livestock and other theft.
Today, the national monument is home to an orchard, corrals holding livestock and chickens, stone cabins, and a large, fortified ranch-house known as Windsor Castle, named for Anson Winsor, the first ranch manager of the Southern Utah Tithing Office (an office used for earnings collected by a church). In 1923, Pipe Spring was proclaimed a national monument, and soon after, the water disputes ended with an agreement to divide the flow evenly amongst the peoples who relied on it at the time.
Pipe Spring is now a private ranch surrounded by the Kaibab Indian Reservation and is run jointly by the Tribal and National Park Service. A visitor center and museum offer information about the history and culture of Pipe Spring as well as tours of Windsor Castle. Finally, there is a stunning one-and-a-half-mile scenic trail, which gives a dramatic view of the Arizona plains. This short hike, coupled with the sound of a trickling stream that acts as a desert oasis, is the perfect conclusion to any day trip to Pipe Spring.
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During my honeymoon in Utah, my husband and I made a point to visit Pipe Spring National Monument, as we would be driving through Arizona for a day trip. We wanted to visit as many places we could in between hiking in Zion, and we were so glad we made the trip to the tiny spring, packed with culture and history spanning all the way back to early 300 BCE!
When we arrived, we quickly headed for the main grounds to see the spring itself, the livestock kept on the ranch. and the other structures. We weren’t able to view the inside of Windsor Castle, as you can only do that through a tour, but we hiked the trail with spectacular views of the Arizona strip, and then spent over an hour in the museum learning as much as we could before we got back on the road.