The Honeymoon Trail
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a primitive wagon road was the principle travel route between the Mormon settlements in northeastern Arizona and southern Utah. In the late 1870s, Mormon colonists had been sent by church leaders to pioneer new settlements along Arizona’s Little Colorado River. As the new settlements were remote and isolated, many goods and services could only be obtained from the established Mormon communities of southern Utah. After 1877, the Arizona Mormon settlers also traveled to St. George, Utah to conduct church business and have their marriage vows solemnized in the newly-completed St. George Temple. So many newlyweds traveled the wagon road that it came to be known as “the Honeymoon Trail”.
Couples would travel in small groups for safety and companionship to make this long-distance trek across the varied and rugged terrain of northeastern Arizona and southwestern Utah. This journey typically began in mid-November and required many weeks of hard travel to complete. The wagons jolted across deep dry washes and slick rock, bogged down in deep sandy soils, and became mired in muddy stream crossings. At Lee’s Ferry, John D. Lee and his wife Emma provided regular ferry service for travelers, at one of the few feasible crossings of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.
Their journey then took them to Kanab, Utah, south to Pipe Springs, Arizona, finally heading north into Washington County. Here, the Honeymoon Trail followed Fort Pearce Wash and headed north through the Warner Valley into St. George. The spring at the historic Fort Pearce site was a popular overnight camping spot for these travelers, some of whom inscribed their names and the dates of their visits on the rocky cliff faces at the spring.
After their marriage ceremonies, the newlyweds would often spend the winter months in St. George, enjoying the social activities of this established community and purchasing needed supplies. They began the long trip home in the early spring. The Honeymoon Trail continued in use well into the 20th century, when modern highways were finally constructed across northeastern Arizona.