A Guide to Southern Utah’s Hole-in-the-Rock Trail

In 1879, 230 settlers in southwestern Utah heeded the call from leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to pull up stakes and move to the distant San Juan country of southeastern Utah. Their year-long journey became one of the most extraordinary wagon trips ever undertaken in North America, their trail one of peril, difficulty, and spectacular vistas. Beginning in Cedar City, Utah, this trail crosses today’s Dixie National Forest, skirts Bryce Canyon National Park, bisects the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, crosses the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and comes close to Natural Bridges National Monument on its way to Bluff, Utah.

Though the trail that these devoted pioneers broke across raw frontier was used for several years afterward, no highway was built over most of the route because it was deemed too rugged for modern vehicles. In addition to the historical value of the story of these pioneers, this guide includes road logs, maps, and hiking trails along the historic trail. It also points out fascinating natural history along the way, making A Guide to Southern Utah’s Hole-in-the-Rock Trail a significant reference for a variety of readers. 

Stewart Aitchison is the author of A Traveler’s Guide to Monument Valley; Grand Canyon: Window of Time; and Red Rock Sacred Mountain: The Canyons and Peaks from Sedona to Flagstaff. He is a longtime resident and guide in the Southwest.

Table of Contents:


List of Illustrations  vi
Preface  vii
Acknowledgments  ix
Disclaimer  xi
~ Chapter 1 ~
Impossible Journey  1
~ Chapter 2 ~
The Call: December 1878 to March 1879  3
~ Chapter 3 ~
The Exploration: April 14 to Mid-September 1879  6
~ Chapter 4 ~
The Wagon Train Begins: Mid-October to November 1879  18
~ Chapter 5 ~
To the Brink: November 1879 to January 25, 1880  31
~ Chapter 6 ~
Down the Hole and Beyond: January 26 to April 1880  48
~ Chapter 7 ~
“We Thank Thee”: March 28 to April 6, 1880  65
~ Chapter 8 ~
Bluff City: Since April 6, 1880, in Brief  72
Appendixes  75
Bibliography  84

Praise and Reviews:

"[This book] serves as a useful guide to the American West’s most arduous emigrant road carved through a strikingly scenic, convoluted landscape. It also serves as a handy reference for anyone wishing to know the story of the trail."—Steven K. Madsen, coauthor of In Search of the Spanish Trail: Santa Fe to Los Angeles, 1829-1848